Tasting: 3 Easy Pour-Over Coffee Pouches from Malu Coffee

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Tasting: 3 Easy Pour-Over Coffee Pouches from Malu Coffee

I’ve often observed that coffee is what I consider a “sanctuary” beverage for myself–it’s something safe, and something I don’t want to become particularly complicated. As a beer and spirits writer, I have a tendency to dive into subjects and absorb every possible piece of information in a quest to know and understand everything, becoming an unbearably knowledgeable and enthusiastic geek in the process. Recognizing this about myself, I’ve gone out of my way over the years to not become TOO geeky about coffee, for the simple fact that I want to continue being able to appreciate “normal” coffee on an average morning, rather than being that guy who is only satisfied by an $8 pour-over at the local coffee shop. This preference for simplicity in coffee is why I conducted a big blind-tasting of 40 K-cup coffee brands earlier this year, and it’s why I wasn’t initially certain that Malu Coffee’s coffee pouch format would be for me.

I’ll admit it, though: Like pretty much any aesthete or person who loves food and drink, I do appreciate the complexity of a delicious pour-over now and then. Despite my desire to keep coffee accessible for myself, I was really curious about the concept Malu Coffee has pioneered here, which takes the pour-over method and seeks to simplify it as much as it possibly can. They’ve effectively created a line of individual pour-over pouches, each of which can simply balance on your favorite mug as you brew your cup right then and there. It’s hard to see how it could be much simpler.

Currently, Malu Coffee–a collaboration with NuZee Coffee–is offering three distinct brands of coffee pouch, one a house blend and two others that are regional expressions. I was curious what kind of results this method would yield–particularly if they would be better than some of the uninspiring “tea bag”-style coffees I’ve sampled–so I decided to give it a try.

Note: The brewing method here is simple. The pouch has two paper wings that let it rest above your coffee mug. The top of the pouch is opened, and hot water is then poured into the bag, a process that is easier with some kind of spout. It’s pretty intuitive, though I am embarrassed to admit it’s still possible to screw it up–the first time I made a pouch, I didn’t actually realize the top of the bag was supposed to open, and instead attempted to pour the water through the mesh on top, which made something of a mess. Suffice to say, I eventually realized what I was doing wrong. So with that said, let’s get to tasting.

Malu Coffee The Classic – House Blend Coffee

This offering is Malu’s flagship, featuring coffees from Guatemala & Ethiopia, functionally meant to serve as the company’s everyday, gateway dark roast blend. I would presume it’s probably meant to read as the most comfortably familiar to the average grocery store bag/drip coffee consumer.

On the nose, this one demonstrates pleasant notes of apple flesh and toasty graham cracker, along with a slightly vinous, dark roastiness. On the palate, I’m getting honey graham crackers and faint apple, along with something sweeter evoking hazelnut streusel. Traces of milk chocolate mingle with that streusel, with the roastiness turning slightly vinous and syrupy as it cools. There’s very little astringency or bitterness, which would likely make this a crowd pleaser. All in all, easy to make and easy to enjoy–and certainly better than any of the steeped, tea bag-style coffees I’ve tried in the past, which is nice to see.

Malu Coffee The Playful – Single Origin Colombia Las Nubes

The other two Malu offerings are single origin coffees that I presume are meant to demonstrate more unique varietal character, starting with this pink bourbon varietal coffee from Colombia, which Malu describes as “The Playful.”

On the nose, this one gives me nuts and milk chocolate, with perhaps a bit of vanilla, along with a building red fruitiness. On the palate, my eyes widened a bit at a very distinct strawberry note that I found quite engaging, along with brown sugar biscuit and some orange citrus, joined by mild nuttiness evocative of caco nibs. All in all, I’m almost reminded of a fruited black tea, but the overall profile grabs my imagination in a fun way. Again there’s basically no bitterness or astringency to be found, rendering the entire approach very gentle. I find myself wondering if I’m getting every bit of full extraction from the coffee that Malu intends, but the varietal character that is coming through is at least engaging. Ultimately, of these three I think it was The Playful that I found most interesting.

Malu Coffee The Elegant – Single Origin Ethiopia Degefa

The third Malu offering is The Elegant, a single origin Ethiopian coffee described by the company as bright and fruity. Ethiopian coffee is often a favorite for me, so I was particularly interested in tasting this one.

On the nose, The Elegant presents with crisp roast, floral tones and a slightly perfumey impression. I’m not exactly getting the fruit that is described, other than perhaps a faint red berry. On the palate, this is interesting–slightly piney and woodsy, and notably drier than the other two coffees. The floral notes are still there, and it’s a little bit resinous, but all in all it doesn’t strike me as being as memorable as the other two pouches. Of the three brands here, this is the only one that to me feels like the profile could be notably bolder. Or it’s possible that I’m again just not getting the kind of extraction the brand intends, or perhaps I should give it extra steeping time.

Regardless, Malu Coffee’s pouches are an impressive step above some other, similar techniques I’ve come across, particularly the tea-bag style coffees that have never yielded good results for me. I certainly can’t fault the ease of use, here–it truly streamlines the pour-over technique, even if it perhaps doesn’t yield quite as bold a brew.

Jim Vorel is a Paste staff writer and resident beer and liquor geek. You can follow him on Twitter for more drink writing.

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