I tried a light roast from Black Rifle Coffee Company, stepping outside my usual comfort zone of medium roasts.
About Black Rifle Coffee Company
There are three big things that stand out about Black Rifle Coffee Company:
- They roast to order, so it’s as fresh as possible, and they usually ship the same day you order.
- The coffee is fresh.
- It’s a veteran-owned business.
- They focus on small batches.
Their beans come from Brazil and Colombia. Beans from Colombia tend to be mild, acidic, and a little sweet. Beans from Brazil tend to be low on acidity, a little nutty, and a little chocolatey. Both tend to be medium-bodied.
What I Ordered and Tried
Even though I usually go for medium roasts, I’ve noticed that a lot of the ones I’ve ordered from other companies have turned out to be a little darker than what I’m used to. I didn’t want that to be the case again here, so I went with a light roast—Silencer Smooth Roast-this time.
Just to be honest, the feel of the brand as a whole made me suspect all of the coffee would be darker than what I would consider light or medium. I’m glad I made that assumption. Again, this isn’t an unusual thing so it’s not a strike against the coffee I tried.
The light seems like more of a medium roast to me. This is about as light as the blonde roast at Starbucks. At Caribou Coffee, though, light roasts are too light for me and I prefer a medium roast there.
This coffee is made from 100 percent Colombian Excelso beans, which tend to be bright, acidic, balanced, and generally pretty mild. I’ve tried beans that were brighter and this didn’t seem especially acidic to me, but it was mild, smooth, and balanced. I’ll get into that later.
What Else Is Available
You can get:
There are several options, so your coffee tastes and brewing methods are covered here.
There’s only one light roast, and it’s the one I got for this review. It’s the Silencer Smooth Roast, available in a 12-oz. bag or 5-lb bag.
This is where you start getting into a good variety. Choose from:
- AK-47 Espresso Blend (also available in 5-lb bag), a full-bodied blend of Colombian and Brazilian beans
- Gunship Coffee Roast, an easy-to-drink 100 percent Colombian Excelso offering
- Warriors Heart Blend, which allows you to support military and first responders with each purchase; all profits go to the Warriors Heart Foundation
- Caf Coffee Roast (also available in 5-lb bag), a 100 percent Colombian Excelso option, which contains twice as much caffeine as your average cup of coffee
- VTAK Berserker Blend, on the darker end of the roasting scale and made from Colombian coffee beans
- Thin Blue Line Coffee Roast, which is similar to Just Black and helps the law enforcement community via donation of a portion of the profits
- Caffeine and Hate Blend, made from Robusta and Excelso beans and ready to perk you up with a little more caffeine than your average roast
- Freedom Fuel Limited Edition Texas Roast, which is a dark roast with a “bold, smoky flavor”
- Just Black Coffee Roast (also available in 5-lb bag), the staple, no-frills roast made from 100 percent Colombian Excelso beans
- “Coffee, or Die” Roast, a dark, smooth, flavorful pick
- Blackbeard’s Delight Roast, a dark, smooth, and slightly chocolatey option
- Black Buffalo Roast, which is dark, delicious, and straightforward
- Freedom Blend Coffee, a blend that’s dark and bold but still smooth
- Fit Fuel Blend, a medium/dark roast blend of Excelso and Robusta beans with extra caffeine that begs you to use it as pre-workout instead of all those fruity powdered concoctions on the market
- Just Decaf Coffee Roast, a 100 percent Colombian medium/dark roast that doesn’t have the caffeine of the other options
- Freedom Fuel Coffee Roast, a bold 100 percent Excelso roast that’ll get you going
- Beyond Black Coffee Roast (also available in 5-lb bag), dark roasted 100 percent Colombian Excelso beans that some reviewers describe as bold, strong, and smoky but not bitter
- Murdered Out Coffee Roast, the darkest, smokiest roast they have, made with Colombian beans
Coffee Rounds (Single Serving)
These come in:
- Just Black
- Death Punch
- Mixed selection
- Freedom Blend
- Just Decaf
These are just called Instant Sticks. You won’t see a wide selection on the site. They’re 100 percent Arabica coffee.
- Gift Cards
- Accessories, like a Toddy Cold Brew System or travel press
- Partner Products
This part’s pretty straightforward and comes down to whether you have or want to use your coffee grinder.
- Whole Bean
How I Made It the First Time
As usual, when testing out a new coffee, I used the 8-cup Chemex with a paper filter the first time. I used water right off the boil that stayed hot between pours in an electric kettle.
