Welcome to November. Time flows, seasons change and so do coffees in our seasonal collection. As a coffee lover, we are certain, you know how important it is for your coffee to be fresh. As your roasters, we take this very issue of freshness one step further and make sure that our green coffees always run out before their time is up.
As Autumn fully sets in, we are beginning to look forward to the arrival of new season Brazils and Perus. We have been out of one of our customers' favourites, Nossa Senhora de Fatima from Cerrado, Brazil for a while now, but its place on the darker side of the roasting spectrum has been given to Kaffa Forest Estate from Limu, Ethiopia. Just like Nossa Senhora, Kaffa Forest stands to the roast incredibly well, allowing us to develop its delicious chocolate body while preserving its wonderful high notes of apricots and wild forest berries that are normally found in its lighter roasted high grown Ethiopian brethren.
As the seasons roll, we have started receiving new coffees from South East Asia and the Pacific region. We have recently introduced our new find from Papua New Guinea, Purosa. This coffee is grown by some 2,600 smallholder producers from Highlands Organic Agriculture Cooperative in the Purosa region of Eastern Highlands in the country. Developed to a solid medium roast, Purosa opens up as a wonderful combination of tropical fruit and oriental spices residing on a full body of its bakers chocolate base.
For those of you who prefer a more delicate roast, we have just introduced Ethiopian Sidamo Kilenso Mokonisa that is replacing our customers' old favourite Yirgacheffe Negele Gurbitu (we roasted the last batch a few days ago). With its clean and sweet notes combining milk chocolate and subtle floral notes it is a classical Sidamo taste profile that is easy on the palate any time of the day.
This is all the news for now, but as Christmas is approaching, we are working hard on a few exciting additions to our coffee offering, so keep an eye on this space. In any event, you will hear from us soon, in the mean time, we hope that you are keeping well and staying adequately caffeinated using only the purest and the most delicious beans.
With best wishes,
Beanberry Coffee Co.
Dangle legs over bed,
find floor, find door,
round the corner, down the stairs,
coffee beckons in my head ...
grinder on, beans done.
Pot next, hot water flows,
Yirgacheffe aroma grows.
like a hug, warm embrace of coffee love,
trickles down in my tum,
cherry notes and chocolate rum!
Cheer up girl, time to whirl!
Yirgacheffe, a good job done!
Thank you Stephanie G for this review of Yirgacheffe - Negele Gurbitu. Love it!
It is hard to believe it, but it has been almost a year since our last post.
Well, we will not be announcing any Great Tastes awards this year as we have managed to miss this year's application deadline back in spring. It is a bit of a nuisance, as we were very keen to get our lovely organics tried out by the Great Taste judges, but, we (and actually it was just me alone at the time) were in the middle of upgrading our roasting capacity and at the same time scrambling to keep up with the ever increasing order volume on our old tiny 2.5 kg roaster. However sad it is to be left out of competition, it is great to feel that as the very least, having doubled out roaster count and increased our capacity five-fold, we are now a lot more efficient and flexible and we can now service our wonderful customers much better and faster.
Our summer offering is now in its full swing with the coffee portfolio being dominated by some of our old (and new) favourites from Central America and East Africa. Central American coffees are currently represented by Honduras Iris Esperanza, a tiny microlot of 10 bags grown by Iris Esperanza Lopez on her tiny Finca El Hichozal in Las Capucas area in Honduras and Guatemala Finca San Antonio, grown by our friend Tono Pullin, that we originally introduced to our portfolio in the summer of 2012. East Africans are currently represented by Ethiopian Yirgacheffe from Negele Gurbitu cooperative and our special reserve Amaro Gayo (natural process) from Anakesh Thomas's Amaro Gayo mill.
In the true spirit of summer, our customers' old favourite, 8AM Blues, is back. This season, we sought to combine body and high notes of Ethiopian Limu from Kaffa Forest Estate with chocolatey and stone fruit flavours of Iris Esperanza's micro-lot from Finca El Hichozal in Las Capucas area of Honduras. Crafted for filter brewing and roasted medium-dark, this blend has bright yet solid presence. Originally conceived as a punchy morning cup, it is mannered well enough to be enjoyed thoroughly after dinner.. or pretty much any time throughout the day.
Not a bad result, considering this was our first entry ever. We are particularly happy with the 2-star rating achieved by our Kaffa Forest, which puts this coffee in the group of 13 best scoring coffees in its category in 2013!
