If you’ve been around quality coffee (and teas) for a bit, you’ll have likely heard of Atlas Coffee Club. I first encountered Atlas Coffee about five years ago. Since then, I’ve had the opportunity as a regular reviewer here at Best Quality Coffee to sample countless world-class coffees from some of the best producers. My experiences with Atlas Coffee, whether it be their “anything but standard” whole bean varieties, specialty cold brew roasts, or exotic decaf offerings, continually supports my opinion that Atlas is head and shoulders above most coffee producers.
In terms of freshness, roasting precision, and flavor, Atlas Coffee has always impressed me. More recently, the company started offering their Atlas Coffee espresso subscription for those who love the deep rich flavor of a strong espresso. In this article, I take a closer look at the Atlas Coffee Espresso Subscription to help you decide if it’s worth your hard-earned coffee bucks.
Disclaimer: Atlas Coffee sent me a selection of their finest espresso roasted beans in exchange for an honest review.
As with all of my reviews, I like to add a little context since everyone’s palate is different. Hopefully, it’ll help give the reader a better idea of whether these brews are a good fit for them.
During the past year or so I’ve gravitated away from darker roasts. The reason for this is because I often find the beans to be oily and resulting flavors to be rather narrow in profile. So, when I’m in the mood for a stronger cup of coffee, I tend to adjust my brewing techniques rather than procure a darker roasted bean. Medium and light roasts have a greater range of flavor and allow more of a bean’s natural flavor to express itself. The extended roasting period of a dark roast typically infuses the bean with a smoky flavor (which isn’t a bad thing). I just enjoy discerning the subtle notes and flavors that are often characteristics of non-dark roasts.
Having said this, the latest Atlas Espresso and Dark Roasts have opened my eyes and taste buds to a whole different paradigm. They’ve produced a dark roast that amazingly still retains these subtle complexities and subtleties in flavor that I so cherish.
Atlas Coffee Espresso Review
So without further ado, let’s dive right into this Atlas Coffee espresso review. Below are some of the key highlights of Atlas Coffee’s espresso subscription.
- The Variety – Espresso drinkers can now explore options from new countries each month like Papua New Guinea, Zambia, India, and more
- The Quality – Source the top 1% of the world’s best espresso
- Roasted to Order – Each batch is roasted fresh for optimal extraction
Related Article: Difference Between Coffee Roasts
First off, take a look at these two examples of Atlas’ Nicaragua Nueva Segovia Espresso Roast compared to an organic “name-brand” dark roast I picked up locally. Some might assume the drastic difference in oiliness has to do with freshness.
I would respond that the oily, wet bean was roasted more recently than the Atlas bean and the name-brand package was opened moments before the photograph was taken. It’s clear by the differences here that the art of dark roasting is an especially fine art, one that Atlas has mastered.
I purposely demonstrated the difference in oiliness between Atlas beans and others. Something you should watch for and compare as well.
For the record, oily beans aren’t necessarily a bad thing. In some cases they can be an indication that the coffee bean has gone stale. In others, it can be the simple of result of a coffee bean being roasted to a dark level. In either case, I prefer my beans not to be oily.
Bonus Tip: When brewing espresso in an espresso machine, you should avoid using oily beans. The build up of excessive oils can clog up your machine.
When exploring a new coffee, I like to taste a raw bean. You tend to get a preview of the flavors to come later in brewing. As suspected, the Atlas Nicaragua Espresso Roasted raw bean cues a wide flavor profile while the unnamed bean suggests a single flavor best described with the generic catch-all adjective, “robust“.
On to brewing and sipping. Small disclaimer first. I’ve been accused of being a coffee snob more than once in my life. I’ve never denied it. However, in my opinion, I remain rather unsophisticated in my love for coffee. I rotate between classic drip, French press, a bit of pour-over, and my Moka pots. I rarely weigh my beans and rely on instinct for ratios while making drastic adjustments from fine to course grind depending on the brewing apparatus to be used. I do not own an espresso machine and these very fine Atlas Espresso Roasts were brewed in a French press and Moka pot. So in more ways than one, I’m just an average coffee lover who has had the privilege of reviewing exceptional coffees.
I could discuss other traits of these coffee beans such as regional growing characteristics and related processing methods that definitely contribute to the fine brew that I’ve enjoyed. However, I’ve chosen to focus on the roasting. This is partly because I’m so shocked by the intricately balanced and complex flavor profile Atlas was able to produce in a dark roast. These flavors are very distinct yet play off of each other between the inhale sip and the smooth finish. So keep in mind, the expert hand of a roaster often makes the difference between a harmonious bouquet of refined flavors and the strong, bitter, and ordinary flavors so common in dark roasts of today.
The Blind Taste Test
Upon receiving this batch of Atlas coffee, I spent a few days with friends part way up Thunderbolt Mountain located in Big Sky Country. I made sure to get up each morning before anyone else so I could make the coffee. This was all part of my plan to test Atlas on my unsuspecting friends who are definitely not coffee snobs…yet. This first morning, pouring coffee from my French press, I heard a few comments about how the coffee was “different.”
Now mind you this is Espresso Roast from Nicaragua. From my own sipping, I was reveling in bits of red wine finished with cocoa and ginger snap. While the coffee conversation was developing, I slipped away and made another pot of Guatemalan Dark Roast for comparison. I made some slight eye-ball adjustment to grind and ratio and kept serving until someone finally asked “Pedro, what is this coffee?” I played dumb and asked what they thought the flavor was, hoping not to hear the word “robust“. The response was “well, I smell fresh cut wood but taste honey.”
The next two mornings my friends asked me to make coffee again. So I brought out the Moka pot, adjusted the grind some more and went to work. This time, Guatemalan Espresso Roast in over-sized shot glasses was the game, and boy did I win with Atlas. My “simpleton” coffee friends were talking and I was hearing texture talk like “creamy” and “smooth,” followed by “a hint of molasses” or “chocolate and citrus.” It seemed as if these friends were experiencing real coffee for the first time and let it be noted, no one mentioned the word robust. I was thankful for that.
I want readers to know how good Atlas Coffee is and I thought this informal taste test with friends provided a good example of Atlas’ expertise. From my perspective, I see the quality of Atlas Coffee in the packaging, the notecards describing coffee growing conditions, the petite, dry beans. All this before the brew and taste. Flavors full of range, complexity, and distinction. These are the reasons why I think Atlas Coffee is regarded as one of the best coffee subscriptions in this fiercely competitive industry.
Atlas Coffee Espresso Subscription: Final Thoughts
I try to try new coffees all the time. Seemingly searching for something I already know exists with Atlas Coffee. Along that path, I must have developed a dislike for espresso and dark roasts when compared to the lighter roasts. I now know I have been missing out on a heavenly world of dark roasted goodness. And I credit Atlas with that realization. Honestly, the flavors I experienced with Atlas Espresso and Dark roasts were a complete surprise.
Something I have always appreciated about espresso is its enhanced texture because it adds another element to the coffee experience. With Atlas Espresso roasts I seem to have found the best of both worlds. A creamy cup that compliments a radius of flavors alerting the senses to something complex and very fine. If I haven’t convinced you yet, please get yourself some Atlas coffee. I suggest starting at the top with their new Espresso Roasts.
Related Article: Best Coffee Beans for Brewing Espresso