Friday, February 28, 2014

Cravens Coffee - Sumatra Mandheling IKA

To further my coffee education, about three weeks ago I contacted Simon Thompson, owner of Cravens Coffee, and arranged a tour of the roasting facility. Cravens Coffee is a local roasting company located here in Spokane, WA. Simon replied that they don't really offer tours, but invited for a cupping. This was my first cupping experience and there is only one word to describe the time spent at Cravens Coffee: Amazing! After our meeting, Simon provided me with three coffees to sample and review. This Sumatra Mandheling IKA is the first review of the three. I'll write a more detailed account of my visit in the days ahead.

Quick Details
  • Origin: Near Lake Toba in northern Sumatra
  • Process: semi-washed wet/natural process
  • Roast: Dark / Italian
  • Notes: Mandheling is the finest of the dry-mill Sumatras.
  • Brewing method: Pour over

Sumatra Mandheling IKA - Cravens Coffee
As I opened this bag of Sumatra Mandheling, two things jumped right out; the rich coffee and cocoa aroma and the oil sheen on the beans. Every bean was covered with oil. For a long time I thought oil on the beans was very important for coffee, but Simon explained that it only happens with darker roasts when you are roasting for flavors. But more on this later.

Once the beans were ground they had the same rich coffee and cocoa aroma mix. Since I am now using a burr grinder I know what real bloom is. It's amazing just how much I was missing out on.

So anyway, once the pour over was done, the first sips from the cup are slightly syrupy, with earth and fresh baked bread as the prominent flavors. There is any underlying sweetness and some spicy nuances mixed in. The coffee is bold, but not overpowering and there is a warm earthy sweetness that lingers on the back of my palate.

As the coffee cools in the cup a bit, the warm bread turns to more of a beefy flavor, but the same after taste is present.

This is the fifth cup of Cravens Sumatra Mandheling that I have brewed before doing this review, I have been experimenting with the amount of coffee to use for each cup. Which, I finally have figured out now. One thing I have noticed with the testing is that this coffee has the same flavor characteristics no matter how strongly it's brewed.

I've always been a fan of coffee from Sumatra and this Mandheling from Cravens Coffee is the perfect all day, any day coffee for me.

Rated 96


I would like to thank Simon Thompson for taking the time to continue my coffee education an for providing the sample for this review. If you would like to try Cravens Coffee it is available for order on CravensCoffee.com.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Sosa Robusto

The Sosa Robusto is another of the cigars on my daily smoke list and I seem to always have a few in the humidor. These sell for around two bucks each and sometimes you can pick them up at prices lower than that.

Quick Details
  • Cigar Size: 5  x 50 Robusto
  • Wrapper: Connecticut Broad-leaf Maduro
  • Filler: Dominican and Honduran
  • Cutting Method: Colibri V-Cutter
  • Paired with: Diet Pepsi
  • Price: $2.00 each in bundles of 20

Sosa Robusto Cigar
If you look at the image of this cigar you can see that construction wise this cigar is top notch! The oily wrapper contains only the finest of veins and the Connecticut broad-leaf is wrapped on with near seamless care. Feeling down the body there are no hard or soft areas and testing the foot for aromas, there are notes of spicy cedar and earth. Once the end is clipped the same flavors show up while sampling the free cold draw.

As the cigar burns there are flavor notes of toast, spicy cedar, earth, cocoa, molasses and rich tobacco. I wouldn't call this cigar complex in the flavor mix department, it's just a solid, good tasting medium body cigar.

The even burn creates plumes of smoke from both ends and leaves behind a firm, light gray ash that falls near the half way mark.  Also, a nice oil ring develops on the wrapper ahead of the burn.

For a budget stick, I think this cigar has a lot to offer.

Rated: 91




Wednesday, February 26, 2014

AF-1 Robusto - Emilio Cigars

Over the past couple of years I have smoked several of these but have never quite had the time to do the quality review this AF-1 Robusto from Emilio Cigars deserves. I have been picking these up from time to time and and have a few of these floating around in my humidors. I'm not sure exactly where this cigar came from so I will give everyone credit,  BuckHead Cigars, Cigar Train, and House of Emilio.

Quick Details
  • Cigar Size: 5  x 50 Robusto
  • Wrapper:  San Andres maduro
  • Filler: Nicaraguan
  • Cutting Method: Xikar guillotine
  • Paired with: Diet Pepsi
  • Price: $6.75 from Cigar Train



AF-1 Robusto - Emilio Cigars
This cigar has been around for a while and like I mentioned earlier I've smoked quite a few AF-1's. Being familiar with this stick one thing really stands out; consistency.  Every AF-1 I've smoked has the same top-notch construction, a great burn and the same fantastic flavor mix.