It is very admirable that the fairtrade movement has an incredibly strong following in the UK and it is equally surprising that in this country very few people actually appreciate that the guiding principles of organic farming reach far beyond the very important principle of sustainability and embrace firmly the principles of fairness and social justice.
Organic standards across the globe are aligned with and regulated by the key principles of International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (“IFOAM”). The third of IFOAM’s ‘Principles of Organic Agriculture’ is the principle of fairness. In accordance with this principle:
It is not surprising that organic certification goes hand in hand with fairtrade certification in the majority of cases of small farmers’ organisations such as growers’ cooperatives. In effect, compliance with organic standards effectively insures compliance with fairtrade standards and turns the process of obtaining a fairtrade certification into a technicality. All of the cooperative organic coffees that we have offered to date, have been fairtrade certified at origin.Coffees that come from a single coffee farm or estate tend not to be covered by fairtrade standards in the same way as small farmers’ organisations are and therefore the fairness and social justice are guided mostly by the organic principles as devised by IFOAM. Finally, as we are dealing with decommoditised speciality grade coffees only, the single estates and farms that grow our coffees are paid international premium prices for their produce as they tend to sell directly to international specialist green coffee buyers and roasting organisations.
The Chacon family have been growing coffee high on the slopes of the Poas Volcano in Costa Rica’s Central Valley for three generations. Finca Las Lajas, their beautiful organic farm is well protected from the all-consuming midday sun by the shade of the Flame Trees that tease your eye with their blaze of floral orange.
Oscar Chacon and his wife Francisa, who run the farm, faced their difficult yet defining moment in 1995, when Oscar’s father died of cancer. Deeply suspicious that various agrichemicals stored below the living quarters and widely used on the farm at the time were responsible for Mr Chacon’s cancer, Oscar and Francisca responded by banning the use of such chemicals from Las Lajas. Transitioning to eco-friendly and sustainable organic practices was the only way forward and it took five years to rehabilitate the soil and change around the whole complex and intertwined system of agricultural practices. In 2000, Finca Las Lajas became the first coffee estate in Costa Rica to be certified organic.
Since then, Francisca who has taken charge of processing the organic Caturra and Catuai coffees, through her own curiosity, creativity and entrepreneurship has developed what can truly be described as unique hand-crafted, artisan coffees. With a systematic use of a Brix sugar-meter and through rigorous experimentation she crafted the drying processes that bring about different levels and types of sweetness in the coffee while it dries in its mucilage on raised African style beds.
This work gave birth to now famous ‘Red Honey’ coffee that is ripe melon super-sweet with a big mouth feel and the farm’s most famous product, the ‘Black Pearl’ or ‘Perla Negra’. Perla Negra is a natural processed dried-in-the-fruit coffee, processed using the most complex of Francisca’s profiles. The hand-picked cherries are first carefully sundried on raised beds then further dried under a black shroud to create warmth that serves as a catalyst to develop even more natural sugars. The cherries turn black and emanate a heady aroma akin to that of a Christmas cake mixture with its rich fruits, soft brown sugar and a splash of fine sherry. The final product is an organic coffee of true distinction that is sweet, syrupy and dominant with the bouquet of ripe fruit flavours.
To us, Oscar and Fransica's determination, that led to these spectacular results, is a shining example of what can be achieved when creative souls, warm hearts and calculating minds work together to give us a spectacular coffee that is better for us, better for the Earth and better for those who grow it.
We are introducing Bolinda Primavera. This new crop Bolivian coffee is all about balance. As a fellow roaster commented at one of the cupping events: "Hard to pin it, it is just a great coffee".
Sweet, mellow, medium bodied, with mild accidity and a lingering cane sugar aftertaste, this coffee is just what you need when you do not want to think hard about what your coffee tastes like and simply want to enjoy a refreshing balanced cup of coffee. Roasted light-medium.
Extract from Surrey's Coffee Heroes by Catherine Whyte of Surrey Downs Magazine:
It’s a truism for sure: once you’ve discovered the difference between a good cup of coffee and a bad one, you’ll never look back. In fact, you’ll find yourself going out of your way to seek out that perfect cup.
It’s also true that, once you begin to look into the coffee world in more depth, you realize how much more there is to know. For some, it’s the start of a journey that leads them to set up their own coffee houses or roasteries.
Happily for Surrey coffee lovers, there are an increasing number of cafes passionate about serving that perfectly brewed cup. We even have some local roasteries too: it’s really worth buying freshly roasted ground coffee (or beans) from these smaller artisan businesses. You’ll get a much fresher, tastier product.
All in all, it’s a wonderful world to discover.
