OK: A taste retest of two similar-sounding coffees on an over-warm day at the nub end of a July heatwave? Are you kidding me?

It’s one of the privileges of being a minion of a coffee company that you get to try out the goods. But you know what happens, right? You pour cup after cup of the Everyday Italiana Decaf and it’s so good it becomes the first, last and always cup of the day. A satisfying, amenable, comfy coffee that weaves itself into the afternoon as much as it unzipped the morning.

But what’s this? Word comes down from the top, El DeCaffito himself, that customers have asked him about our Brasilia Swiss Water and Orizaba Mountain Water Decafs. What are the differences? Which tastes nicest when? 

Your stash of Everyday Italiana Decaf is confiscated, and you are ordered on an expedition of discovery. To scale and survey the rainforests of Brazil, the mountain scenery of Switzerland and Mexico and come back with an explorer’s account of your findings. For Decaf. For humanity.

Actually, the memo looked like this.

Swiss water coffee memo

It’s pointless telling you that drinking coffee for a living holds any high drama or jeopardy, so we’ll take off our hiking boots, straw Panamas, put down the machetes and get on with it. 

Brasilia Swiss Water Decaf vs Orizaba Mountain Water Decaf: The rules. 

We hand-ground both Brasilia Swiss Water Decaf beans and Orizaba Mountain Water Decaf Coffee beans in two separate grinds. A medium grind for a French press and a fine grind for an espresso-style from a moka pot. We had to be sure not to overgrind the French press in case it over brewed in the cafetière and, likewise, sufficiently grind the espresso so its brief rendezvous with super-heated steam water in the moka pot would develop the brew enough. There’s a whole art to grinding, detailed right here on the Ground Zero blog

Brasilia Swiss Water Decaf Coffee

This should be the bolder of our two beans and it scored well, particularly from the Moka pot. It has a slightly richer roast with that caramelised chocolate note running right through the liquid. It produced a nice crema, and we would challenge anyone to call this a decaf in a blind tasting. It has enough body to make it taste full and substantial, with the flavour oils front and centre of the brew.

The French press cup was more laid back, but had equally delicious notes, not so much caramelised but still dark enough to make a satisfying drink.

No mistake, this is everything promised by Swiss Water decaffeination – all the original flavour is still there, everything except over 99% of the caffeine.

Orizaba Mountain Water Decaf Coffee

On paper – as it is on the packaging – Orizaba Mountain Water Decaf Coffee is a slightly lighter roast than the Brasilia Swiss Water Decaf coffee. The water in this case comes from the glacial meltwater streams on Mexico’s highest mountain, Pico de Orizaba. Other than that, the origin of the beans and the difference in roast, the process is very similar to Swiss Water. Once again, then, we expect great things from our Orizaba Mountain Water Decaf Coffee.

It did not disappoint us. Even after the truly excellent Brasilia Swiss Water decaf, our Orizaba Mountain Water Decaf shone in the Moka pot brew review. It’s lighter and has some of that chocolate goodness, but also fruit and a honey-like nutty sweetness. This is less bold than the Brazilian Swiss Water decaf, but rounder and just as satisfying.

The French press gave us cause for thought though. Steeped for a few minutes in the cafetière, we found a subtly more developed fruit and nut note than we had from the Moka pot, as if the chocolatey-ness had moved over and let it through. We went back for more from the French press but, as Sheryl Crow and Cat Stevens might sing, the first cup was the deepest.

Brasilia Swiss Water Decaf vs Orizaba Mountain Water Decaf: The result.

Both coffees are magnificent, but as there can only be one winner…

No, scrub that. 

What surprised us was the Orizaba Mountain Water Decaf Coffee’s performance in the French press. This reviewer prefers espresso style, but the cafetière version of Orizaba Mountain Water Decaf revealed a lot of hidden nuances in the flavour, so Orizaba Mountain Water Decaf gets the vote for the French press. Brasilia was not far behind, however.

The bolder roast of the Brasilia Swiss Water Decaf did very well in the frankly terrifying environs of the Moka pot and came out in one piece, so to speak, with its trousers on. After all the gurgling and percolating, it delivered a satisfying full punch of flavour.

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