Once out of the cellophane the AF-1 is a great looking cigar. The oily San Andres maduro wrapper is nearly vein free and it's rolled on with seamless skill. Testing the foot for aromas there are strong notes of cocoa and rich tobacco, these same notes are present in the firm but free cold draw.

After toasting the foot and lighting the cigar, the first two draws are a mix of black pepper and cocoa. After the initial black pepper is gone the flavor changes to a medium body mix of cocoa, tobacco and toast. As the burn progresses toward the cigar's mid point the cocoa notes change to more of a semi-sweet chocolate flavor. In the final half the flavor shifts to a mix of coffee, cream, chocolate and charcoal. This flavor mix is what I call "burnt mocha", and it's my all time favorite flavor mix, giving this cigar a long, flavor bomb finish.

If you like maduro wrapped cigars and haven't tried the AF-1 yet, I think you are really missing out on a great cigar!

Rated: 94

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Camacho Corojo Robusto

The newly designed brightly colored box and the bright new bands say bold, but is it? Read on and find out.

Quick Details
  • Cigar Size: 5  x 50 Robusto
  • Wrapper:  Authentic Corojo (5th priming)
  • Binder: Authentic Corojo
  • Filler: Authentic Corojo (3 primings)
  • Cutting Method: Colibri V-Cutter
  • Smoking Time: 65 minutes
  • Paired with: Diet Pepsi
  • Price: $7.99 purchased at Cigar Train

Camacho Corojo Robusto
Camacho did a great job with the new packaging. The first thing you will see with this cigar is how striking the bright red band looks against the dark brown Corojo wrapper. Overall finish of this cigar is great, the oily wrapper has tight seams and only the finest of veins are visible. Feeling down the body, it's packed tight, but not overly hard, and I there were no soft areas to be found.

To the nose, the cigar's foot had mixed aromas of anise, toast and molasses. The same flavor mix was present after clipping the end with my new Colibri V cutter and testing the free cold draw.  Also, the wrapper left a nice lasting sweetness on my lips.

After toasting the foot, the real excitement began. The first two draws were full bodied blasts of hot red pepper. I'm guessing the cigar was trying to tell me, "hello, I'm here"! But, there were only two draws of pepper and the full bodied flavor mix changed to a mix of oak and barnyard through most of the first third. The flaky light gray ash fell right at the 1/3 mark and then the flavor mixed changed quite a bit. In the last two third of the cigar I found notes of wheat, brown sugar, caramel, oak, cream, molasses and mild black pepper.

I always worry about wrapper damage when removing cigar bands, but this one easily came off with no damage at all. The burn line was a bit jagged, but never bad enough to correct and the cigar burned cool full length.

On the Camacho web site this cigar is billed as "...Robust, yet smooth". I found that statement to be true. The flavor mix was not the most complex, but it changed often enough to make the cigar interesting. This was one of the boldest, full bodied cigars I have smoked to date, but the smooth flavor mix created an enjoyable 65 minute smoking experience.

Rated: 93

Monday, February 24, 2014

Colibri Cutter V-Cut

This Colibri Cutter V-Cut is one of the gifts I received on Valentine's day from my fantastic wife.

Quick Details:
  • Operation: Spring loaded release
  • Style: V-Cut
  • Blade: Stainless Steel
  • Cigar Size: Up to 60 ring
  • Price: $39.00

For decades now I've been mainly using punches and low priced V cutters on my cigars. My typical V cutter is one of those I'd pay around $4.00 for and they really tear part of the cap out instead of cutting it.

Once I pulled the Colibri out of its' nice gift box I was surprised by it's weight, it was hefty, and that it had a spring loaded opening system. I thought that was a pretty neat feature. The stainless steel blade is much different than the cheap V cutters, it has a trailing point so it actually removes the V from the cigar starting at the top of the cap and cuts the bottom of the V last. I have tested it on several cigars and so far the super sharp blade has not caused any extra cap damage.

 A couple of things I found while reading on Colibri.com, they designed this cutter to create a deeper than normal V to increase the draw, see the picture below, and there is no warranty on their cutters.

Overall this is a great looking product that functions as good as it looks. It's a great addition to my cutter collection!

