Enjoying coffee is one of our favorite pastimes here at Caffeinated Lifestyle, and we also love to support local businesses. So what happens when you combine both of these things? You get our first review of Chicagoland-area local company Two Brothers Brewing Company and their caffeinated offspring, Two Brothers Coffee Roasters!
Having started as a microbrewery in 1996 they’re known for a great selection of craft beer and dedication to being an independent company serving the Chicagoland area and beyond. They began with the brewery and tap house in Warrenville, IL and they have since expanded to several other locations including The Craftsman in Naperville, The Roundhouse in Aurora, and a tap house and brewery in Scottsdale, AZ that serves its own craft beer recipes.
Since we are a gluten-free household I’m happy to let everyone know that the menu options at each location we have visited have gluten free adjustments available for many of their food options. There is even a gluten free craft beer in house called Prarie Path! Truly a great fit for our household’s gluten-free dietary restriction, and we appreciate their effort in disclosing ingredient information and their willingness to accommodate requests so gracefully.
While the Craft Brewery goodness has been chugging along since 1996, there’s also a relatively new member of the Two Brothers family; Two Brothers Coffee Roasters. This branch of the company started up in 2012 in the hope that they could bring their level of quality and craftsmanship with beer to a whole new spectrum of beverages.. And like everything else Two Brothers works with, they emphasize sustainable and fair relationships when sourcing out their coffee.
In an interview from 2012 Jason Ebel, one of the co-founders of Two Brothers, said “I probably drink 12 cups of coffee a day” when speaking with the Chicago Tribune about starting up the coffee roasting business. We say that’s a great quality to have when becoming a coffee roaster and having a passion for the coffee bean. While I, David, didn’t get to meet with either co-founder personally when on a tour of the Warrenville, IL brewery, it was awesome to see everything behind the scenes at one of my favorite brewing companies (Including a small glimpse at the roasting hut from afar).
They put out a lot of great coffee at Two Brothers; there are some we have tried and some we haven’t. Let's discuss some of the options we have Not tried yet, but are actively looking into getting our hands on.
FYI: We contacted Two Brothers directly and they let us know that ALL their coffee, ground and k-cups, are gluten free.
Two Brothers Coffee Roasters currently puts out two waves of seasonal blends throughout the year.
October - March
April - September
They also have exclusive Limited Seasonal Collections, and you have to get those small batches while they last. Check out their Limited Seasonal Collection page to see what they have in the works and give it a shot. This limited seasonal collection rotates and changes much faster than the 2 seasonal waves, so it's always neat to see what they're concocting next.
During our last visit to the Warrenville location for lunch and a tour, we were greeted with a sign for Cold Brew coffee. This was a bit of a surprise discovery and I just had to dive into a cup of it. To say the least, my only regret was purchasing a cup to-go at the end of our trip rather than at the beginning.
The cold brew at Two Brothers is brewed in house in large batches and they have it for sale out of their tap room location in large three-liter jugs. Those jugs are why I wish I had NOT waited on trying Maelstrom, as we were already in the car on the way home before I tasted how good it was. I could easily see myself walking out of there with a full jug, and plan on doing so after our inevitable next visit. It is just too good to pass up.
Honestly, this is the most delicious and strongest cold brew I’ve ever tasted. I typically don’t get affected by caffeine and can shake off several cups of coffee without much of an afterthought. Maelstrom on the other hand gave me a caffeine kick I haven’t felt in a long time. The smooth and rich texture of the cold brew is combined with a bold coffee flavor without any bitterness, and the energy buzz I felt kept me going for hours.
Comparing this to something like a Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts cold brew offering, which are incredibly bitter and intentionally watered-down, Maelstrom is a smooth and rich cold brew that blows away every other I’ve tasted. It doesn't need any creamer or sugar because the bold coffee flavor ultimately finishes with an amazing mouth feel.
In addition to the rotating roasts, there are some flagship offerings that are provided year-round. Their Medium Roast and Dark Roast coffees, are available in both Coffee pod form as well as bagged. Since we only own the Keurig brewer, it's nice to have the K-Cup option available which isn't always the case with smaller roasters.
Before getting into the two choices of coffee k-cup pods we need to showcase the difference between Two Brothers' pod and filter choice, versus traditional K-Cup pods.
