Professional coffee reviewer, I am not… but anyone who knows me knows that I do like me a good cuppa. So, when I was offered tasting samples of some new artisanal blends of coffee to try from Central Perk, could I BE more interested? I think not!
“Central Perk?” you say, wondering why that sounds familiar. Yes, it is true—this is a bonafide coffee company with a familiar name that sounds like an old friend. Indeed, this FRIENDS™-themed coffee company blends pop culture with premium arabica coffee roasts, under the guidance of New York-based chef Tom Colicchio. This summer, the brand even has a physical coffeehouse opening in Boston, a “modern take on the classic Central Perk from FRIENDS™.”
But we’re here to try some coffee!
I was given samples of three of Central Perk‘s latest blends. If you know a FRIENDS™ fanatic, or are one yourself, you’ll appreciate the thoughtful packaging and even the slogan (“Enjoyed Best With Friends”… d’awwww). After my furry assistant Dolly (pictured above) helped open the box in order to sit in it, I got to brewing:
Gunther! Espresso Blend – Dark roast coffee is my default at home, so I tried this one first, brewing up a pot in my Mr. Coffee. Described as having “bold acidity with a smoky, caramel taste,” I will have to agree on the smoky part. This one puts the “roast” in dark roast. If you love the default taste of Starbucks (which, let’s just say, is often described as a “burnt” flavor), this one will be right up your alley. My partner said with a shrug, “It’s fine.”
Moo Point Decaf – Central Perk’s first decaf blend (99.7% caffeine free) is a medium roast is described as having “hints of cocoa and subtle honey.” My first thought was that it tasted kind of nutty, which was not a bad thing. I brewed it dark in my AeroPress (sort of a camping version of a French press), and I have to say it was surprisingly good! Decaf, in my opinion, is a tough call. Often, it just tastes like what it is: a poseur cup of coffee (I know, I know). But this one could pass as the real thing. This blend is certainly worth keeping on hand for when your pals come over for a late-night slab of pie.
Oh. My. GAWD! Cold Brew Blend – I don’t think I’ve ever tried coffee that was specifically roasted for cold brew (when I make it, I just use regular coffee with a coarse grind), so I was curious if this pre-ground blend would be any different. I brewed this my usual way (1 cup of ground coffee plus 4 cups of cold water, steeping overnight in the fridge for 12 hours, then filtered the next day). If you’ve tried different cold brews from your local coffee hut or pre-bottled from the store, you know the taste can range from good (smooth with no bitterness) to not-so-good (sour!). Oh. My. GAWD! is a medium roast described as having “notes of chocolate, butterscotch, citrus, and molasses.” Let’s just say, my first thought was, WOW, they got this blend absolutely right! It’s smooth and chocolately, with no aftertaste. This one is a winner, and I can’t wait to brew up the rest now that summer is here!
For a product based on a fictional yet beloved coffeehouse, Central Perk was smart to actually create some coffeehouse-quality roasts. You know that your FRIENDS™ friends will love any FRIENDS™-themed gifts, but you can have the piece of mind that a gift from Central Perk is not just a mere branding gimmick, but it’s actually good coffee.