I give it an 8 out of 10 rating!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Press Release: BODEGA PREMIUM BLENDS ANNOUNCES PARTNERSHIP WITH ICON MANN™

BODEGA PREMIUM BLENDS ANNOUNCES PARTNERSHIP WITH ICON MANN™ FOR 2ND ANNUAL “POWER 50” PRE-OSCAR DINNER EXPERIENCE

Los Angeles  - February 20, 2014 - Bodega Premium Blends @BodegaCigars today announced their support of ICON MANN™ and the 2nd Annual pre-Oscar event.  ICON MANN™ is the leading lifestyle media company “championing the accomplishments and positive dialog surrounding the Diaspora of Black men.” Their impressive list of luminaries span from Award-winning actors/directors/musicians to Fortune 500 businessmen including numerous premiere Cultural Artistes, Media Moguls and Technology Entrepreneurs.
One of the many goals of ICON MANN™, according to its founding partner and CEO, Tamara N. Houston is to “recognize men from multiple countries and a wide array of industries who are using their tremendous professional success to advance the lives of others, be it communities, or nations in some meaningful way.

ICON MANN™ does not specify how this is done or have allegiance to any specific organization for their participation. ICON MANN™ only mandates that our men are involved to great affect so that the measure of success throughout the Diaspora is synonymous with one’s philanthropic commitment.”

ICON MANN™ pre-Academy Awards (Oscar) celebratory dinner will mark the inaugural relationship between the two. Comments Rob Mariani, BPB co-founder, “Bodega’s Reunión Aperitvo and Digestivo blend combination marries itself perfectly to ICON MANN’s very essence: Culture and Fellowship.”

“We are extremely pleased to be ICON MANN’s companion partner for this Oscar event”, stated Bodega Premium Blends’ CEO Gino Domanico aka @Cigar_G. “The cigar industry is like no other. You are not divided by race, religion, social status or political views. Cigar enthusiasts share a bond that is second to none.  We’re proud to be associated with these leaders of change”, adds Domanico.

Bodega Premium Blends (www.bpbcigars.com) is a Boutique Brand focused on offering only Premium, hand rolled Cigars. BPB’s mission is Investing in your Life’s moments.

About ICON MANN™
ICON MANN™, a lifestyle media company with a purpose; to positively change the global dialog surrounding the Diaspora of Black men. Being the best at what you do places you on the list. How you consistently pay-it-forward puts you in the room.


Gary A. Griffith

Friday, February 21, 2014

Cameroon Boyo: Cush Coffee

This Cameroon Boyo from Cush Coffee  is my first review using my new burr grinder.

Quick Details
  • Origin: Boyo, Cameroon
  • Elevation: 1550 meters above sea level
  • Cultivars: Boyo (Jamaica Blue Mountain derivative)
  • Process: fully washed, patio dried
  • Certifications: Organic, More than fair trade

Cameroon Boyo: Cush Coffee
The first thing I noticed was the amount of oil present on the beans. From first opening the bag, to pouring the ground coffee into the press, this Cameroon Boyo had strong aroma notes of chocolate and coffee.

Once the coffee had steeped and was cupped, there was a nice oily sheen floating on top. With the first few sips I could tastes flavor notes of sweet fruit, semi sweet chocolate and wood. The body was light and brisk with a clean semi sweet finish.

With the second cup from the press the woody flavor notes were stronger and the finish left a slightly acid aftertaste on my palate, but the underlying sweetness remained.

Next I would like to try this coffee with a full bodied Corojo wrapped cigar to see how the flavors highlight each other.

This Cameroon Boyo was another quality coffee roasted by Cush Coffee.

Rated 90


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Man O' War Humidor

Right now I am using two of these Man O' War humidors, one for ageing, the other my to-be-reviewed cigars. I actually picked up three of these off auction site and then traded one off. I wish that I hadn't done that since the two I have are at capacity and I have my daily cigars in a tuper-dore.

Quick Details
  • 100 cigar capacity
  • Spanish Cedar Lining, lift out tray and  three dividers
  • SureSeal Technology
  • Hidden Quadrant hinges
  • Felt lined bottom
  • Large rectangle humidifier
  • analog hygrometer
  • Dimensions: 13.5"W x 9.5"D x 6.25"H
  • Retail: $99.00

Man O' War Humidor
These humidors have much better construction than any I have owned in the past. They both pass the dollar bill test, hold the their humidity well, the dividers stay where you put them and even the locks work.

The downside is the rectangle humidifier and hygrometer that came with them suck! Oh sure they work OK, but they would not stay attached to the lid.  Both humidifiers have been replaced with Humi-care HX10 units that do stay attached to the lid. The hygrometers did work, but they have since been replaced with digital units.

This humidor earns an 8 out of 10 rating.


Press Release: BLUEGRASS CIGAR SUITE NAMED HOUSE OF EMILIO MASTER RETAILER

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014

Williamstown, Kentucky

BLUEGRASS CIGAR SUITE NAMED HOUSE OF EMILIO MASTER RETAILER

Nathan McIntyre, House of Emilio National Sales Director announced today that Bluegrass Cigar Suite, Williamstown, Kentucky has earned the distinction of House of Emilio Master Retailer.