Coffee aficionados – and I include all the businesses listed here – know that it is single estate filter coffees, rather than espresso blends, that are the most prized in terms of purity of taste. That awareness is beginning to seep into the public consciousness and onto the high street too. Mark my words, you’ll begin to see a lot more of them. The advantage, of course, is that you can enjoy the particular flavour notes from that one berry and region – which are distinct unto themselves. The comparisons with terroir in wine are obvious.
Pinnock’s, over in Ripley, has the UK’s first drip coffee bar. Inspired by Philz, a very famous coffee house in San Francisco, Russell and partner Andy ditched their previous (coffee-unrelated) jobs to pour their hearts and souls into this wonderful coffee house which opened only last year. There’s an extensive menu of coffees to choose from – many supplied by Woking’s Beanberry (see below) – which Russell grinds on the spot and then feeds into the drip station. It’s a real luxury.
“I had always wanted to set up a coffee house but was eager to do something different,” Russell remarks.
Indeed. Pinnock’s is no ordinary café. The food is fantastic, and the upper floor feels more like a gentlemen’s club with its comfy chairs, bookshelves and backgammon boards. You could lose yourself in there for hours. I know, because I have.
Beanberry Coffee Company is, like Pinnock’s, a new arrival on the Surrey coffee scene. Owner Edward quit his job as a finance director of an oil company in Colombia to pursue his dream of opening an exclusively organic, artisan roastery.
“My mission is to get the very best, organic coffee in the world, matching the best non-organic in taste,” he says.
Pinnock’s and Beanberry have discovered a mutual love of single estate coffee, and Beanberry now roasts for Pinnock’s on demand. It’s really nice to see two local companies working together to raise the standards of coffee in the county. Beanberry is about to start supplying The Lightbox, Woking’s art gallery café as well.
Order some coffee from Edward online, he’ll roast it – and grind if necessary, of course – and have it on your kitchen table 24 hours later, while the oils and flavours are at their peak.
As I write, Edward is expecting a delivery of a new Bolinda Primavera coffee, which translates as “beautiful Bolivian spring”. It comes from a microlot of six farmers, members of neighbouring Colonia Bolinda and Colonia Primavera settlements, and is processed at the Buena Vista wet mill – a very good mill in Caranavi town. It sounds divine.
Like.. Russell and Andy, Edward is totally smitten with his new adventure. He sums it up nicely.
“It’s a romance,” he says.
There appears to be a lot of confusion among coffee drinkers as to how roasted coffee should be stored. Almost everybody heard or read that coffee should be stored in a cool dry place, but what does it actually mean?
Well, roasted coffee loses freshness incredibly fast. Contact with air, high temperature, moisture and exposure to light are all contributing to the loss of flavour and aroma. Good storage is nothing else but limiting these factors as much as possible and this is where key storage principles come into play.
1. The lower the temperature, the slower the loss of freshness.
2. Humidity is a huge problem. Coffee beans are meant to be dry.
3. If humidity issue is addressed, fridge or freezer is good, freezer is better.
Generally, we do not recommend using fridge or freezer to keep the bag of coffee which is constantly being pulled out, opened, closed and put back. Condensation will start building up immediately upon retrieval from the fridge/freezer and that is not good.
If you have just bought enough coffee to last for a week, it is just best to keep it in a tight container or a bag somewhere in the larder, away from sources of light and heat. However, if you have more coffee than you can enjoy in a matter of days, you have to start thinking about how to retain freshness of the coffee that you will be having later on.
If coffee is just put away for a long time, and particularly if it is still in the sealed coffee bag, we recommend putting that bag into a couple of zipped plastic bag (to further increase impermeability) and store it in the freezer. Once retrieved from the freezer, we would leave it on the counter in all its wrappings until the temperatures have equalised before opening the coffee bag. We do not recommend putting the coffee bag back.
With this in mind, if you do not consume your coffee fast or you have ended buying more coffee than you can have in a week, we would recommend splitting your coffee into 7-day portions and keeping them in the freezer (properly wrapped and sealed) until their turn comes up. Once out, store the beans in a sealed jar somewhere in the larder and enjoy them before they get stale.
Another good way of storing coffee, once the sealed coffee pouch was opened or the coffee has been removed from the freezer, is in an old clean and dry wine bottle – we would use a rubber cork and a degassing hand pump set (Waitrose and Sainsbury's carry those sets for about £3.50 or so). Coffee goes in, cork is inserted and all the air is pumped out. The bottle should be stashed away (into the larder) to keep coffee away from the light - this is a great method to keep it fresh.