A Review of Black & White Coffee’s Happy Birthday Blend

Written by:
Tyler Laporte
Lead Image:
Tyler Laporte

Usually, when I buy a bag of coffee beans, I tear into it even before I get back to the car. Hell, I’m even scanning the area to see if anyone will catch me. It’s all pretty hilarious and reminiscent of what it was like going to see the “guy” back in college. Just a different buzz, you know? But Black & White Coffee Roasters near Wake Forest, North Carolina, has changed the bean-buying experience for me entirely. I don’t just want to smell these little guys. I want to do a full-on gainer belly flop into the bag and perhaps move in for good.

Black & White was founded three years ago by Counter Culture alums and US Barista Champions Lem Butler (2016) and Kyle Ramage (2017). To get an idea how much these guys care about their beans, check out Lem’s demonstration at the 2016 World Barista Championship. Or, try one of their Anaerobically processed coffees. You’ll see exactly why I’m so passionate.

The Details: Black and White’s Happy Birthday Blend

Black and White Coffee Roasters Happy Birthday Blend Coffee Beans

Name: Happy Birthday – 2020
Roaster: Black & White Coffee Roasters
Roast: Light
Region: Gesha – Tolima, Colombia // Yurko – Agaro, Ethiopia
Process: Anaerobic Natural and Washed
Elevation: 1450-2100
Roasting Date: 09/10/2020
Consumption Date: 09/14/2020
Utilized Preparation Method: V60

What Is Black And White’s Happy Birthday Blend?

Black and White Coffee Roasters Happy Birthday Blend Coffee Beans

To celebrate their third birthday, Black & White released a “Happy Birthday – 2020” blend. The blend marries two of the greatest coffee producing countries: Colombia and Ethiopia. Usually, I try for a bag of single origin beans but this party seemed too good to pass up. Especially since this blend contained an anaerobic processed Gesha.

Uh, what’s anaerobic processed Gesha?

Black and White Coffee Roasters Happy Birthday Blend Coffee Beans

All coffee is fermented anywhere from twelve to twenty-four hours. That, combined with the finesse of your roaster, is where those peach, berry, or chocolate flavors are developed. The anaerobic process allows coffee producers to adjust the fermentation time to ninety hours or more, giving them more control over flavor notes.

Now, anaerobic coffee fermentation gets into the weeds. But for now, just know that both Lem and Kyle used anaerobic processed Gesha in their championship barista competitions. In the Birthday Blend, the Colombian anaerobic processed Gesha beans get rounded out by a washed Yurko from Agaro, Ethiopia, which isn’t far from the birthplace of Gesha.

How To Prepare Black And White’s Happy Birthday Blend

Black and White Coffee Roasters Happy Birthday Blend Coffee Beans

When it comes to brewing for consistency, I’m a simple man. I keep my bean to water ratio at 1:16. In this case, that meant 45 grams coffee to 720 grams of water. I have a stovetop gooseneck kettle that keeps my water temperature between 200 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit.

Because these beans were fairly acidic, I pushed the grind as finely as I could. In this case, a “ten” on my Baratza Encore was the sweet spot. I popped the grounds into my V60 after properly soaking the filter, bloomed with 90 grams of water, swirled, and waited 45 seconds. After the bloom, I kept a constant, circuitous pour until the scale hit 720. Due to a pretty tight grind, this brew clocked in around four minutes.

What Does Black And White’s Happy Birthday Blend Taste Like?

Black and White Coffee Roasters Happy Birthday Blend Coffee Beans

Open the damn bag already!

Pop this jawn and you’re almost immediately overwhelmed by a deep, almost musty funk. You know, that familiar funk found when sipping a Fou’ Foune or a glass of that glou glou with the hand drawn label? Beer nerds will know what I’m talking about.

And just like those other fermented delights, the funky, leathery, pipe tobacco notes of the Birthday Blend start to take over the olfactory system. It’s absolutely intoxicating and completely unique from any coffee you’ve ever smelled. I mean it.

Black and White Coffee Roasters Happy Birthday Blend Coffee Beans

Brewed and sipped at the right temp, the dominant tasting note is the unmistakable soft centered strawberry hard candy from your childhood. Yeah, that one. Then comes the chorus. There’s nothing subtle about the huge berry notes coming from the Yurko, or the tropical, almost pineapple-ly acidic notes from the natural Gesha.

As you finish your sip, you may think you’ve been magically whisked away to happy hour with a boozy glass of Sangria in hand. You get dry red wine but still a touch of sweetness from the acidic orange flavors. Then there’s those strawberries again. Now, you sit looking sadly into your empty cup with a meaty combo of chocolate and tobacco lingering at the back of your tongue.

The Bottom Line On Black and White’s Birthday Blend

This is some weird, wild stuff and Black & White has a number of anaerobically processed varieties, all of which I plan to diligently enjoy.

I’m almost at the bottom of this bag already!

Liked this article? Sign up for our newsletter to get the best coffee writing, news, and discounts delivered straight to your inbox.