"DK, and Jordan Kenner called us out of the blue several years ago having done their research through social media," McIntyre notes. "They are energetically engaged in online communication, reviews, and add a lot of creativity to being a retail tobacconist. It has been a pleasure to work with them from day one, and now to add this special shop as a Master Retailer."

"When you have access to such a diverse line up of quality cigars, its difficult not to support it," states Jordan Kenner, Chief of Social Media Management and Humidor Director for Bluegrass. "Top to bottom, or better yet, left to right, the House of Emilio portfolio provides my customer base a broad selection of awesome smokes that fit anyone's palate."

For more information, contact Bluegrass Cigar Suite at (859) 824-0969, or visit them at 1214C Main Street, Williamstown, KY 41097.

Gary A. Griffith

Bahia Blu Toro

Bahia Blu ToroThe Bahia Blu toro is another of those cigars that are part of my daily budget smoke mix. I pick these up quite often for a few pennies over a buck per stick and there are always a few in my humidor. Over the past couple of years I have smoked dozens of these yet have never reviewed them. So here goes...

This Bahia Blu Toro cigar has nice construction, it's packed well, the smooth oily claro colored wrapper is rolled on with nice seams and it's nearly vein free. From the foot there are notes of tea and toast while the smooth cold draw provides notes of spicy leather. 

Once the Bahia Blu is burning there are flavor notes of cedar, toast, butter, oak, white pepper and leather. All of the flavors are subtle and mild as the cigar starts in the mild body range and finishes its burn in the medium range. As the cigar burns a nice oil line develops on the wrapper and a soft light gray ash is left behind.

I smoke these as driving and kick-around cigars because they fare well with a relight later that day or even the next. With the subtle flavor mix these make good cigars for my non-cigar smoking friends that want to try a cigar for the first time. 

Rated: 90


Monday, February 17, 2014

Dissident Cigars: Press Release

On Saturday, March 15th, 2014 The D.C. TweetUp Cigar Shop Crawl will take place. The organizers of the event have teamed up with Dissident Cigars and the DC KEG BUS to create a raucous environment, aboard the Shop Hop Bus, to enjoy premium cigars and travel in style between four different Tobacconists in the Washington, D.C. Area. Red_Ryan and Gweedo C of Dissident Cigars are excited for the opportunity to participate in this years event and plan to make the embarkation aboard the bus one for the ages, with antics, giveaways, and other sundry shenanigans. Starting at 10 a.m., the bus embarks on an entertaining journey to W. Curtis Drapers in Bethesda, Maryland. From there, it continues on to Tobacco Leaf in Jessup, Maryland, before traveling to Chesapeake Cigar Company. The final stop of the rolling party will be at Aphelion Cigar Lounge, in Gambrills, Maryland. Proceeds from the DC TweetUp this year will benefit the American Diabetes Association.

Dissident Cigars formed in 2013 with the goal of bringing unique, quality handmade premium cigars with a D.I.Y. punk rock style to the boutique cigar market.
# # #
If you would like more information concerning the DC TweetUp, Please contact Ashley Byrd on Twitter at @Dabyrdman33 or Lawrence Miltenberger on Twitter at @_LOD. For more information from Dissident Cigars, email Gweedo C at Gweedo@dissidentcigars.com or red_ryan@dissidentcigars.com

1502 Black Gold Perfecto

This review of the 1502 Black Gold Perfecto is the last of the three perfectos. Before you start asking where you can get this cigar, currently it is only available at 1502 lounges.

Quick Details

1502 Black Gold Perfecto
Construction of this cigar, like all 1502 cigars, was top notch. The firmly packed cigar was covered with a dark maduro wrapper that was rolled on with near seamless skill and it contained only the finest of veins. Feeling down the oily wrapper it was covered with a medium amount of tooth. Once both ends were clipped the aroma from the foot had notes of toast and chocolate, the free cold draw contained notes of mild black pepper and semi-sweet chocolate.

Being a perfecto the cigar was easy to light and produced a large volume of smoke right from the beginning. The first medium body draws had notes of cocoa and black pepper, but the pepper was soon replaced with notes of leather and oak. Testing the retro hale, I found it to be mild oak. As the burn moved toward the mid point, flavor notes of earth, cream, brown sugar and molasses came and went. Once the burn had reached the mid point a bit of black pepper showed up again but quickly disappeared. Once the pepper was gone the strength moved more into the full range and the flavors toward the start of a full flavored, full bodied finish. First it was oak, then molasses, followed by sweet cream, coffee, charcoal and chocolate creating my favorite "burnt mocha" finish. I thought the flavors throughout were big and bold, I never had to wonder or guess what the flavor mix was.

