A year of whole bean coffee

whole bean coffee

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This time last year I was beginning my journey of whole bean coffee, I had already received gifts consisting of a set of scales and a new grinder plus to accompany my Aeropress a v60. This was going to be the year I started drinking whole bean coffee I told myself.
And what a year its bean!

Last January I decided I would only use whole bean coffee, I would buy each bag from a new roaster and grind my own beans fresh. I was new to all this coffee stuff; what I mean is I drank it regularly and I even owned an Aeropress already but I had no idea really how to use it. I wanted to change this, I wanted to be scientific in my approach and understand the effects of weight, temperature and technique on the coffee I brewed.
Wanting to get going straight away whilst away for Christmas in Yorkshire I ordered from the first roaster I knew, Extract Coffee. I’d often had their coffee in the form of a flat white from my local coffee shop so this seemed a good place to start.
In that first month, the learning curve was massive and with the help of tweets from Extract and Caffeine magazine I felt I was starting to make some real progress. My coffee was making all kinds of changes, with only small tweaks it was if I had discovered something new altogether. This was great!

I had the initial idea that if I was trying coffee from all over I should order the so-called workhorse, house blend, regular bean. Espresso blend in most cases. But I soon learnt from those in the know that in fact, an espresso blend isn’t necessarily best for my filter methods. It’s not wrong it’s just not the ideal perhaps.
The espresso blend was created for the espresso machine, so it often needed higher pressures to really bring it to life. Far more than I could achieve with my Aeropress. This discovery within the first month now made it a far cry easier to order my coffee. I was no longer looking for a particular blend but could experiment across the roasters offerings.
I soon began to follow more and more roasters and coffee bloggers on Instagram and started to discover local roasters I had no idea existed. It actually turns out that within about 10 miles of my house there are at least four roasters. Choosing which coffee to get next was becoming an agonising decision, It was like being a kid in a sweet shop. I created a list of all those that I came across then decided I’d pick one a month and work down the list.

Then the trouble started.

So it turns out that non-inclusive, “what do you mean you don’t know” impression you get from (some) coffee types isn’t actually born with the roaster. Over the last 12 months, I’ve met some awesome people. I have had the pleasure of seeing first hand the effort, passions and dedication that goes into each bag of speciality coffee. I literally had no idea how much science is involved, from sourcing the green bean to exporting, roasting, profiling, cupping, packing and of course brewing. This industry, in my opinion, is a mixture of science and art.

I’m on a journey with coffee right now, I’m still looking for new roasters to try but I’ve also found some staples I love and keep going back for more. When it comes to my brewing I’m happy balancing the science with the art, it seems I have found a happy medium when it comes to the science. I enjoy weighing and taking meticulous care during the brew but I’m not super focused on carrying this across to the next. It’s like a lucky dip each brew. But choosing great beans to start and by following some basic principles I’m enjoying every cup.

Whats next.

In 2018 I want to take my knowledge further back to the source, understand more of how the coffee bean arrives at the roasters in its green state. Then see if I can better appreciate a link to the coffee I most enjoy drinking to the way its farmed.

If you are just starting out in speciality coffee or looking for something new to try you should definitely check out the following roasters, each one will no doubt invite you in for a brew and ensure you leave with that crazy Charlie and the chocolate factory experience and a handful of tasty beans.

In no particular order my last 12 months coffee (I may have missed a few):

Lindfield Coffee Roasters
– Ethiopia

Coffee Mongers
– Nakuti, Mocha
– Regina, Santos
– Mercator, Java
– Liberatrix, Gran Colombia

Red Bank Coffee Roasters
– Penny rock seasonal espresso

Craft House Coffee
– Kenya AB, Kiamabara
– Brazil, Judas Tadeu
– Costa Rica, Finca San Francisco
– Industrial
– Honduras, Finca Fiallos
– Colombia, Buesaquito, Narino

Perky Blinders
– Forest Blend

Extract Coffee Roasters
– Cast Iron
– Original Espresso

Heart and Graft
– Honduras Perez Microlot

Back Yard Coffee
– No.5
– No.4

Horsham Coffee Roasters
– Workhorse v4.1
– Pioneer v4.0

Pharmacie Coffee
– El Salvador, La Montana
– Costa Rica, San Francisco

Round Hill Roastery
– Finca San Jose

Artisan Roast
– Finca Don Jaime, El Salvador

 

Update:

If like me your ready to step up your home brewing you might be considering an Espresso machine, in which case you should check out this post The Best Espresso Machine

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