Kungaloosh to all ye, Skippers and jungle-dwellers alike! Welcome aboard the World Famous Skipper Freddy Review. Keep your hands and arms inside the boat. The crocodiles are always looking for a hand out.
Speaking of handouts, I got a message via Instagram from one Expedition Roasters (formerly Trader Sam’s Coffee Company) asking if they could send me some of their Disneyland inspired coffee roasts to try. And I was all… “yeah!”
So this begins the first of many, I hope (I’m talking to you Tesla) Skipper Freddy’s product review!
The Set-Up: I love drinking coffee in the morning. At the height of the Sudoku craze around the turn of the century, I realized that my ultimate happy place is to be on my couch, my family sleeping safely and soundly, the sun coming up outside, and a hot cup of joe in my hand. While the Sudoku thing left with my sanity, my coffee love stuck.
Now that doesn’t mean I turned into a coffee connoisseur or anything. I like the flavor of coffee and feeling it gives me, but am not good at determining anything special about one cup over another. I can usually tell if the coffee is too dark or too light, but other than that, I’m winging it.
So to make sure I could provide a review worth the beans it’s printed on, I brought in an expert.
My friend, Steve Ross, is an amazing bunch of guys. He’s a concert promoter, a photographer, an activist, and a pastor. He works at Children’s Hunger Fund, an international charity that provides food to hungry kids (in case you couldn’t guess by the name). He’s got 7 kids with another on the way (Go Jamie!). But his secret super power is turning a cup of coffee into an experience to remember.
We got together one morning last week, and with the help of Steve’s mad scientist pour over equipment plus two bags of Expedition Roasters coffee, we brewed up our happy place!
Unboxing: If Apple has taught me anything, it’s to appreciate good packaging. My Expedition Roasters shipment arrived quickly and labeled for fun! Inside there were fun promo pieces to browse like a window sticker and collectible trading cards for the coffees in the box. I work with a bunch of designers, so we can all get pretty critical. It’s nice when the only comment they can give is to offer a suggestion to make the trading cards pop with some spot UV on some of the design elements.
Beneath the promo our two coffees were packed side by side with the packages showing art side up. This was a simple but nice touch because the art is all part of drawing you into the Expedition Roasters experience. Both packages are expertly designed to call back memories of visits to the Disneyland attractions they represent. Honestly, these packages are so well done, you would believe that they were done by the Disney folks themselves. “Immersive” is the only word I can think to use.
Jungle Banana Pie: Our first taste was the Jungle Cruise themed coffee – Skipper’s Brew: Jungle Banana Pie. As a former Jungle Cruise Skipper myself, I was a bit cautious. You see, every Skipper knows that when you first start up the Congo Queen and get her prop spinning on a warm Anaheim morning, you churn up a murky aroma of all the river detritus that settles over night. [Magic Spoiler Ahead] This includes rotting leaves, rat carcasses, dead baby ducks (circle of life, y’all), and spilled Dole Whips. If Expedition Roasters wants to summon up memories of mornings on a Jungle Cruise boat, they’re gonna have to break my own sense memories of that true-life adventure.
When we zipped open the package (unintentionally, but appropriately shaped like Mickey ears) we could immediately tell that this was going to be a pleasant jungle excursion. The aroma definitely smelled like banana, but not banana flavoring. I don’t want a coffee that tastes like banana Laffy Taffy. That would be bad.
Steve Ross ‘the Coffee Boss’ set to work calculating the proper brewing temperature, water and coffee mix we would need for this tasting. We went with 36 grams of coffee, 550 ml of hot water, for 3 minutes 45 seconds. Professor Steve first wet the filter to get rid of any paper taste. Then he poured an initial draught of hot water on the coffee just to wake up the flavors. After a few moments of bloom the real pouring began.
A couple minutes into the pour, Steve realized that Expedition Roasters’ medium grind was going to be too fine for all 550 ml to pass through in the time we’d set. For the amateur coffee brewer like me, that means that the water went through the coffee slower and therefore brews darker than desired. Regardless, the smell in the room told us that we were going to be in for a good tasting coffee.
Although I prefer a little milk in my coffee, we drank it black to take in all the flavors as the roaster intended. And it was good. Real good. Because of the slower brew the coffee was dark and creamy. While Steve prefers a lighter brew to enable him to catch all the high notes of the coffee bean, I liked the way the dark balanced with the banana flavors. Steve recommends using a French press to brew this coffee instead of a pour over. Rather than tasting like banana candy (probably what you’re afraid of, dear reader) it actually reminded me of a good, toasted banana bread with butter. Shoot. Now I’m getting hungry.
Jungle Banana Pie
- Character: Bold!!
- Notes: Creamy
- Brew Method: Recommend French Press
Enchanted Tiki Coconut: When we opened the second bag of coffee, the smell burst out like birds singing words! Trader Sam’s Coffee’s Enchanted Tiki Coconut takes you straight to the island paradise of Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room where José, Fritz, Michael, and Pierre conduct a chorus of feathered friends in a musical luau of tropical storm proportions. The coffee’s aroma when we opened the bag was soothing and sweet with a hint of coconut bliss.
To correct for our brew calculations with Jungle Banana Pie, Steve decided to add more water, this time to 580 ml. During the initial pour, Enchanted Tiki Coconut surprised us by blooming up much more than Jungle Banana Pie. Steve believes that was possibly due to the recency of the roasting. And it bloomed up like a muffin while the island coconut smells filled the air.
The flavor of the coffee was definitely more on display with this brew. The lighter brew allowed us to taste the citrus notes and coconut blend much better, which made Steve a happy Honolulu camper. Again, the coconut flavor wasn’t overpowering at all. I thought it might taste like sun tan lotion (Steve said he doesn’t know what I’m talking about). Instead it tasted like a coconut tree breeze on a veranda in an island paradise. Poetry.
Enchanted Tiki Coconut
- Character: Clarity!!
- Notes: Citrus
- Brew Method: Recommend Pour Over, 580 ml, 36 grams
The Wrap-Up: Expedition Roasters wants to provide a coffee drinking experience that hearkens back to memories of visits to Disney Parks. With their beautiful artwork and packaging, thoughtful flavors, and branding that’s inspired by classic Disney attractions, their coffees are a loving tribute to the Walt’s legacy. Grab a bag or two today, and brew up your happy place!
Get yours at ExpeditionRoasters.com.
DISCLOSURE: I’m not being paid for this review – unless you call sipping on a luxuriously creamy mug of Jungle Banana Pie at the moment “being paid.”
Wanna learn how to do a pour over with Steve Ross “The Coffee Boss?” We went live on Instagram during our tasting of Enchanted Tiki Coconut. It’s just like being there… without the smells and tastes. Click the cat below to watch the video. Enjoy!