Burn wise, again this cigar was a winner. The burn left behind a soft looking ash that held until the middle before falling. This cigar gave me 45 minutes of smoking pleasure.

If you haven't tried any of the cigars produced by 1502 Cigars, I think you are missing out!

Rated: 95

In Home Coffee Station

Well we got a start on our coffee station yesterday. Here are before and after pictures. We are still going to add shelves and some other things in place of the current wall hangings.

We took the buffet out of the kitchen and replaced the china hutch in the dinning room. Then removed the top from the china hutch for the coffee station. It has made a huge improvement to both rooms.





XIKAR Portable Ashtray Can

XIKAR Portable Ashtray Can
Most of you know the XIKAR Ash Can is not a new item, but it's a new item for me. Why I hadn't picked one of these up sooner is beyond me, I've needed one for years. 

I take quite a few 20 - 30 minute drives and most of the time I don's smoke a cigar because I have no place to store the left over half. Well now my problem is solved.







Quick Details
  • Stainless steel construction
  • Fits most cup holders
  • Ring and spiral secures cigars
  • Easy on lid keeps the ashes and odors contained
  •  2.75"  x  4"
  • Price $15.99 Amazon prime
This XIKAR portable ashtray can is actually pretty sweet. On days I pick the kids up from school I can put the remaining half in the can, put on the lid and no longer listen to the kids complain about  my stinky cigar in the ashtray. It's a win-win for me.

I give this XIKAR Ash Can a 10 out of 10 rating.


Thursday, February 13, 2014

Sons of Anarchy Gordo - By Black Crown Cigars

The last few trips to Cigar Train this Sons of Anarchy Gordo has been calling my name so finally, because of the artwork on the bands, I gave in and picked one up.

Quick Details
  • Cigar Size: 6  x 60 Gordo
  • Wrapper:  Ecuadorian Oscuro
  • Filler: Nicaraguan Cuban-seed
  • Cutting Method: Xikar guillotine
  • Paired with: Diet Pepsi
  • Purchased at Cigar Train
Sons of Anarchy Gordo
One can't help but notice the size of this cigar, it looks massive! Giving this stick the once over I can see the oily wrapper has a medium amount of tooth, contains only the finest of veins and was rolled on with near seamless skill. It's a great looking cigar.

Checking the foot for aromas there are notes of sweet tea and tobacco to the nose. Once the head was clipped the free cold draw had mild notes of spicy cedar mixed with chocolate. I always worry about wrapper damage when removing bands from the foot of a cigar, but to my surprise this one was loose enough it slipped right off with ease.

Once the cigar was burning there were flavor notes of mild chocolate, mild earth and mild oak. The medium bodied flavor mix was fine, but when I say mild that's exactly what I mean. The muted flavors never changed the entire length of the cigar.

As the cigar turned to ash it left behind a firm white ash, a razor sharp burn line and produced large volume of nutty scented smoke. The ash I mentioned before, held tight until it reached the mid point of the cigar.

Overall this was a great cigar that took 65 minutes to smoke down to a one inch nub. Also as the burn progressed, the wrapper developed a nice oily sheen and the strength built into the medium/full range. The down side, I thought the flavors were mild and they never changed from start to finish. Would I smoke the Sons of Anarchy Gordo again? You bet I would!

Rating: 91

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Fallen Angel Box-pressed Churchill

For the past few years I have been a big fan of AJ Fernandez cigars I think he blends some great tasting sticks.

Quick Details
  • Cigar Size: 7 x 48 Churchill Box-Pressed
  • Wrapper:  Sumatra Ecuadorian Oscuro: 7th cut
  • Binder: Nicaraguan
  • Filler: Nicaraguan Ligero
  • Cutting Method: Xikar guillotine
  • Paired with: Diet Pepsi -  auto drip coffee
  • Price: $7.00


Fallen Angel Cigar
Visually inspecting this cigar I found it to be well constructed. The oscuro wrapper was rolled on with near seamless care and it only contained the finest of veins. Testing the aromas from the foot I found a pleasant mix of dried fruit and tobacco. Once the end was cut the free cold draw had the same fruity sweetness with a touch of white pepper. To the hand this was a fairly light cigar, it was packed well, but not as firmly as I expected it to be but there were no spongy areas.

Once the Fallen Angel was burning the first few draws were a mild bodied mix of caramel, brown sugar, white pepper and tobacco. Into the second half of the cigar the smoke took on a dry red wine type of finish and the flavor mix turned to a combination of molasses, fruit and coffee. As the cigar finished the strength moved into the medium body range.

