Can you remember the first time you tasted a speciality coffee? That naturally sweet, smooth coffee that that tasted better than you ever thought coffee could? We can remember it vividly, and that is what first got us into the amazing and friendly coffee industry. We wanted our coffee to be like that.
Right from the start we wanted to ethically source our beans from farmers who cared about the quality of what they were growing, roast those beans with the same love and attention as the famers, and then make the final drink as good as it deserves to be for our customers…the final link in a long journey from farm to coffee shop.
Developing our espresso blends
Developing a good espresso blend is more difficult than you may think. It is much more than throwing two lots of different beans into the roaster and hoping for the best. Do we go for a blend of two, three or four different beans? How dark do we roast the beans? Will the flavours compliment each other? Do we have equal amounts of each bean varietal in the blend or will it taste better with more of one particular bean?
A good espresso blend will taste good as a black coffee (Long Black / Americano), as an espresso, and with the various amounts of milk that will be added to it. Quite a task you may think. And you would be right. We are constantly tasting and adjusting until we are confident that a blend works for all drinks.
Roast coffee too dark and you get that burnt, ashy, bitter taste which is never a good sign. Roast too light and the coffee may not be able to punch through the milk. Although light roasted coffees are great as filter, giving that lovely acidity you want when drinking a black filter coffee, they can often lack that punch you need for espresso based drinks.
When we roast for an espresso blend we aim for that lovely natural sweetness from the beans but also allow for the bean’s natural flavours to shine through too. It is a delicate balance.
Roasting for filter
Coffee for filter is different to an espresso coffee in that filter coffee is usually either drunk black or with just a small amount of milk or cream added. This means that the beans can be roasted lighter to give a pleasant, refreshing acidity and enhance the natural flavours of the coffee which won’t be smothered by the addition of lots of steamed milk.
Sourcing our coffee
This is one of the most important aspects of the coffee business for us, if not THE most important. Being able to trace the coffee beans we purchase right back to the farmer and even the field the beans were grown in is our aim. We also keen to know that the famer has been paid a good price for producing his high quality, speciality beans. If he has, then we know that he will keep wanting to improve his product. We also want to know that the farmer manages his farm in a way that is environmentally friendly, treats his workers with respect as well as paying them a fair wage in return for what is often a back breaking job.
Although Fairtrade and various similar associations are a good thing, the money paid to the farmers under their mantra is often only a fraction above the minimum market price on the ICE. By encouraging farmers to grow speciality coffee, the speciality coffee industry know they get a far healthier return which enables them to provide better wages and conditions for their employees. They are also much more likely to produce a superior product.
Traceability and sustainability are very important to us.
You can read more about how we source our coffee at Sourcing our coffee. (LINK TO PAGE)
The speciality coffee industry is a great thing to be part of and the relationships that are built within it are something very special. People are often helping each other out and there is so much encouragement which we still find amazing after all these years.
However, it is the relationships with farmers and importers which are the bedrock of our industry. Without farmers who want to produce a great product we would be able to drink the amazing coffee that we do. Everyone needs to be able to make a living out of coffee so we all need to work together to ensure this happens.
Food and drink has to look good to make us want to buy it and eat and drink it. This is especially the case regarding coffee these days.
When you buy a bag of coffee it should be in an attractive bag which is sealed, has the roasting date on it and the relevant information about the coffee inside so you can make an informed decision.
When you buy a coffee at your local coffee shop you want the coffee to look good and taste good. You need to be able to trust the barista to steam the milk correctly and to the right temperature and to also be able to extract the right amount of coffee over the right amount of time. Not as easy as it sounds. A good barista will have been properly trained to know how to do all of these things but he or she will also need to understand people. People skills are just as important as coffee making skills. Remembering a customer’s drink without them saying a word will often make their day and they will keep coming back.
We believe that roasting coffee well is an art. An art that takes a lot of practice and experience to perfect. Every coffee bean is different. There are lots of variables we need to be mindful of with every roast. For instance:
- How humid is it?
- Is it windy?
- What is the temperature outside?
- Is it raining?
The weather can make a huge difference to how each coffee roasts.
As an artisan roaster, we want to be in complete control of our roasting machine. We can then make adjustments as necessary throughout the roasting process; tweaking the burner or the airflow to get the perfect roast. We record all of our roasts on special software but the roast remains under our complete control.
Some roasters, especially the larger ones use a computer programme to control the roast but this assumes that beans and conditions always exactly the same, which they very rarely are. There is no substitute for manually controlling the roasting process.
Once we have developed the profile for a particular coffee we aim for consistency with every batch of beans we roast. Same development time, dropping the beans at the same temperature and the same profile for each batch of that bean, allowing for all of the variables so that the taste you get in the cup this week is same you got last week.
It goes without saying that coffee needs to be fresh. This goes for green coffee beans before roasting as well as coffee that has been roasted.
Unfortunately some roasters will happily roast green beans which are more than 12 months or even 18 months old. In our opinion this definitely isn’t conducive to roasting great coffee. We always use green beans from the latest harvests and beans are stored in a specially temperature controlled warehouse prior to delivery to our roastery.
Freshness also means buying recently roasted coffee. We always send out coffee to you that has been freshly roasted. Our coffee will always have a roasted date on the front of the bag. However, coffee does need a few days resting before using, ideally 4 to 6 days. Coffee has high levels of carbon dioxide and other gases fresh off the roast. The most apparent flavour you get from this is “metallic”.
Resting the coffee for a few days enables these flavours to disappear and the more pleasant ones to develop fully. This explains why the taste of a coffee roasted two days ago will taste completely different to one that has been rested for 5 or 6 days.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]