It takes a lot of courage to follow ones passion, start a business, and work double jobs to make ends meet. The people from Hands-On are like that. Roastmaster Paul Travis and his wife Eloise started Hand-on Coffee Roasters, slowly building a circle of loyal customers.
There is no marketing department at Hands-On. For the most part, they’re relying on word of mouth advertising, hoping their coffee will speak for itself. We are happy to report that it most certainly does.
The Cornwall-based startup micro-roaster sent us a sample of their espresso blend “Lusty Glaze”. The name comes from a small, picturesque beach on Cornwall’s west coast, not from an oily dark roast.
The coffee from Hands-On Coffee Roasters comes in a plain paper bag with a roast date stamped on the back, so if you buy the coffee you will know how fresh it is. Few roasters bother to do this, so we are impressed on this point.
As said, Lusty Glaze is not a dark roasted blend with beans covered in a layer of oil. Hands-On roastmaster Paul Travis kept a finger on the pulse, and rightly stopped the roast in time. The coffee is roasted a few notches into second crack, but far from overroasted.
The cup opens with a distinct aroma of dark caramel, toasty notes, vanilla, and one of us noted a hint of lemon zest. In the cup there are flavours of toasted bread, wood, malty notes, black tea, and dark bakers chocolate. The mouthfeel is very heavy, and creamy. As in most dark roasts, this blend is limited in acidity. We only noted a slight puckering on the tip of the tongue, not unlike a strong black tea. The blend has a long aftertaste, with recurring notes of wood, bakers chocolate, and a hint of hazelnut.
In all, we find Hands-On’s Lusty Glaze a very well-balanced blend.
It seems to us that roastmaster Paul Travis has put an Indonesian coffee in the limelight here. It is a less obvious choice, but as it turns out an excellent one. Although perhaps a slightly unusual blend, it is both easy to drink and thoroughly satisfying. The restrained roast, and excellent choice of coffees make this a great blend that pours an espresso with a thick, persistent layer of crema. It’s heavy, balanced, and interesting.
On our espresso machine, we feel the blend tastes best at ca. 94°C where we find the most sweetness and depth. A few drops of hot water may make this heavy blend easier to appreciate. For espresso based drinks, Lusty Glaze will not disappear in larger amounts of milk. It is great as a straight espresso, but also makes a very enjoyable cappuccino, or even a tall latte.
Although the Lusty Glaze blend was designed for espresso, the blend also does fairly well as brewed coffee, for a Cona, a press pot or as filter drip.
The only problem with such a blend is that it may be difficult to recreate with new ingredients, new batches of coffee. We hope Hands-On Coffee Roasters, with their proven skills in sourcing, blending, and roasting good coffee, will be able to solve that problem.
For now, we are happy to recommend Hands-On Lusty Glaze blend.
Aroma: dark caramel, toasty notes, vanilla, and lemon zest
Flavour: toasted bread, malty notes, wood, black tea, dark bakers chocolate, balanced
Body: very heavy, creamy
Acidity: low, slightly puckering (like strong black tea)
Aftertaste: long, with recurring wood, bakers chocolate, hint of hazelnut