Burn wise the Fallen Angel was great. The slightly wavy burn produced a soft dark gray striped as that surprised me by staying put until the middle of the cigar. Smoking time for this cigar was a respectable 60 minutes.

Rated: 93

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Press Release: Cigar Federation, The Collective Cigar

Cigar Federation announces the release of it’s first cigar The Collective.

The cigar was blended by Ezra Zion Cigar Company and manufactured in the Casa Fernandez factory in Miami, Florida.

“New media has changed the cigar industry dramatically in the last few years. We feel it has started a second cigar-boom, especially in the boutique arena. We wanted to make a cigar that would pay tribute to that and The Collective project was born.” noted Kyle Hoover.

“Smoking this cigar is a completely interactive experience. By scanning the QR code on the band when you light up will allow you to smoke the cigar with us via video. You’ll hear all about how the cigar came to be, the blend, the process. It’s like we all came over to your house, raided beer from your fridge and lit up the cigar with you.” said Chris Kelly.

 The Collective is a micro-batch project and features a San Andres Cafe Claro wrapper over binder and filler of Nicaraguan. Total production is 250 boxes of 20. The Collective comes in one size, a 52x6.25 prensado box-press.

 “We pulled out all the stops when we blended this cigar. The Collective features a wrapper leaf that has never been used. We kind of invented it. We call it a San Andres Cafe Claro. Obviously, there are a lot of cigars that use San Andres, but our processing of the leaf is what makes it unique. The filler contains a substantial amount of the ultra-rare medio tiempo leaf. It’s very expensive filler leaf, but it had the flavor we wanted and took the cigar into the stratosphere.” added Hoover.

The Collective is a full bodied, medium strength cigar. Flavors include chai tea, sweet woodsy notes, dark leather, hints of anise, and an ultra-clean finish.

“When the Ezra guys sent us some samples of this blend to try out, it blew us away. When they told us they wanted to do it to highlight the new media contribution to the cigar industry, we were honored! As a reviewer, TV host, and all around cigar geek, it’s nice to have someone take the time to recognize your efforts, and with a great cigar no less.” said Rob Rasmussen, Cigar Federation co-General Manager.
“As a General Manger of Cigar Federation I can tell you that we will continue striving to innovate and not be bound by conventional ways of doing things. All of the things that make the cigar lifestyle awesome, we will continue to include in Cigar Federation. We refuse to be stereotyped. We refuse to be censored. You don’t put baby in a corner!” added Logan Lawler.

 The Collective is available exclusively on the Cigar Federation Online Cigar Store. Pre-order of The Collective will be made available to Cigar Federation members on February 10 at 3pm CST.

For more information visit Cigar Federation.

dissident SoapBox Rave

After my run of breakfast cigar reviews the last week I am excited to get going on the dissident SoapBox Rave.

Quick Details
  • Cigar Size: 5.5  x 52 Rave
  • Wrapper:  Jalapa
  • Binder: Double Esteli
  • Filler: Nicaraguan  Jalapa Esteli Congdega
  • Cutting Method: Xikar guillotine
  • Paired with: Diet Pepsi
  • Price: $8.49 Samples provided by dissident Cigars.
dissident SoapBox Rave
Right out of the cellophane I knew this would be another great stick. The seamless wrapper was nearly vein free and the cigar was tightly packed full length. I can only think of one word to describe my initial thoughts on the cold aroma coming from the foot of the SoapBox; Enticing. To the nose there was a nice mix of dried fruit, rich tobacco and a hint of oak. Once the end was clipped the same flavor mix left a lingering aftertaste on my palate.

After toasting and lighting the cigar's foot, the first flavors were white pepper, leather and brown sugar. After the few initial draws the pepper dropped off leaving a medium bodied mix of brown sugar and leather for most of the first half. Once the burn reached the mid point the flavor mix became pretty interesting and complex. For the next two inches the strength built more into the medium/full range and nearly each draw had a different flavor. The second half flavor mix consisted of oak, coffee, buttery sweet cream, white pepper, earth, brown sugar, rich tobacco and a bit of tart citrus. Like I said, I thought the mix was complex and interesting. I did test flavors from several retro hales and found mild oak and then nuts as the burn progressed.

I'm a pretty fast smoker at times and with a 70 minute burn time, this cigar is above average for it's size. As the cigar burned it created a nice plume of nutty scented  smoke and it left behind a light/dark gray semi firm ash that held on up the mid point.

The SoapBox Rave was another great cigar from dissident Cigars. It had great flavor coupled with a nice long burn time. As of right now dissident Cigars are only available from a few select retailers, but there is a list you can contact on the dissident website. If you track one of these down, I am sure you will find it worth while. I did!

