Although Compass Coffee Roasting wasn't in the "Favorites" nomination list, I asked Compass Coffee if he'd sponsor a review of his two espresso blends. He's a long-time member and made the transition from amateur to commercial roaster with three cafes; I thought it would be an interesting intermission between the previously announced nominees to include a relative unknown.
Handlebar is a "big latte" type blend. To balance out the heavy bass notes, latte lovers will want 8 ounces of milk or more. While that may sound like a big drink, the fact is that many U.S. cafes are serving large milk drinks—some as large as 12 to 20 (!) ounces. To counterbalance the plenitude of milk flavor, Handlebar offers light cocoa, tobacco/leather, and a lot of roast notes. These types of latte blends are rising with the popularity of high-volume drinks; they blend medium and dark roast that can "punch" through milk. When tempered with a goodly dose of milk, Handlebar's cocoa and coffee flavor are still readily apparent and a tinge of ash finish is just barely noticeable. Latte lovers who want a really forgiving blend will be all over Handlebar; those who drink straight espresso will find it undrinkable.
Delirium reminds me of the old-school blends dominated by chocolate and nuts that blanketed the market years ago in the U.S. It's low acidity, pulls evenly and easily, and exhibits beginner-friendly temperature tolerance. It's a solid bar blend that works well straight and with small to medium-ish milk drinks (3 to 4 ounces). I adhered to the recommended brew parameters and found they worked very well (~200°F, 19 grams yielding 26 gram beverage in approx. 27 seconds).
Below are the official descriptions from the Compass Coffee Roasting website:
Handlebar Espresso Blend wrote:A bold, thick bodied attack up front gives way to a creamy spiced cocoa and dark berry finish.
Delirium Espresso Blend wrote:A dynamic cup; both deep and pleasantly bright. Smooth cream balanced with chocolate and complex fruit, with just a touch of spice and citrus. Crafted from the major coffee growing regions, each element is roasted individually, then blended together after roasting. This method allows each bean to showcase its unique qualities without sacrificing another's. Built for espresso, but great non-espresso brewed as well.