Kilimanjaro Coffee Review – Hyman Smith Coffee – Syracuse, New York

kilimanjaro coffee review hyman smith coffee syracuse, new york

Hyman Smith Coffee is a family run business that has been roasting coffee since the Erie Canal flowed through the middle of downtown Syracuse over 120-years ago.

The roaster is now located on the street that once was the Erie Canal, the original late 1800's shop was a couple blocks south of the canal.

I wonder if they sold their coffee to patrons riding on the canal boats and the canal men that pulled freight through central New York State?

Hyman Smith Kilimanjaro

To this day, Hyman Smith Coffee is still fresh roasting coffee almost every day. Their Kilimanjaro coffee is dark roasted, and as you can see, there is a sheen of oil on the surface of the beans.

Hyman smith Kilimanjaro coffee beans

Coffee made from these beans tastes as rich as the beans look.

The coffee has a very fruity aroma that’s transferred into the brewed coffee itself. Surprisingly, I didn’t detect any cocoa or chocolate notes at all in the brew.

I won’t lie, this coffee took me a while to dial-in and is a little dark for my tastes. But with some testing and using the right brewing equipment it’s not a bad coffee.

If you’re a fan of the Moka pot, this is a great coffee to use, add some warm foamed milk to the brew and you have a Caffe Breve-like drink without using an expensive espresso machine.

What I like about Hyman Smith coffee is you can watch the roaster process the beans almost every day! The roasting machine is right behind the counter in a building addition that almost juts into Erie Boulevard (former Erie Canal).

Hyman Smith coffee store

Kilimanjaro Coffee Review

I ordered this Kilimanjaro coffee directly from Hyman Smith during a semi-annual $5-off promotion. You place an order, and they roast the coffee on the Monday and Tuesday before you pick it up mid-week.

During this sale, I picked up half-pounds of four different varieties (yep, more reviews coming).

The coffee beans are roasted a dark rich brown color with oil on the surface. And they are quite hard but not very dense.

The coffee smelled great the minute I opened the bag and got even better when ground. The aroma is fruity with berry-like notes.

For the first cup, I ground the coffee in a Porlex hand grinder at the fifth setting and brewed the coffee in a Hario V60 at a 16:1 ratio. The coffee was allowed to bloom for 30-seconds, and then I added the remaining water in a slow, steady pour.

The berry-like aroma carried through into the coffee, but for me, the coffee was too strong, and it had a very bitter aftertaste.

I adjusted the brew twice, first by increasing the grind size to 7 and then I changed the water to coffee ratio to 17:1. The coffee continued to have a slightly bitter aftertaste. This Kilimanjaro coffee did not suit my tastes brewed in a Hario V60.

Other Brewing Methods

After some testing with the French Press, I settled on a coarse grind (using an electric grinder) and an 18.5:1 ratio. 

The coffee still had balance and wasn’t too weak even with the reduced ratio. The fruity flavors and berry notes became more subtle, but the bitterness decreased to an acceptable level.

The coffee isn’t overly complex. The tasting notes remain the same throughout the cup, the flavor, in my opinion, becomes more balanced as it cools. But make sure you finish the cup before it reaches room temperature as the flavor declines when cold.

If you don’t like some distinct bitterness in your coffee, this Kilimanjaro is not for you.

I also brewed the coffee in an auto-drip maker using a paper filter. The final ratio was 22:1 and the brew still had a strong flavor with good body and the bitterness was much less pronounced than with the other two brewing methods.

The fruity notes were muted using the auto-drip, though. It was a choice between losing some of the flavors but having less bitterness in the aftertaste.

I think I could dial-in this Kilimanjaro coffee a little better with more tries, but with only a half-pound to work with it’s the best I could do.

What Did Work

The Kilimanjaro did make an excellent faux Cafe’ Breve. Faux in that a Breve recipe uses espresso, but the Moka pot is an inexpensive alternative piece of equipment to make tasty coffee and milk mixtures.

Using 21-grams of Kilimanjaro coffee ground with the Porlex grinder adjusted to the 5th setting made a strong, rich, dark coffee that when mixed with warm foamed milk tasted great.

Of all the methods I used, the Moka pot was my favorite.  Followed by the auto-drip.

This Kilimanjaro coffee is for those that like bold flavors.

Bean & Roasting Info

  • Roast Level: Dark
  • Producers: Unknown
  • Country of Origin: Tanzania
  • Region: Northern
  • Variety: Arabica
  • Processing Method: Unknown
  • Growing Altitude: Unknown
  • Roaster Tasting Notes: Deep rich body and sweet acidity.

Review & Summary of Hyman Smith’s Kilimanjaro Coffee

The aroma of this coffee is very pleasant, and the fruity berry-like aroma carries over into the coffee itself.

The coffee has good bold flavors that increase as the cup cools, though not very complex as it is more of a one-note coffee, the fruity notes remain until the end.

If you like a dark, rich coffee and don’t mind a slightly bitter aftertaste, this Kilimanjaro coffee is for you.

Add a touch of sugar or milk and you have great tasting coffee from Hyman Smith.

I found that you could use less coffee and play with the grind size to dial-in the coffee to your taste. This is a good thing, right?

Who doesn’t want to use a little less coffee, still get good rich flavors, and save some money? Probably, everyone, that doesn’t sell coffee for a living.

In the end, I recommend using the auto-drip maker for multiple cups of coffee or switch over to a Moka pot and add some foamed milk and maybe some chocolate sauce for a Mocha.

When Hyman Smith has another coffee sale, I will buy more of this Kilimanjaro coffee and see if I can improve on what I have done here.

You can order this Kilimanjaro coffee, as well as other varieties and blends on-line at Hyman Smith Coffee by clicking on the button below.


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