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Coffee Arrivals – July 2015

Hull Coffee Roaster, East Yorkshire

Hull Coffee Roaster, East Yorkshire

New Coffee

Coffee is seasonal, and we generally see new coffee arrivals every month in the roastery. This month has been a good month for coffee in Hull.

Today we’ve released our first box of Kenyan coffee – Karimikui AB and it’s tasting stunning. Next week we’ll see a return of a coffee that impressed us last year, El Salvador Las Meninas. The Las Meninas will also be an ongoing feature in our espresso blend, Jones. Test roasts to ascertain blend proportions are scheduled for next week. We’ve also released our first ever coffee from Honduras – the Altos de Erapuca and seen our first Costa Rican micro-lot bought through Falcon Speciality, the really beautiful tasting Finca Santos. Oh and a new decaf to boot too – Brazil Santa Lucia Decaffeinated.

No doubt, August will some some more great arrivals. Until then, below is a synopsis of each of the coffees described above.

Costa Rica Finca Santos

Displays sweet, clean citrus acidity, buttery body with notes of cherry and cocoa powder.

Honduras Finca Altos de Erapuca

Has a lively and pointy lemon style acidity with notes of caramel and sweet orange on the finish.

Kenya Karimikui AB

Displays an intense lemon like acidity with jasmine florals and underlying red berry and blackcurrant notes. Sweet and complex.

Brazil Santa Lucia Decaffeinated

Shows great sweetness, notes of toasted hazelnut and plenty of chocolate.

Enjoy the coffee!

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Changes To Our Coffee Subscription

Coffee Subscription package by The Blending Room, Hull, East Yorkshire

Coffee Subscription package by The Blending Room, Hull, East Yorkshire
Back in January 2015, and after a long six year wait, I finally got around to putting together a coffee subscription package. Initially this was a three and six month subscription, which has proved to be a success (thanks to all our current subscribers!)

I’ve spent a bit of time over the weekend in making our subscription coffee offering a bit better. Now all the packages are auto renewing. I regularly get emails asking how many months left someone has on their coffee subscription. Now, you’ll keep getting coffee until the day you cancel (which you can do at any point). I’ve also expanded the options to now include a monthly and twice weekly coffee subscription.

So what do you get with the new coffee subscription? Each month we will select a coffee to roast and send out as part of our coffee subscription. Sometimes the coffee might be part of our range, often it’s a pre-release coffee, and sometimes we offer a coffee which is exclusive to our subscription customers.

With each coffee subscription we produce a newsletter giving additional information about the coffee we have sent. Our aim is to try and vary the content of these newsletters and include subjects such as coffee sourcing, roasting and brewing.

I hope the changes are as well received as our initial launch into subscription coffee. Feel free to leave us feedback on how the service can be bettered still.

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Coffee Dogma

“Dogma is a principle or set of principles laid down by an authority as incontrovertibly true. It serves as part of the primary basis of an ideology or belief system, and it cannot be changed or discarded without affecting the very system’s paradigm, or the ideology itself.”

I am often asked what recipes to use for espresso, pour over and cafetière. My answers a described through numbers. I roast to profiles. These profiles are refined to those suitable for ‘filter’ and ‘espresso’. I use Cropster, a VST refractometer, scales, water with a certain chemistry and a stop watch. I log all my roasts. I track roastery conditions before, during and after each batch. I log quite a lot of my in-house brews – what was the TDS, time, grind size, brew method. I produce and store a whole bunch of data.

What am I getting at? There is an awful lot of discussion about brewing technique on the internet. A lot of these techniques have begun to introduce numbers. These numbers have been derived from ‘gadgets’ that can be purchased and used by anyone who has the required budget. The result of which, is that I find a number of people in my peer group brewing to numbers. The same can be said of roasting for that matter. I too fall foul of this when approaching a new coffee. I lean towards the numbers to give me the result that I’m after and tend to trust that those numbers, or boundaries, will yield something tasty. Invariably this is correct. The numbers will get us in to the ball park in which we’re seeking. It will guide us towards producing something tasty.