Rating: 94

Sunday, February 9, 2014

#Coffee Thoughts and Questions

Cigar and Coffee Beans
It's cold out--too cold to smoke and review cigars. So consequently I am just sitting here reading and thinking; switching off between cups of diet Pepsi and auto-drip coffee.

Next week I have an appointment with the owner of cravenscoffee.com, Simon. He is giving me a tour of his roasting operation and then invited me for a cupping. OK, so this is pretty cool, I have never done an actual cupping before. @BaristaOnDutY and I have talked about cupping a bit, so to learn more I've been reading and reading and then reading more. After all this reading a few things are running through my head so I will throw a couple questions out here.

Not only do I review cigars, but in my own way I do coffee reviews too. Should I care about cupping?

I have read about the benefits and the fun, but what I care about is drinking coffee and how it tastes, either from my press or by doing a pour-over. Is this thought process wrong?

The second thing is; every blog mentions the importance of a high quality grinder. I understand this too point too, but again questions arise. I am trying to do my coffee reviews the same as I do my cigar reviews; from the perspective of the average-Joe. By trying to do things to stay within a budget. Not everyone can just throw $150 out there for a new grinder. That's like 10lbs of good coffee that can be purchased or three boxes of inexpensive, but good tasting cigars. For many people that's a years worth of supplies.

So the third question is... Should I replace my every-day-Joe blade grinder with higher quality unit or should I continue to do things the budget way?

I hope some of you weigh in on these questions.


Thanks CigarDan

Thursday, February 6, 2014

1502 Emerald Perfecto

The selection up for review today is the 1502 Emerald Perfecto and in my opinion it's another perfect breakfast time smoke. But before you go crazy asking where you can get one for yourself, the 1502 Emerald Perfecto is currently only available at 1502 lounges and this sample was provided by Global Premium Cigars.

Quick Details
  • Cigar Size: Perfecto - Box Pressed
  • Wrapper:  Corojo Habano
  • Filler: San Andres Mexico and fields from Estelí and Condega in Nicaragua
  • Cutting Method: Xikar guillotine
  • Paired with: Diet Pepsi
  • Price: Est. $7.00 - Samples provided Global Premium Cigars a member of House of Emilio


1502 Emerald Perfecto
After both ends were cut, testing the aromas from the body and foot I found a light scent of sweet toast. I found the cold draw free with notes of rich tobacco and brown sugar as the main flavors, while at the same time the wrapper left a slight sweetness on my lips. Construction wise this cigar, like all 1502 cigars, was top of the line. The Corojo Habano wrapper contained only a couple very fine veins and the wrapper was rolled on with near seamless care. Feeling the length of the body, the cigar was packed firm, but not hard, and there were no soft areas.

Once a match was put to the easy to light foot, the first flavors to hit my palate were a mild bodied blend of coffee and spicy cedar. As the burn progressed other flavors in this complex cigar came and went. I found oak, leather, brown sugar, cedar, earth, molasses, black pepper, sweet cream and more coffee. Around the mid point there were a couple draws of medium black pepper, but they quickly went away and never came back. The most memorable portion of the cigar was its finish. About half way through the band area is where the sweet cream and coffee hit their peak. The medium body finish was tasty enough that I smoked the Emerald to a half inch nub. After the cigar was done the coffee and cream left a long lingering sweet aftertaste.

The 1502 Emerald Perfecto also had a fantastic burn. As the burn progressed it left behind a soft looking light gray ash that held on until the mid point of the cigar. I was messing around and bumped the cigar which caused the ash to fall. I really think it would have held until the band had that not happened. An oil line also developed on the wrapper as the cool smoking cigar turned to ash.

Overall I thought the 1502 Emerald Perfecto was a fantastic cigar. The complexity of the flavor mix actually took me by surprise and the coffee with cream finish was superb! Hopefully this review shows the consistent quality that goes in to each cigar they produce.

Total: 95

To read the full review and others visit CheapAshCigar.com

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Romeo y Julieta RyJ

Well this Romeo y Julieta RyJ is a Nica Puro that I can take off the to-smoke-list for this year. I picked this up at Cigar Train a couple of weeks ago and boy I'm glad I did.

Quick Details
  • Wrapper:  Nicaraguan Corojo Jalapa
  • Double Binder: Nicaraguan Jalapa & Esteli
  • Vintage 2010 Aged Fillers: Nicaraguan Jalapa, Nicaraguan Esteli, Nicaraguan La Mia
  • Cutting Method: Xikar guillotine
  • Purchased at Cigar Train

In the beginning I had a bit of trouble with the RyJ, not with the cigar itself but with the flavors. The cold aroma baffled me for quite a while. The best I can do is say it had notes of fruit and tea, maybe even muted orange spice tea. What ever it was, the aroma from the foot was nice. Once the end was clipped, the firm, but free, cold draw had strong notes of sweet tree fruit.

