Coffee Review: Grumpy Mule India Araku Valley

I have only tried two Grumpy Mule coffees before now. I reviewed the Peru Femenino last year and their organic decaff just recently. So far, I like their coffees and decided to put in an order for a batch of several different types. This is the first of my current Grumpy Mule coffee experiment.

Profile: The label promises caramel, brown sugar and a balanced acidity with a roast rating flavour of 3.5 – suitable then, for most palates and tastes. I must admit, I’ve not tasted much coffee produced in India. Much of my new coffee experience tends to come from Africa or South America. Each of these regions have different profiles. I was certainly tempted by the promise of sweet but full-bodied flavours.

Scent: The raw bagged product has an interesting aroma. Coffee, well yes – that is certainly there, but there are interesting undernotes. A delicate hint of sweetness that is kind of reminiscent of caramel. But the scent of the raw product matters far less than how it smells during the brewing process. That caramel is still there when processed with perhaps a slight (and surprising) floral undernote. It’s pleasant and medium in tone with enough coffee smell and undernote to satisfy most.

Colour: The grains are a dusty medium brown, not red or a hint of musky orange that some have. This is in line with its medium roast but darker than other mediums. This colour note is reflected in the brewed product. It doesn’t really stand out but it does suggest a good medium roast – closer to brown than black.

Flavour: When it really comes down to it, what signifies a good and satisfying coffee is its flavour. The first tentative sip of the coffee (black espresso) reveals a quite pleasant bitter-sweetness. I can’t quite put my finger on it but I understand why they’ve gone for the brown sugar label. Add hot water to make it an Americano and that bittersweetness is still there, it’s just slightly less pronounced. I still prefer my coffee with milk though. In this case, milk brings out the full range of flavour, balancing the acidity nicely against the sharp bittersweet contrast.

Verdict: It’s pleasant, easy on the palate and a great all-round coffee. I tend to think of most coffees as being for a certain time of day or season (Sunday afternoon indulgence, Monday morning slap in the face, autumn warmth, refreshing summer) but this is a great all-rounder. It strikes a great balance that most people should like.

Marks out of ten (drum roll): This is a real mix of flavours. It’s unlikely to excite most people but unlikely to offend anybody either. It attempts to tick all of the boxes and that, for me, is why I don’t adore this coffee. I didn’t get the “ooh” feeling of the first sip that I did with Peru Femenino. I’d drink it again though. It’s nice, just not fantastic. 7/10.

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