Not the only one from Leeds at the London Coffee Festival, in fact there was quite a few of us to my knowledge, fellow Leeds coffee fanatic Patrick Joseph was on stand SR38 showcasing his one cup brewing station, the CoffeEasy. As much as I love going to my favourite coffee shops for a cup of expertly prepared coffee, I also make a lot of coffee at home and having historically brewed coffee with a cafetière, or a French press depending on your terminology, due mainly to its cheap cost and ease of use, it can sometimes be difficult to receive consistent results. With many of us now taking advantage of alternative home brewing solutions in the form of the aeropress, the Hario V60 or the Kalita Wave, in order to gain more control over our home brewing, we’re left with the conundrum of where to store it all and restricted to a set of specifically sized cups.
The CoffeEasy arguably solves these problems, offering both storage solutions and a platform from which to brew your coffee, while giving you a greater degree of hands off control. No more aero’mess’ as Patrick puts it and you can get a better view of what you’re doing while you’re brewing. What the CoffeEasy really offers is a fully built coffee brewing platform, meaning that you can reserve all your amateur carpentry and DIY skills for elsewhere around your home, rather than trying to construct a V60 station from various materials that you find lying about. Although, this is exactly what Patrick did, mocking up his first concepts from polystyrene and matches, thankfully though, his latest model has a much improved build quality over his first attempts.
For those of you who missed out at the festival and are looking to find a place to purchase one, you can get them from HasBean’s online store, where they have some exclusive HasBean red versions should you be so daring. While there, we discussed the value of brewing at home and trying to get high quality consistent results as an exercise in patience and trial and error. We also talked about Patrick’s love of music, which has begun to be reflected in his branding, teaming his love of vinyl with his love of coffee. He used to sell vinyl in Paris apparently!
Located in the new Plantation Zone of the London Coffee Festival, DR Wakefield were responsible for hosting the festivals longest cupping table. A table at which, we were about to sample no less than 10 different coffees from Daterra, Brazil. With their expertise in supplying green coffee, they had managed to secure 10 separate coffees from Daterra, Brazil to showcase the potential differences in Brazilian coffee. Renowned for is classical flavours of chocolate, caramel and nuts, Brazilian coffees are often used to balance espresso blends, but can be a little one dimensional when brewed as a single origin.
DR Wakefield were here however, to dispel such a myth and represent the diversity available from just a single region in Brazil. Daterra might have a pretty consistent method for processing the coffee it produces, but, inevitably there will be distinct flavour differences across the varietals they produce, which include typica, bourbon, caturra and mundo nuovo varietals amongst others. DR Wakefield had set the cupping up to highlight these differences, setting up the table to start with two fairly typical Brazilian coffees featuring those typical chocolate, caramel and nut flavours.
To follow there were 4 coffees designed to exhibit the fruitiness and sweetness of Daterra’s coffees, likely from the bourbon and caturra varietals. These were not like Brazilian coffees I’d tasted before, bearing more similarities to some Colombian coffees I’ve tasted previously. Still there was something missing here, which may have been due to the brew method, but more likely the coffee, they were sweet and fruity but not overtly complex, they were still, as the two before, a little one dimensional.
Then came the 4 coffees at the end, these coffees were designed to exhibit the complexity available in Brazilian coffees. If im honest I can’t remember a lot about the first three, but that’s because the last one really stuck with me and I’d had an inkling that this would be the case. The last coffee reminded me of a tweet I’d seen from Workshop Coffee, which read ‘We don’t buy naturals, and we don’t buy Brazils. But sometimes, just sometimes, we buy natural Brazils’. I could understand the feeling in their sentiment, the last coffee was a naturally processed Brazilian and it was the most complex of the lot, it was also the most flavourful. The guy tasting next to me was fully in agreement, putting his cupping spoon down he exclaimed ‘that naturals the best, huh?’ and I couldn’t disagree.
The cupping table was as it always is, a fun learning experience, often changing your perceptions and opinions of coffee, or in this case confirming what you think you like about coffee. In this case it was well organised and easy to understand what was on display and easy to discern the differences between the coffees. Meaning DR Wakefield had unsurprisingly done their job excellently.
As I’d mentioned in my previous post on London Coffee Festival, cold brew featured heavily, with just about everyone offering a cold brew alongside their regular brews. Minor Figures, like Sandows before them though are focussing on getting cold brew right, rather than just offering it due to popular demand. Looking for somebody else to convince me to ditch the odd hot brew in favour of cold, we popped by their stand to sample their cold brew. There we met Jonathan who was handing out samples through swathes of bodies crowding the stand.
Tasting the cold brew, it was noticeably different from Sandows, but not in a bad way, more like the difference between a coffee from Nyeri, Kenya and one from Mandheling, Sumatra. In this particular case Minor Figures had made their cold brew with a Yirgacheffe from Ethiopia, in comparison to Sandows it was sweeter, less acidic and slightly floral while being very balanced. Minor Figures do add a little demerara sugar to their cold brew, but the sweetness was definitely inherent in the coffee bean as well. In terms of comparison, the cold brew was less complex but far more accessible to new cold brew drinkers, something which seemed intentional rather than accidental.
Whats eminently noticeable about Minor Figures cold brew is the absence of a glass bottle, popular amongst other cold brew brands the glass bottle has been dropped in favour of a carton. No doubt cheaper, this isn’t just a decision based on cost, rather one with shrewd intentions behind it. With shelf space opening up to canned and cartoned coffee in supermarkets, Minor Figures are adequately placed to fill this space, offering consumers an all natural, high quality cold brew coffee brand, as an alternative to the milk, sugar and additive filled options currently available.
There’s also another reason Jonathan explained to us, as to why Minor Figures went with their attractively branded cartons. Most cold brew currently comes in glass bottles that look a lot like beer and whiskey bottles, something that poses a socially awkward question about what that guy on the train happens to be drinking at 08:30am in the morning. The carton however, feels more acceptable or more familiar to be drunk whilst walking down the high street or while at work, again adding to their accessibility. In the end the flavour was what I was convinced by, not the packaging, so I bought some.
Working in collaboration, Notes Coffee had teamed up with roaster manufacturer Loring to showcase Note’s coffees, which had been roasted using a Loring roaster. Having recently seen Loring’s 35kg drum Kestrel roaster at Brooklyn Roasting Company I went over for a chat and to see what they were brewing. On offer was their Geraldo Silva, a washed caturra varietal from Huila, Colombia, sitting next to their Finca Tamana Lot#3 a farm I have a huge soft spot for, but a coffee which I’ve tried before.
While waiting for the Geraldo Silva to cool a little, I explained my love of coffees from Finca Tamana to the barista, who exclaimed her preference for the Nyamasheke PB over on the shelf. Explaining that she preferred the brighter, sweeter coffees that she roasted at Notes. To taste the Geraldo Silva was well balanced between notes of chocolate and red apple acidity rounding off the cup nicely. Here were two examples of why Colombian coffees are some of my favourite coffees to drink.