So what’s the point? Taste. You must taste the result. Brew or roast by numbers, but taste. Taste the output. 20 – 25% development time may be a prescribed recipe, but 15.5% may taste better. 20% extraction yield may be seen as the median and therefore the most balanced brew by number. However, 18.2% may taste better.

When experimenting with profiling of any description. First taste, then measure the results. Brew/roast forward based on which taste better, irrespective of the number.

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Coffee by FRAYED Magazine

Collaboration with FRAYED Magazine and Thieving Harry’s

A couple of months ago, Jack from Thieving Harry’s mentioned that FRAYED Magazine were interested in working together to produce a written and video piece on coffee in Hull. I was more than happy to take part in what was a fun interview by Luke Chambers and great shoot by Josh Moore. I know that Jack, Thieving Harry’s and I are aligned when it comes to our attempt in developing a coffee scene in the city. Josh is a great videographer and runs his brilliant Frayed Magazine project with the same ethos. In his own words; “Frayed Magazine is for those who love creativity in all its forms but long to know how and most importantly – why it exists.” It’s under this banner that the genesis of the theme lies: “Frayed takes you on a journey. A journey of nature, science and senses. From Roaster to Barista – this is the how, where and why. This is coffee.”

Coffee by FRAYED Magazine Issue 005 is out now to purchase in Hull

I hope you enjoy Josh’s creation. It was a privilege to be involved.

Issue 005 of FRAYED is out now.

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Honduras Coffee Origin

Map of the Honduras coffee origin

Background to the Honduras coffee origin

It is not exactly known when coffee first reached Honduras, but it is believed that seeds may have arrived from Costa Rica between 1799 and 1804 amongst the goods brought by traveling merchants. Today, coffee plays an important role within the national economy – in 2011, Honduras produced more bags of coffee than Costa Rica and Guatemala combined. This shows that Honduras has great potential for growth and quality improvement.

Speciality coffee in Honduras

Coffee from the Honduras coffee origin is rarely found at centre stage of Central American coffee. When it comes to coffee awareness, the country is more likely to be found standing in the shadows of its more illustrious neighbours, Guatemala, Costa Rica and El Salvador. And yet on paper the reputation of Honduras coffee should be up there with those countries, since it has the same conditions to produce very good coffees: high altitude, volcanic and fertile soils, an ideal climate and plenty of expertise. Sadly however, a lack of investment and inadequate infrastructure means that finding the top quality speciality lots that Honduras can offer, is extremely hard work to find. That being said, over recent years, there has been an emergence of awareness of the benefits of growing speciality coffee amongst some forward thinking farmers. It is these such farms that our importers are working with to develop great tasting Honduras coffee.

There are six main departments in which coffee is grown in the Honduras coffee origin: Agalta, Comayagua, Copan, El Paraiso, Montecillos and Opalaca.

Agalta

Agalta pans most of northern Honduras and has a vast amount of protected rain forest. Altitudes ranger 1,000 – 1,400 masl. Harvest is December – March and common coffee varietals are Bourbon, Caturra and Typica.

Comayagua

Comayagua is in western central Honduras. Altitudes of 1,100 – 1,500 masl. Harvest is December to March and coffee varietals are Bourbon, Caturra and Typica.

Copan

Copan is a department situated in the west of Honduras and close to the border of Guatemala. Altitudes range from 1,000 – 1,500 masl. The harvest occurs between November to March and common coffee varietals are Bourbon, Caturra and Catuai.

El Paraiso

El Paraiso is located to the east of Honduras, bordering Nicaragua and is one of the oldest regions. It recently has suffered quite heavily with Roya – leaf rust. Altitudes range 1,000 – 1,400 masl. Harvest occurs between December and March with varietals of Catuai and Caturra.

Montecillios

Montecillios is considered a parent region of some sub-regions including La Paz and Marcala. Altitudes of 1,200 – 1,600 masl. Harvest happens in December – April with varietals of Bourbon, Caturra, Catuai and Pacas.

