Coffees of the month – Ethiopia Yirgacheffe and Sumatra Lingtong Takengon

Here is the next episode of my ‘coffee of the month‘ series which documents my introduction into the world of gourmet coffees. Just to re-cap, i’ve been trying a new coffee (or two) each month since March 2009. I’ve slightly slipped behind with this latest report so it will have to be brief.

Ethiopia Yirgacheffe
Smooth and slightly fruity this was really lovely and really exemplifies what I think is my favourite type of coffee. Given the chance I could drink this all day.

Sumatra Lingtong Takengon
A great counterpoint to the Yirgacheffe this is a bit raw and full-on but I really liked that. This was a great wake-up coffee for me on a work day. The Yirgacheffe was much more of a relaxing weekend coffee.

I would definitely have both of these again.

Coffees of the month – Yemen Mocha Matari and Guatemala El Bosque Amatitlan Red Bourbon

Another month, another ‘coffee of the month’ review. This time I look at coffees from very different places.

Coffee from the finest estates
Coffee from the finest estates

Yemen Mocha Matari
The classic, original mocha (not to be confused with the chocolate coffee drink). I was keen to give this a try as Yemen is an old and high profile coffee growing country and mocha it’s most famous ‘brand’. I found this quite delicious – rich and, not surprisingly, a bit chocolately. I liked this and am keen to try some more mocha.

Guatemala El Bosque Amatitlan Red Bourbon
This was a very drinkable coffee, nice and fruity and a little acidic! I am finding over time that I prefer smooth, less acidic coffees so while this was good I much prefered the Mocha this month. I also generally found that this coffee didn’t particularly stand out from others I tried so I may not be getting it again.

Coffees of the Month – Kenya Gethumbwini and El Salvador Finca La Fany Bourbon

Another instalment of ‘coffee of the month’. This time I have a couple of corkers.

Kenya Gethumbwini
Fruity and yet smooth I really liked this coffee. Kenya as a region makes coffee I like very much and this one didn’t disappoint me. I would have this again. Perfect in the french press.

Coffee from Has Bean
Coffee from Has Bean

El Salvador Finca La Fany Bourbon
Steve from Has Bean eulogises a lot about the great coffee from El Salvador so I thought I should give one a go and picked this one more or less at random. Very nice indeed particularly in the aeropress. It was nice to have two coffees that lent themselves to different brewing methods, something I might try to do going forward.

Grinder
All top coffee people advocate the grinding of coffee in a burr grinder as it produces a much more even result than the blade machines. The burr grinders are, however, quite a bit more pricey and I’ve been using a reasonable de longhi blade grinder so far. It produced a fairly even grind to begin with, but now it has had a lot more use it’s slowly getting worse. I need to save some pennies…

Coffees of the Month – Bolivia Machacamarca and Ethiopian Harrar

As you can see from the title, the coffee of the month series has gone plural. My home coffee consumption has risen and I now seem to be using around 500g of coffee a month. Ironically, however, this has actually made a real term saving as I find I don’t buy so much coffee from the coffee chains on the way to work any more.

I’ve also abandoned my continent rotation policy and am now just going for the coffees that look interesting at the time of purchase.

Bolivia Machacamarca
This was the coffee used by Colin Harmon, the Irish champion at the World Barista championship (where he came fourth in the world) so again my expectations were quite high. As usual I tried a few different brewing methods, the aeropress and the french press, and while this was fine for both it worked best I thought in the aeropress from which I usually make americano. I guess this should be no surprise as it was as an espresso that it was used in the WBC.

This was one of those wonderful rich, luxurious and chocolaty coffees that was fairly complex yet very drinkable and moreish. This is pretty much my favourite coffee of the ones I tried this year and I would highly recommend it.

Ethiopian Harrar
Well, here I am essentially going back to the home of coffee, the only place in the world where it grows naturally in the forest and probably the place it originated. I’ve been wanting to try an Ethiopian for a while and picked this one more or less at random.

Very different from the Machacamarca, this is a bit rough around the edges and far less sophisticated. In fact the first couple of times I drank it I was even thinking to myself that I might not finish the bag. Since then and with a little perseverance it has grown on me. I’ve almost got to quite like the slightly harsh taste for my morning ‘wake-up’. This is no thoroughbred, but worth a try. I did wonder if this would work better as part of a blend maybe?

Ice coffee

Frappaccino
Frappaccino

It was a hot, weekend afternoon, I wanted some caffeine but hot coffee just seemed inappropriate. What I fancied was a frappaccino and thought i’d have a stab at making my own.

I made a quadruple espresso in the aeropress which I let cool and popped in the blender with some ice, milk and ‘taste the difference’ vanilla ice cream and gave it a buzz. What turned out was quite nice but I realise I got my ratios a bit wrong. Next time I’ll use less milk and more ice and ice-cream. Great for those afternoons in the garden with the paper.

Drinking vs tasting
Just wanted to pass on this little video from the sweet maria’s blog. Like so many of the best idea’s it’s so simple – don’t juts drink coffee, taste it. Watch the video as they explain it better than I can.