Rather than having a serving of coffee in a filter, held in an outer plastic-shell; Two Brothers coffee pods are a micro-filter exposed directly to the air. It is because of this that it's necessary to have a traditional coffee bag that contains the K-Cups to preserve the quality. The bag they provide has a CO2 escape valve and is resealable, so there isn't any noticeable inconvenience to maintain the quality of the stored coffee.
I'm going to let you know now, that the experience of brewing a cup of Two Brothers in the Keurig is unlike any other pre-packaged coffee pod. Because the microfilter that holds in the ground coffee is exposed to the air unlike traditional coffee pods, when you open up the sealed packaging, you are greeted with a beautiful aroma that no other coffee pod provides.
The smell of raw ground coffee before brewing is something that I didn't realize how much I missed until now. The K-Cup and filter also saturate the grounds VERY well, and doesn't let any residue out, which you can see in the picture of the K-Cup above.
After the initial smells intoxicate you, which is mostly a sweet floral and coffee combination, the brewing process leads to some equally lovely flavors that go down smooth.
There is a medium coffee flavor that is accompanied by a floral note that lifts off of your tongue with each sip as a result of the stone fruit in the roasting process. Walnut, something I haven't ever had in a coffee roast before, is also noticeable and pairs nicely with the rest of the flavors in the Brewhouse Blend. Being a low-carb lifestyle follower as well, I'm very fond of walnuts as a snack and this coffee has a defined walnut flavor I find enjoyable.
This Brewhouse Blend is a lot of firsts for me to experience. The fruitiness and floral tones, along with the walnut, seemed like surprising additions when I read the description of this coffee, but it makes perfect sense now as it compliments to a coffee roast nicely.
The only description of the flavors from the box that I don't really sense, is the hint of caramel. It could be hiding and complementing the other flavors, or be what causes the slight sweetness, but there's nothing necessarily caramel-y that stands out.
Overall I rate this very highly as a medium-roast choice. If I didn't feel the compulsion to try new coffees so often, I could definitely see this being my daily go-to.
The tagline of the Brewhouse Dark reads "A smoky, earthy, take-no-prisoners coffee that still finds room to offer plenty of sweetness." The aroma as it hits your nose when you open up the box of pods is a little less sweet smelling than the Brewhouse Blend Medium Roast. That makes sense being a darker roast and not having the levels of stonefruit of its medium-roasted relative.
Brewing this coffee pod in the Keurig results in a pleasant coffee smell throughout our kitchen. It's not overpowering, and similar in intensity to other dark-roast coffee we've tried which all seem to be a little more muted in the smell-category.
Flavor-wise it's true to the dark roast classification. It's a dark cup of coffee that looks more intimidating than it is. It results in an even coffee taste with an inviting sweetness, and a slight smoke flavor as an after-taste with absolutely no bitterness. Kellie, who is notorious for requiring cream in all of her coffee, doesn't need anything of the sort for this one because the flavor stands up on its own for everyone's palate.
As we start branching out to independent roasters more, we're finding they have coffee leaps and bounds ahead of the mass-produced coffees we've tried in the past up to this point. Two Brothers meets that expectation of quality and then some.
All too often I find that a dark roast will be bitter beyond enjoyment or taste and smell burnt, but this roast is near perfection. The mix of sweet and subtle-smokiness in this coffee make it one of my favorite dark roasts to date. I'm not afraid of a bitter coffee, but a true dark roast like this that provides all of the flavor without the bitterness takes the cake. Overall this is a great dark roast coffee offering sure to please many caffeine fixes.
All coffee can be found and purchased at www.twobrotherscoffeeroasters.com for both wholesale and home delivery. There are also a handful of selections available on Amazon such as the Single Serve Coffee Pods and individual 12oz bags of coffee. I definitely recommend checking them out and buying a bag while enjoying the tap house, or if you're not living around Chicago picking up one of the online offerings.
If you’re looking for a great night out, or tour of a fantastic Chicagoland-area brewery, check out Two Brothers Brewing Company and pick any location. You’re going to get great food, welcoming atmosphere, and of course amazing coffee and beer alike. Heck if we ever find ourselves out in Scottsdale, AZ we'll need to wander over and see that location too.
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