Construction wise this cigar was just what you would expect from Romeo y Julieta. The oily Corojo Jalapa wrapper was rolled on with a tight seam and was virtually vein free. Feeling down the body there were no soft or hard spots present.

Once a match was put to the foot, the mild bodied cigar produced a large volume of smoke and the initial flavors again were sweet fruit and tea. As the burn progressed it left behind a soft light gray ash and a nice oil line developed on the wrapper. For the first half the burn line took off up one side but by the mid point it self-corrected. Sadly I dropped the RyJ in the ashtray while putting my gloves on and bumped the ash about an inch into the burn.

Around the 1/3 mark more flavors entered into the mix. I could taste, oak, earth, brown sugar, toast, nuts and molasses as the cigar turned to ash. Testing the retro hale I found it to be a nice mild dose of molasses.  In the final third the strength bumped up into the medium range and a bit of barnyard took over as the main flavor.

This was another cigar that actually paired better with coffee and I think it's a great around breakfast cigar. The flavor mix wasn't complex, but the all flavors present were great. I don't call many non-maduro cigars a flavor bomb, but this was pretty darn close! Like I said in the opening paragraph, I wish I had picked up more the other day.

Rated: 94


Bean Box Coffee Subscription

Monday, February 3, 2014

Saint Luis Rey Gen2 Robusto


Quick Details
  • Cigar Size: 4.5  x 54 Robusto
  • Wrapper:  Ecuadorian Sumatra - high priming
  • Filler: 3 year aged Honduran and Nicaraguan
  • Cutting Method: Vertigo guillotine
  • Paired with: Diet Pepsi & Coffee
  • Price: $6.99 purchased at Cigar Train
Outward appearance of  this cigar, from the double band to the seamless wrapper, was top of the line. The smooth, seamless wrapper contained only one fine vein and the cigar was packed tight, but not to tight full length. Testing for aromas I found sweet fruit and oak from the foot and the free cold draw had the same flavor mix.

Once the cigar was toasted and burning the first few mild bodied draws had the same fruity oak flavor mix. The sharp burn left behind a tight light gray ash the fell right at the 1/3 mark, but a nice oil line was forming on the wrapper. As the burn progressed to the middle and into the final third a few more flavors slowly developed. I could taste nuts, leather, toast and sweet cream as I finished the cigar. I wouldn't call the flavor mix of the Gen2 complex, but it was tasty! Body wise I don't thing it ever built above medium in strength and it would make a great breakfast cigar.

I paired this Saint Luis Rey Gen2 with my normal drinks, but I think it paired better with coffee than it did the diet Pepsi. I will be smoking more of these as morning cigars.


Rating: 93

Henry Clay Corona


Quick Details
  • Cigar Size: 5.5  x 42 Corona
  • Wrapper:  Connecticut Broad-leaf
  • Binder: Dominican
  • Filler: Dominican
  • Cutting Method: Vertigo guillotine
  • Paired with: Diet Pepsi
  • Price: $5.99 purchased at Cigar Train

Henry Clay Corona Cigar
Looking at the overall appearance this Henry Clay corona is a bit rough looking. These cigars are bundled with double bands, mazo style, then it appears stuffed into their box. This method causes a bit of distortion to some of the cigars. The stick I grabbed actually had a trapezoid shaped body.

Construction of the cigar overall I would have to call "stout". The stout Connecticut broad-leaf wrapper was thick and hearty with bold veins for the vitola. Feeling down the body the cigar was packed firmly full length and it had a nice amount of tooth. Checking aromas, the foot had notes of cocoa and tobacco while the free cold draw had notes of nuts and cedar. Putting a flame to the foot it was quickly toasted and lit.

For a budget cigar the Henry Clay corona has a fair flavor mix of cocoa, spice and earth for the first half. A bit of walnut jumped into the flavor mix around the mid point and it finished with some sweet cream, leather and molasses in the second half. The retro hale had notes of smooth, rich tobacco. I was a bit disappointed that the Connecticut broad-leaf wrapper never did leave much flavor on my lips and the smoke felt dry to my mouth.

The burn produced a razor sharp burn line and a firm looking white ash that held on nearly to the middle.

Overall this cigar looked rough, but smoked well with a great burn and pretty straight forward flavor mix.

If you happen upon one, give it a try.

Total: 89