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If you happened to read my first blog post you’ll know I’m currently transforming myself into a whole bean coffee convert. Obviously I still dabble in the instant world and I am very much a tea drinker but the bulk of my caffeine intake shall come from the whole beans I source each month from a new supplier.
With no professional background in coffee cupping, sipping or tasting my comments are based solely on my own experiences and what I have found to produce a mug of coffee I enjoy. I have however set out a few basic principles from which I will follow in order to make the process as comparable as possible. These include using a bean that I could easily re-order if I so choose, isn’t a seasonal special and is comparably priced. Oh and free shipping does gain extra kudos.
So here goes…
January, My first month and my first whole bean supplier has been Extract Coffee based in Bristol. I stumbled across these guys when they were the guest bean at “Fuel” a coffee bar situated inside hassock station (part of my commute). At the time what caught my eye was the artwork used for their “DR. STRANGELOVE ESPRESSO”, A big old bomb just like you see in the old war films with plumes of smoke.
Luckily for me I had taken a picture on my phone at the time as a source of future inspiration, only to forget all about it. Lo and behold they’d be first up and I would recognise it instantly on their website. Unfortunately (but not disappointingly) for the purpose of the “whole bean” challenge I was required to opt for the “ORIGINAL ESPRESSO” bean as this fitted better with my self appointed rules.
I placed my order on December the 31st and got an email on January 4th to say it had been shipped (free shipping). Arriving just a few days after and with a “roasted on” date of January 3rd, just one day before shipping I was already impressed.
The smell from the Extract Coffee offering is both immediate and overwhelming, I’m pretty sure it’s crafted to ensure you brew straight away (which I did!)
Extract Coffee slip a neat little flyer in with their beans giving you such information as the origin of the beans, what you can expect taste wise, with and without milk. Turning over there is a full side dedicated to a write up on the blend and how it came about (see pic). I love this kind of stuff, and as a newbie I find it’s helping me learn and confirm my tastes.
Being the first bean up I initially felt I was going to do some injustice to Extracts offering, I was running over on timing and going under and over on the water/bean ratios and this did I guess dent my confidence. I could see my pile of beans dwindling before me. But after a few probing tweets I’m glad to say that the coffee world that resides on twitter got me back on track and presented me with exactly the sort of advice I needed.
“It’s your coffee man, you enjoy it how you like it.”
I’d love to continue to explain all the flavours I dreamt up and the various notes and so forth but truth be told when I read on the packaging “Hazelnut, Caramel and Cocoa, then with milk creme caramel and malt shake” I literally couldn’t of summed it up any better. The thing is I’m new to this and I don’t really know what I should be tasting for and how I should do it. I brew a coffee in my Aeropress and I see if I enjoy it more or less than the last.
So what did I Change/Learn..
This month has been a real trial and error approach for me, but I’ve tried to be consistent, making only small tweaks and repeating till I’m satisfied. I started with 14g and that seems to work really well, so bar the odd brew just to test, I think I’ll continue with this next month. However I quickly changed my grind and brew time, I found that by making it just so slightly coarser and the brew a little longer the results were more to my liking (see pic). I now hit the start button on my timer as I pour in the first drops of water, 2min 30 seconds later I flip and press. Total brew time is close to 3 minutes now. I’ll start with this on my next batch of beans and see how I go.
I’m still whole bean and can’t get over how much better my coffee is! The taste from freshly ground beans is bar none and with the added effort put into each brew it’s almost created a whole new hobby for me. Extract was a great introduction to the whole bean world of coffee for me and although I must pick another supplier for February I’ll definitely be revisiting extracts offerings in the future.
Next month I’ll be brewing with beans from Horsham Coffee Roasters.