Let's Drink: Groundwork Black Gold

Let's Drink is an ongoing series by Mallory Smith exploring and reviewing ethically sourced coffees.


Now that we love Groundwork for the company’s admirable transparency and quarter-century commitment to socially conscious business practices, let’s start drinking coffee.

The first roast we sampled was Groundwork’s signature dark roast blend: Black Gold. Promising to be bold, rich, and buttery, the company’s website also claims that Black Gold is its most popular blend. Judging by online Yelp reviews and honorable mentions, I was almost wholly convinced even before trying the coffee myself.

I gathered a small party of tasters. My friend brewed the coffee. We read the Sunday Times and waited. The smell of coffee made the morning feel authentic.

A couple sips in and it was confirmed. Black Gold is a unanimous crowd favorite. It tasted as promised: rich, bold, buttery. The chocolate brownie richness was tempered in its sweetness by what we referred to as, in technical terms, a “roasty” flavor. It is not uncommon for a coffee as rich and dark as this to taste flat and dull; Black Gold, however, did not. It finished smooth, but with surprising acidity that made the coffee taste, not acidic, but alive and animated.

While smooth and delicious, Black Gold had a brazen presence. This is a hair-on-your-chest coffee for the bon vivant, a coffee drinker’s coffee. Being a light roast girl, it was a little weighty for my personal palate. And then…we added cream.

You know how sometimes you start pouring cream in your coffee and by the time the stream hits the cup, the coffee turns instantly a watery smokey white? Or how, other times, a sea of cream hardly makes the coffee turn color it all? Black Gold was neither of these; observing the Goldilocks principle, it was just right. Yes, yes, these cream problems mostly relate to not brewing to the proper strength (too weak or too strong), but it still should be noted that Black Gold held cream perfectly. Its boldness, poised and ready, embraced dairy like the yang to its yin. And I was a happy drinker.

Whether you’re the dark as night type, relishing in coffee’s independently bold structure, or the spiritual type, lauding the interconnectedness between the coffee-cream forces, you will certainly be pleased by a rich, balanced, daring cup of Black Gold.