Opalaca

Opalaca is named after the Opalaca mountain range that stretches through this region. Altitudes of 1,100 – 1,500 masl are seen. Harvest is November to February. Bourbon, Catuai and Typica varietals can be found here.

Typical Honduras coffee farm in the Honduras coffee origin

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Green Coffee

Green Coffee
Although we operate a ‘by appointment only’ approach at the roastery, we often get people dropping in. This usually (if we’re not roasting) ends in a small tour of the facility and description of the processes involved in order to produce roasted coffee. Often people are keen to see (and handle) coffee in its raw state – green coffee. Most are genuinely surprised at the colour, and the fact that they don’t smell like coffee (think fresh cut hay or possibly peas). If we ever have a bag of naturally processed Ehtiopian coffee in store, it’s this bag and it’s boozy aromatics, that startles most.

With the above in mind, I thought it would be useful to post a photo of raw green coffee, or green beans as us roasters call it. The beans in the photo are from a washed Central American farm, Muxbal. You’ll notice that the beans are a green/yellow colour and look vastly different from the brown, roasted product that you may be used to. You might also notice that the beans are stored in what looks like a plastic bag, which itself is inside the traditional jute sack. This is a Grainpro bag, which is now commonplace as a storage method for the speciality green coffee we purchase. These bags form a moisture and gas barrier which protects the coffee during transportation and storage. I will post an article on the benefits of different materials for transportation and storage at a later date.

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Coffee Subscription

Coffee Subscription package by The Blending Room, Hull, East Yorkshire

Coffee Subscription
When we fired the roaster up on January 5, along with our weekly espresso roasts, we were roasting the first batch of coffee for our coffee subscribers. Don’t ask me why it has taken nearly six years to put together a subscription coffee package, but better late than never. From January 2015 onwards, each month we will select a coffee to roast and send out as part of our coffee subscription. Sometimes the coffee might be part of our range, often it’s a pre-release coffee, and sometimes we offer a coffee which is exclusive to our subscription customers.

With each coffee subscription we produce a newsletter giving additional information about the coffee we have sent. Our aim is to try and vary the content of these newsletters and include subjects such as coffee sourcing, roasting and brewing.

We hope that those who purchased their coffee subscription are enjoying their brew, and hope those to come do too!

Our coffee subscription can be purchased as a 3 or 6 month package through our website.

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Coffee Varieties

Bourbon

Bourbon coffee was first produced in Réunion, which was known as Île Bourbon before 1789. It was later taken by the French to mainland Africa and to Latin America, and is now one of the two most popular Arabica coffees grown worldwide.
Bourbon coffee is usually produced at high altitudes and has a higher yield than Typica, but produces a similar quality of coffee.

Catuai

Catuai is a hybrid of Mundo Novo and Caturra bred in Brazil in the late 1950s. Another high yielding plant, low growing coffee variety that is widely used by Brazil coffee plantations.

Caturra

Caturra is a mutation of the Bourbon variety, found near the town of Caturra, Brazil in the 1930s. It produces a higher yield than Bourbon due to the plant being shorter and with less distance between the branches. The Caturra variety generally matures more quickly and is more disease resistant than older, traditional Arabica varieties.

Mundo Novo

Mundo Novo is a hybrid between Bourbon and Typica, crossed in the 1940s in Brazil.
The variety is particularly suited to the climate in Brazil, which allows for its very high yield. Another positive is its resistance to pests and disease and its ability to be planted very densely. For these reasons, a large proportion of Brazilian coffee consists of the Mundo Novo variety.

Typica

Typica originated from Yemeni stock, taken first to Malabar, India, and then to Indonesia by the Dutch. It later made its way to the West Indies to the French colony at Martinique. Typica has genetically evolved to produce new characteristics, often considered new varietals.

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Restructuring Our Coffee Selection

Last week I made some big changes to the coffee line up at The Blending Room. Those of you who are internet customers have received an email briefly explaining the change in direction, but I thought a blog post would allow me to go into further details about the reasons for changing direction.

