Tuesday, December 27, 2022

A New (to me) Coffee with Attitude and a Punch


[This is a review of a coffee I discovered several months ago.]

While meandering through my local Whole Foods Market a few weeks ago, I came across a coffee with an interesting name: "Punch in the Face." As an amateur boxer, the name intrigued me enough that I had to try some. I picked up two 12 oz. cold cans to take home with me. 

The roaster of this fine brew is Backyard Beans, in Lansdale, Pennsylvania. Before I bore you with more of my commentary, here's the 411 on the coffee itself: 


When I saw that coffee at Whole Foods, I knew I had to get some for John Preston, a coffee-loving buddy, in case it's not available in his area. 

One afternoon a few days later, I got brave enough to try Punch in the Face. Not wanting to exercise moderation in this particular tasting fest, I decided to pound two 12 oz. cans of PITF. 

The coffee tasted great. It had good flavors, including robust Latin American beans, chocolate, caramel, and a wee bit of chicory. 

But PITF also gave me one hell of a buzz. I felt that intense head rush as I was finishing the coffee, while I walked outdoors during the cold winter afternoon, and for more than an hour after I drank my last drop of the stuff. 

A Punch in the Face, indeed. That coffee lived up to its name. It was actually a pretty good feeling. However, I want to be more precise here. 

It has been a long time since I have been punched in the face by another man with bare knuckles. Similarly, it has been a long time since I punched another man's face with a bare fist. In case you've never experienced one, a bare fist punch generates the sensations, if not the sounds, of bone cracking against teeth or bone (say in a punch to the other fellow's chin). The puncher may badly bruise or cut up his hands and seriously injure them, requiring medical treatment. The punch delivered by the PITF coffee is not like a bare fist punch.

On the other hand, during my adult life, I have been punched in the face many times by a fist in a boxing glove, and have delivered gloved punches to other men's handsome mugs a lot of times. 

A key difference between gloved fist and bare fist is that the former lands with a muffled thump or thud, instead of that awful bone-on-bone cracking. There's a common misconception that it hurts less to receive a punch from a boxing glove. Having been belted pretty hard with heavily-padded 18 oz. gloves, I wouldn't agree with that simplistic assessment. A gloved punch still hurts, it just hurts somewhat differently than one delivered by a bare fist. Punching with a boxing glove is also much less likely to badly hurt the puncher's hand. 

Back to the Punch in the Face coffee, I knew that brew was mighty potent. I wanted to find out just how strong it was. In an email, Amanda at Backyard Beans Coffee told me that PITF has twice the amount of caffeine as regular coffee. That means that a 12 oz. can has 275 mg. of caffeine. Whoa. Remember, I slammed down two cans of that coffee in a short time. 

Thus, I had been "punched in the face," not once, but twice. In effect, the coffee clobbered me with boxing's classic combination: the ol' one-two. That means that PITF first stuck a quick left jab in my face to distract me and block my vision. Then, while the coffee blocked my view, it belted me with a hard right cross to my face. I never even had a chance to see that second punch coming. 

I would be willing to concede that the coffee had a better strategy than me, except for one very important fact. I didn't get any chance to hit the coffee back! I'm a trained boxer; I know I would have given that coffee a tough contest if I could have faced it while I was wearing boxing gloves, and if we were in the ring together. But how does a guy punch coffee, especially after he's already drunk it and it's gone for all practical purposes? 

My buddy, John, wants me to enjoy this coffee with a fine cigar. I told him I was afraid that would knock me on my ass! So he suggested a milder cigar. He convinced me. I just have to do it. 

I have been enjoying that potent coffee lately. I like the flavor with its rich mix of tones. I also enjoy its boldness and intensity, and its "in your face" attitude, as evinced by its clever name: "Punch in the Face." I'm not here to advertise or sell any coffee, but I hope some of my Spartan brothers here who like an intense coffee will give this one a try. It's among the best coffees I've drunk in a long time. 

I should say that I prefer coffees with a bold, rich taste. I started drinking coffee as a high school student. My coffee palate was not really developed during those days. I was happy to consume whatever coffee Dad and Mom (may they rest in peace) served at breakfast in our home. I enjoyed that coffee just fine, but it was all I knew.

I expanded the range of coffees I liked when I was a college student. I savored light roasts, dark roasts, and medium roasts. I tasted coffees from Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Hawaii, and Kenya. All along, I enjoyed the coffees that stood up as bold, the ones with intense flavor. That preference has endured throughout my adult life

The Punch in the Face coffee continues my personal taste tradition. I have discovered that the cold version of PITF is even enjoyable on a cold winter's day, like this February Saturday when I am savoring it. I expect that the cold and hot versions will be just as good in the spring and summer. 

More closely to our men's community, I think the Punch in the Face coffee will also facilitate some good old-fashioned and wholesome male-bonding. One of my mentors in men's work, an admirable man named Jay Jairdullo, recently got me thinking about the value of surrounding myself with a group of like-minded men like those in the Spartan Tribe. Jay is right, and it's interesting how men bond and become friends. 

Over the last few months, I have sought to expand my personal community of men. In addition to the fine men I am meeting at the Spartan Tribe, I have recently become friends with one particular man named John. He and I became fast buddies. Of course, coffee has been a point of connection between us.

John and I are also enthusiastically talking about putting the gloves on for a friendly boxing match sometime later this year. It should be quite a contest. He and I are already pretty pumped up about it. It will be some serious fun. Supportive as ever, my mentor Jay is excited about it, too. 

Our friendly sports contest will be followed by a good steak dinner, cigars, some good whiskey (possibly distilled by another friend!), and the aptly named coffee.

Of course, that coffee has to be part of our bout. But that stuff has twice the caffeine as regular coffee, so I don't want my buddy drinking that in his corner between rounds. I will need to inspect his water bottle! 🤣 

For the moment, I invite you to enliven your day with some fine java. I'm currently enjoying (but not advertising!) Punch in the Face, but of course, enjoy your choice of the bean. 

Thanks for reading, and may good coffee be yours to enjoy!

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