There wasn’t much of a bloom and the coffee came out especially dark in color. I was a little surprised and decided to use less the next time. I had already used less than I usually do on an average day when I’m not reviewing coffee. If I’m not reviewing and I’m just trying to get myself through a busy morning or afternoon, I usually just pour the ground beans into the filter until it looks about right.
Take-Two and Final Thoughts
The second time I made it, I used the Ninja Coffee Bar to brew a 10-cup pot. I measured the amount the scoop that came with the machine recommended, keeping it closer to the low end of the range. There wasn’t a huge difference in flavor between the two methods, but the pot I made with less coffee (adjusted for the number of cups) was more enjoyable.
In fact, it was so enjoyable, I skipped the weekly trip to the local roaster I love so much. Black Rifle Coffee is something I could commit to drinking daily almost as easily as I committed to the local stuff. It seemed mellower, mild, smooth, and tasted incredibly fresh.
Will I permanently convert to Black Rifle? I doubt it, due to the convenience and experience of going to a coffee shop. However, I’d have no problem drinking this every morning (and afternoon, when deadlines are looming and I need a recharge).
In the bag, the coffee smelled promising. It was ground before it was shipped, so I can’t comment on the appearance or smell of the whole beans, nor can I say what the coffee smelled like immediately after it was ground.
As it was brewing, I lost a little hope. It started to smell a little stale and over-roasted. Not promising. The good news, though, was that I had to really try to analyze the scent. Some coffee is just bad (and I’m not calling the Black Rifle coffee bad here), so bad that it takes over the room or even several rooms of a house.
From a distance, it was just your slightly above average coffee aroma as it brewed. It was pleasant.
I wanted so badly to be able to pick out notes to tell you about in this review, but I couldn’t. It tastes like good coffee, but that’s it. Maybe it’s because the flavor is especially complex. I can’t say, “Oh, this tastes like it has citrus notes and a hint of floral” or anything like that. It’s just good coffee.
There was no ashy aftertaste, which I appreciated. Sometimes I get that from certain brands or roasts. This one just satisfied my craving for coffee, didn’t taste especially stale, and generally made me happy to have found another winner.
This is a smooth, mellow coffee with a medium body. It felt creamy but not heavy. It was far from syrupy, but also not thin. It was a satisfying, mild middle ground, perfect for summer days when you still want hot coffee.
I’m not sure how it would perform as an iced coffee; I didn’t try it that way and usually prefer to use darker, heavier blends for that so they can stand up to the ice with ease.
I felt alert but never really got jittery after I drank this (both times). I also noticed that I didn’t really crash after I had it, either. That’s usually more of an issue for me if I have a cup in the afternoon, which is what the Chemex round was.
My energy was even and sustained. I can usually drink coffee even late at night and then sleep fine no matter what, but after I had this around 7:00 one night, I had trouble falling asleep around 11:00.
I actually love the packaging. It’s the traditional bag that most coffee comes in, but it’s got a sleek matte black finish with a simple silver design on the front. There’s nothing unusual about the packaging materials but the aesthetics are great. They keep the focus on the coffee and represent what the company is all about.
Some packages are mostly black, with less of a contrast between the bag itself and the writing. Some—like the limited edition Freedom Fuel—have a little extra, albeit still muted, color. It still fits within the brand quite well, though.
Shipping, Prices, and Where to Buy
You can order on the Black Rifle Coffee Company website, which is where I found the best deal. If you do like it, you can set up a subscription. Get it every 14, 21, 30, or 60 days and save about 50 cents per single bag. When you have a subscription, you also get free shipping.
Without the subscription, expect to pay around $15.00 for a 12-ounce bag. Set it up to get one, two, three, or four bags each time. When you order more than one bag, you save more money.
You can also buy 5-lb bags of some roasts for about $75.00.
If you refer a friend, they save 20 percent and you get $5.00, so you can effectively get a bag of coffee for around $10.00.
Black Rifle Coffee Company shipped my coffee fast. I ordered on Saturday night and they shipped it on Monday. The coffee traveled from Mount Juliet, Tennessee to the Atlanta, Georgia area and I had it by Thursday afternoon. They used FedEx Economy Shipping and it was delivered by USPS.
Other places to shop:
Only Amazon and the prices are higher there from what I saw.
You can also check their Dealer Map for stores that sell it near you.