For the past three years I have stocked a number of coffees and blindly thought that having a long list (upward of 24 at one point) was what you, the customer, wanted. Yes, this did give you choice in respect of a varied list of origins, but it didn’t take into account the seasonality of coffee and promoted habitual purchasing without thought about the product. This approach applied to me too (purchasing green coffee) and needed to change.

I know that over time, I have improved as a coffee roaster, cupper, green coffee purchaser etc and feel that you, the end consumer, have too. It’s this continued personal development that has been the driving force behind restructuring the coffee on offer. My approach from now forward will be to buy coffee that I feel will challenge us. That is, challenge me as a coffee roaster – knowing the effects of varieties, altitudes, processing methods etc on roasting and for you, how the aforementioned changes the cup profile of your coffee.

My green coffee purchasing will now follow some simple rules. Coffee will only be bought on a seasonal, “new crop” basis. Each coffee will come with greater provenance – origin, farm details, variety, terroir etc. The list of coffee shall never exceed what I deem adequate to turn over in no greater than 6 weeks (to expose each of us to as many coffees as possible). All coffee will be chosen on their performance on the cupping table.

What will I expect from you? Greater feedback on the coffee I put in front of you and trust. It’s that simple.

I hope the above explains the reasoning behind the fine tuning in direction. If you have any questions, please feel free to comment.

James

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Cafetiere Brew Guide

How do you make the perfect cafetiere of coffee? Well, the instructions below will get you pretty close to a perfect cup and importantly, be able to replicate it time and time again.

Firstly, there a few tools that you will require, so go ahead and put together everything on the ‘tools’ list:

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  • Cafetiere of your choice
  • Freshly roasted, coarse ground coffee
  • Your favourite coffee mug
  • Measuring scales – kitchen scales will be perfect
  • Spoon
  • Stopwatch
  • Kettle
  • Filtered water / bottled water

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Once you have the items above, you’re ready to make the best cafetiere of coffee ever and this is how to achieve it:

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  1. Fill your kettle with your filtered water and begin to heat
  2. Work out how many millilitre’s your cafetiere is – an 8 cup is usually around 1000ml
  3. Place your cafetiere onto your measuring scales and ‘tare’ the weight so that with the cafetiere on, the weight is zero
  4. With the volume of your cafetiere understood, we need to firstly decide on your desired weight of coffee. We use a range of 60 – 75g per 1000ml depending on the coffee. As a rule of thumb, let’s start with 60g per 1000ml
  5. With our weight of 60g per 1000ml decided, let’s do some maths! So for an 8 cup cafetiere we would need to measure in 60g of freshly ground coffee. For a 4 cup at 600ml we would need to do: 60 / 1000 * 600 = 36g. Using this equation we can work out exactly how much coffee to use each and every time you make your cafetiere.
  6. Place your mathematically decided weight of coffee into the cafetiere and ‘tare’ the weight once more
  7. The cafeteire and coffee will equal zero weight and this is to precisely measure the volume and weight of water
  8. Allow the kettle to reach your desired temperature. We recommend 90 degrees Celsius
  9. Pour water over the ground coffee until the bed is fully wet and stop (short of your full amount). We are attempting to create a bloom, where water pre-infuses the dry coffee. As soon as you pour – start your stop watch!
  10. After 30 seconds, pour the remaining water into the cafetiere, covering all the coffee until your target weight has been achieved. In this case 1000ml for our 8 cup cafetiere
  11. Stir three times
  12. Once 4 minutes is reached, gently remove the floating grinds by scooping them out with your spoon. This will leave less mess later on
  13. Attach the plunger and plunge. This would take about 10 – 20 seconds to achieve and shouldn’t feel too ‘stiff’. If it does, the coffee may have been ground slightly too fine
  14. Poor some remaining water from the kettle into your mug and discard. This is solely to pre-heat the cup
  15. Once the plunge has been completed, pour your coffee into your cup and enjoy!

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The fifteen steps above are meant as a guide. Please alter where necessary to fine tune against each coffee you try.

If you come across any other variations of how to make the perfect cafetiere, do feel free to email us!

Happy coffee drinking

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