I’ve reached the life stage in which gifts I receive for birthdays and Christmas tend toward power tools, grill equipment, and leather goods. The last few years’ gifts, however, have been predominantly coffee-related. That in and of itself is funny, since I don’t consider myself a coffee connoisseur. I like my 12-cup Mr. Coffee and will occassionally enjoy a French press. (My wife has now converted to Chemex pour-overs and swears she’ll never go back.)
I’ve gotten to try a few different brands of small-batch and specialty coffee, but the company that I come back to over and over is Bones Coffee. They have a nice variety of both flavored and unflavored coffee, with lots of neat seasonal and specialty flavors throughout the year.
Note: This is not a sponsored/affiliate post–BUT if the fine folks at Bones want to toss me an affiliate link or discount code to share with you, I’ll be more than delighted to do so.
Here are some quick capsule reviews of flavors I’ve tried so far, in case you want to check out Bones Coffee for yourself:
Mint Invaders from Chocolate Space — Chocolate and mint is my go-to sweet combination. Every year, I hit up Starbucks on or around November 1st for the official start of “Peppermint Mocha” season (and don’t talk to me about how it’s available at other times in the year, because I don’t acknowledge that). I dig “peppermint bark” flavored coffee creamer and mint chocolate chip ice cream–mint and chocolate are totally my jam. I had high expectations from “Mint Invaders…” when I first tried it and was extremely pleased. While the flavor isn’t as overpowering as if you were adding a heavy creamer or syrup to your coffee, the flavor and aroma are definitely there. I’ve gotten multiple bags of this flavor and it’s become one of my regular Bones selections as a result. Definite recommend.
Holy Cannoli — I don’t know what kind of eldritch flavor alchemy the Bones folks are using, but I’m stunned and delighted to find that this coffee actually reminds me of the flavors of a good cannoli–the subtle sweetness of the filling, the nuttiness of the wafer, and just a touch of chocolate. The reason this flavor works so well is that it doesn’t hit you over the head with the combination. Some flavored coffees so overwhelm you that the taste becomes cloying. “Holy Cannoli” hits that right level of subtlety so that you don’t forget you’re drinking coffee, but you’ve got a nice sensory boost from the other flavors. Plus, and I think this is really a key factor, it helps when the added flavor actually complements the flavor of coffee itself. Having a cannoli with a cup of coffee makes sense as a flavor combination. Other flavors, not so much, as in the case of…
Electric Unicorn — This is billed as a “fruity cereal” flavor–think “bowl of Fruity Pebbles.” I won a sample of this flavor in a Bones giveaway and was curious to try it out. Turns out, this one was a big miss for me personally. During my first two sips, I was intrigued, if a bit confused. However, around Sip #3, I actually started feeling a bit nauseated. It’s not even that it was too sweet (obviously, since I controlled the level of added sugar in my cup); it’s that the flavoring was just so strong, and it seemed to clash with the natural flavor of the coffee so much, that the whole thing just wasn’t appealing after just a few swigs. I’m willing to give unusual flavors a try, but if I have no desire to finish the mug, that’s a really bad sign. I’d say pass on this one, unless you’re REALLY intrigued by the flavor concept, in which case I’d recommend maybe starting with a sample pack first.
Sinn-o-Bunn — Again, here we have a flavor where they nail the concept in a way that almost defies logic. In fact, for this cinnamon-roll-flavored blend, the magic works a little *too* well. I wanted to get a good sense of this one, so I brewed a pot with a ratio of 3:1 Bones to plain decaf, and after the first mug, I could almost go back and cut it a little more. The flavor of not just cinnamon but honest-to-goodness “cinnamon roll with cream cheese icing” is *so* strong that dialing it down by mixing it with some non-flavored coffee may just be the way to go for me. Truth be told, that’s not necessarily a bad thing if you want to see your coffee dollars stretch a bit. You could find a good quality non-flavored roast (perhaps some of Bones’ single-origin coffee) to throw in the mix so that it dials the flavor strength down a bit and extends the enjoyment of the flavored beans to additional brews. Either way, this flavor is a qualified win for me.
[Fall Seasonal Flavor] Frankenbones – One of the cool things about buying coffee from a small-batch roaster like Bones is that there are seasonal flavors that come around periodically. While these flavors aren’t available right now, they will be later in the year, so I wanted to put them on your radar now. Frankenbones is one that I’m going to give another shot. The flavor of this autumn seasonal offering is listed as “chocolate hazelnut” but when I had it, the chocolate came through much more clearly than the hazelnut did. It was still good, but I just didn’t get as much of the distinction there. That said, I’m a mocha fiend, so chocolate coffee ANYTHING is a winner for me. I happened to receive a bag of it over Christmas and will be enjoying it soon, so I’ll pop back in the comments and let you know if it won me over even more!
[Winter Seasonal Flavors] The Winter Holiday Exclusive Flavors: White Chocolate Peppermint Bark, Gingerbread, Egg Nog, Jingle Bones, Oh Fuuudge! — Two years ago, we ordered the sample pack of the “holiday” flavors, along with a few extra full bags of Oh Fuuudge! and Peppermint Bark (see above, re: my love for both chocolate and mint). Those two are obviosuly my favorites of the bunch. Jingle Bones is a nice mix of coconut, vanilla, and caramel, and I liked that quite a bit; it reminded me one of my favorite local coffee brands that mixes coconut flakes in the whole-bean bags. Not all of the flavors worked for me—I didn’t love the gingerbread and eggnog samples. Don’t get me wrong; they get the flavors right and they’re not that bad (sorry, Electric Unicorn). They’re just not what I prefer. All in all, it’s a great selection, and if you’re a fan of any of the “holiday flavors” from Starbucks, you should check out Bones’ offerings when they become available in the late fall.
If you’re a fan of flavored coffee, I think you should give Bones a try. Like I said at the top, this isn’t a sponsored post. I legitimately like Bones Coffee and drink it often (I’m sipping on some Sinn-a-bun while I’m typing this, as a matter of fact). I’ve reached out to the company to see if they’d be willing to hook me up with a discount code for my readers, and if I get that, I’ll update the post. I also have several more sample packs to try out, so I’ll have another flavor round-up coming out later in the spring with more recommendations.
In the meantime, may your brew be strong and your mug be steaming!
(That may be the lamest way I’ve ever ended a post.)