Portland Roasting Coffee is Dead

Long Live Caffe Umbria

Commons has recently replaced Portland Roasting Coffee with the Caffe Umbria, introducing a new brand of coffee into our board point-dependent lives. This change came rapidly after Commons previously switched to Portland Roasting Coffee at the beginning of this semester.

The locally produced Portland Roasting Coffee brand itself replaced Goose Hollow, a move over which no great love was lost. Anything was an improvement over the acrid and acidic flavor of Goose Hollow, and the Steel blend from Portland Roasting Coffee was my go-to for a while. However, the line of caffeinated succession keeps improving, and the new change — replacing Portland Roasting Coffee with the smoother and richer Caffe Umbria — is fully welcomed. After tasting all three of the roaster’s caffeinated options available at Commons, I have ranked them according to my completely subjective, but also completely accurate, preferences.

Decaf hasn’t been included, because there’s only one option, Mezzanote, and if you want decaf for whatever reason, it’s what you’re getting. So without further delay, here is the final ranking of the caffeinated options:

Bizzari Medium Dark Roast

This is the fullest-bodied roast, with a richer nuttiness to it than either Grifo or Gusto Crema. Bizzari seems to have slightly more acidity than the other options, and a medium level of sweetness which leaves it more rounded and better for drinking standalone. Bizzari is Caffe Umbria’s signature blend, named after the founder and head roaster Emanuelle Bizzari according to their website, and is overall a solidly satisfying cup. For someone who tries to save money (or board points) by making coffee in my dorm, I actually find myself preferring this blend to my usual morning cup.

Grifo Medium Dark Roast

As mentioned above, all of the Caffe Umbria selection is much smoother than any of the Goose Hollow options. However, Grifo seems to lack the fuller flavor and some of the sweetness of the Bizzari blend. If you prefer your coffee black and potent the Grifo, reminiscent of a French Roast, will be your best bet. There is something mildly fruity about it. When cross-referenced with the descriptions listed on Caffe Umbria’s website, there are supposedly “hints of dried mango, currant, lychee, tea rose, and anise” – which is pushing it in all fairness. But non-descript fruit flavor, sure.

Gusto Crema Light Medium Roast

I am pretty impartial to light roasts, and this was very light. I mean “crema” is correct; if you add cream to this it might actually overpower the coffee. If you’re the kind of person who likes your coffee to taste as little of coffee as possible, this roast will suit you just fine.

It goes without saying that large batches of coffee from coffee urns rarely taste fresh, despite supposedly being sheltered from the staling oxidation process. If you want an optimal cup of fresh brewed coffee from Commons, I’ve had luck in the early morning prior to the breakfast rush, or mid-dinner. As a disclaimer, these roasts were all tried at different times of day, and may have slightly affected the overall flavor, but the ranking stands.

Portland coffee is notoriously bitter in roast. But Caffe Umbria is definitely not, which is the best direction we could have gone in my opinion. All in all, thank you to the powers that be – a.k.a. the Bon Appetit team – for finding a coffee better suited to large brew batches and potentially long periods of time between brewing and consumption. When poured fresh, this coffee is a pretty good cup. Keep the Bizzari coming.

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