Rob Zombie vs. Darth Vader vs. David Lynch: Celebrity Coffee Showdown
The Straight Story
Coffee A was judged to be weak, dull, flat, dusty and astringent. Inoffensive but without any distinctive character.
Coffee B was also undistinguished. The pros described it as "flat," "peanuty," "metallic" and "stale," but Rotsko would be "happy to drink this in a restaurant." Even at most expensive restaurants, this coffee maven says, the coffee tends to be awful.
Coffee C, described above, had a distinct flavor profile with subtleties not found in any of the other coffees.
Coffee D was universally loathed with a variety of descriptors that included "cleanser," "cigarette ash," "pencil shavings," "burned leather," "darkest roast I've ever had in my life" and "dangerous to drink." Can we score it below 80, one taster asked. What was the lowest score, I thought to myself, one could possibly give to a coffee?
Coffee E didn't fare so well. A combo of pros and amateurs described it as "dead," "astringent," "woodsy," "moldy," "charred" and "like wet socks."
Coffee A = Star Wars Dark Side Coffee Roast
Coffee B = David Lynch House Roast
Coffee C = Intelligentsia Kenya Thiriku
Coffee D = Rob Zombie Hellbilly Brew Organic French Roast
Coffee E = David Lynch Espresso Roast
Among the pros, the hands-down favorite was Kenya Thiriku. With its complex flavor profile and floral notes, it was easy to pick it out amid the other four.
As for the rest of the coffees, bland and boring was the Vader. Indeed, the force is weak in this one. So much for the Dark Side.
Both David Lynch coffees were roasted by Allegro, but only one was deemed drinkable. The espresso was nasty and over-roasted, a technique sometimes used to impart robustness or mask a defect in the beans. The House Roast, flat and inoffensive, was, for all its mediocrity, a cut above most restaurant coffee.
Rob Zombie's coffee was not simply the worst coffee on the table but one of the worst coffees ever to assault our palates. Looking at the beans, splayed on the table afterward, they were black as tar, covered in an oil-spill sheen and clumped together in the bag like refugees. The coffee had a slimy mouthfeel and a chemical flavor, despite a label trumpeting its organic status. Rotsko speculated it had a "core defect." That's putting it mildly.
Celebs shilling for products is hardly new, but there's a phrase marketing people like to use: "brand integrity." George Lucas would probably approve a Darth Vader-themed petting zoo if it kept money flowing into Lucasfilm's coffers. Even Rob Zombie's goofy website, which sells everything from knee-high socks and keychains to lunchboxes and bobblehead dolls, doesn't diminish his brand. (What, no Rob Zombie snuggie? We would buy that.)
It's the David Lynch coffee that's the strangest. Here's a guy who seems like he actually cares about a good cup of joe. Allegro is a respectable company, and some effort has been made, especially with his house blend. It had little character and wasn't terribly fresh, but it was totally drinkable. With all the terrific specialty coffee roasters on the West Coast -- Intelligentsia, Stumptown, Four Barrel, Flying Goat, etc. -- why not produce a good coffee? A question as impenetrable as the ending of "Lost Highway."