It’s hard to get beyond the all-consuming aluminum cans that Abracadabra appears in. Decorated by the Los Angeles-based Dang Wayne Olsen, each piece from the Vermont roaster comes wrapped in a miniature tapestry covered in illos of jovial kitsch worth ogling intensely once the caffeine kicks in—honeycombs, dripping mushrooms, other assorted psychedelia.
Once you’re finished eyeballing the wallpaper, hopefully before the can loses its chill, it’s time for sweet surprises and dark beans. I won’t be the insufferable critic who attempts to frighten art roast rookies with pretentious threats detailing reasons amateurs ought to be scared to imbibe. Nevertheless, neophytes should probably avoid these beans too close to bedtime.
Or they can ease in with Abracadabra’s Chill Brew, a hemp-infused Ethiopia Gedeb bean packing 20 mg of extract. I won’t sit here and pretend it calmed me down, but I will say that I walked away from the experience feeling relatively balanced and was impressed by how the promise of tangerine and caramel came through in every sip.
Of the choices sent to us, the standout is probably Nitro Cold Brew, a single-origin pick from the Guatemalan Finca La Esperanza bean. The Abracadabra copywriter does it some justice in the marketing description, calling it a “rich, creamy, nutty, chocolatey coffee which cascades straight to your brain.” But it’s that rush right past your nasal passage that’s worth writing home about.
Only bitter to the point that you can tell there is a bite without enduring too much of a tongue-curl, I posit that the Nitro is an ideal entry point for someone who may not be comfortable with the idea of sipping coffee without milk or sugar crutches. Easy on the tongue, stomach, and lips, it almost seems as if it could make for a workout beverage. Black as it is, the buzz rolls smoothly and quenches to some degree, plus serves as a lively booster.
We anticipate a lot more packaged coffees—in cans and other containers, hemp-infused or otherwise—in the coming years, as more and more of our parents and grandparents seek CBD and get exhausted with the same chain garbage. Java is a natural vessel for a lot of natural aids, and those who wed the worlds of caffeine and holistic medicine will be seen as contemporary gods. For now, Abracadabra is one of the few brands I have experienced, particularly on the East Coast, that has the magic that it takes to make such a matrimony work.
At $16 for a four-pack of the Nitro and $28 for that much of the Chill Brew to get shipped, I’ll probably wait until I see it surface in local stores before re-upping. If you’re fortunate enough to stumble onto some cans in a cooler at your local grocer though, be sure to grab me one.
Citizen Strain/Grain is an amalgamation of a bunch of us who, in addition to the hard and oftentimes depressing journalism we report for the Dig, also enjoy sampling and writing about the various beers, spirits, and cannabis products that vendors from near and far send our way. If you want us to check out your product, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.