Coffee of the Month – Australian Skyberry

Welcome to the fifth instalment of ‘Coffee of the Month‘ and this time I’m drinking some Australian coffee. Yes, you read it right. Who’d have thought our antipodean friends made coffee? In my continent rotation policy, this is counting as ‘Asia’.

French press
French press

Australian Skyberry
The cupping notes from the roaster I bought it from said that this coffee has many of the properties of Jamaican blue mountain but at a fraction of the cost. I’ll have to take Steve’s word on that as it’s been a long time since I had some blue mountain.

What I can say about the skyberry though is that it is immensely balanced and consistent. I tried this coffee in the aeropress and the french press and it was equally good in both. I suspect that it would work well as an espresso too. It doesn’t seem to be outlandish or funky in any way, but neither is it bland. I really liked it and would be happy to drink this every day.

Brewing habits
Over the last couple of months I’ve been refining my brewing skills and I feel that I’ve got my french press nearly perfect. I generally start the day with a couple of cups. At work we also have french presses, but the coffee is just normal stuff and pre-ground. I find myself wrinkling my nose at this stuff now.

I think I’ve become a coffee snob. Oh dear.

Coffee of the month – Rwanda Kopabagaki

Here we go with the fourth installment of the ‘Coffee of the month‘ reviews, although I notice that I’m drinking enough coffee to do them slightly more often. Keeping with my plan to rotate around the coffee growing continents we are back at the beginning – Africa.

Rwanda Kopabagaki
Up to now, I’ve been getting my coffee from Has Bean but this month I got a bag from the Square Mile coffee company. One of their interesting quirks is that instead of the usual 250g bags they go for 350g. I did find this quantity a bit more useful, especially as I try various brewing methods for each coffee before I settle on a favourite.

One relatively significant problem I had while trying this coffee was a fairly substantial cold that severely reduced my power of smell and taste. This has turned out to be shame as it was only towards the end of the packet that my cold went and I got to fully appreciate this coffee.

So here it is, the verdict. Very nice. I could go on to say that it was smooth and approachable and was enormously more-some (something I wouldn’t always say even about coffees I adore). Not quite as light and effortless as many Kenyans I’ve had but in that region (geographically and in flavour). The Kenyan Kirgia I tried a few months back probably has the edge, but this was close.

Aeropress
Aeropress

As usual I gave this a few different brewing methods but was finding that the simple french press seemed to work best for me. I gave it a couple of goes in the aeropress and it was good, I’m just not sure that it was this coffee’s strength.

Raw Potato
The coffee site gave a warning of a potential defect to look out for with this coffee – raw potato. Not any actual raw potato you understand, just the smell. Apparently the coffee cherry is sometimes attacked by an insect and the consequence, which only comes out once ground, is the strong smell of raw potato. I was almost disappointed not to find this with any of my batch. Interesting though.

Coffee fact of the month
After Brazil the second largest producer of coffee in the world is in fact Vietnam. It’s mostly robusta beans, but still, it’s not a name synonymous with coffee.

Coffee of the month – Brazil Fazenda Cachoeira Canario

Brazil Fazenda Cachoeira Canario
Brazil Fazenda Cachoeira Canario

This is the third installment of my ‘Coffee of the month‘ reviews. I’ve decided to go round the coffee making continents in rotation, to start with at least. First we had Kenyan Kirigia from Africa, then Monsoon Malabar from Asia and this month I’m trying beans from the Americas.

Brewing update
Since my last review I’ve purchased an Aeropress coffee maker, which has added another dimension to my brewing. As many others have pointed out, it doesn’t make espresso as no crema is produced. It does, however make something very similar to espresso and in my view it’s strength is as a base for americano or latte. As a plus it is about the least messy way I’ve come across of making coffee.

Brazil Fazenda Cachoeira Canario
Brazil Fazenda Cachoeira Canario

Brazil Fazenda Cachoeira Canario
I’ve so far been buying my coffee from the Has Bean coffee company and the owner Steve rates this coffee high enough to label it a ‘must have’. Obviously I expected a lot.

I’ve brewed this coffee in the filter machine, the french press and the aeropress and it performs wonderfully in all of them. The taste of this coffee is very rich, warm, chocolaty and generally fantastic.

In my view this was a coffee that was very cosy and comforting and probably best in the afternoon or after a meal rather than a morning brew where I like something lighter.

This was far and away the best coffee that I’ve had so far in these reviews and I would definitely like to keep a packet in the house. Not one for all occasions, but pretty damn nice all the same.

Coffee of the month – Indian Monsoon Malabar

Indian Monsoon Malabar
Indian Monsoon Malabar

This continues my very amateur series of monthly coffee reviews. Last time it was the excellent Kenyan Kirigia Estate, but this month it is the exotic sounding Indian Monsoon Malabar.

Brewing
A quick word on brewing. Up until the last few weeks I’ve been either using a stove top/moka style pot (which I thought was espresso) or a filter machine with hot plate. Having looked into things with serious coffee drinkers I’ve recently concluded that I need to get my brewing right if I’m going to make the best of these wonderful coffees I’m drinking.

An expensive espresso maker is just not an option and by all accounts good coffee can be brewed on a much more limited budget. A simple but effective method of brewing is the old cafetiere (french press). I found a good video from the Square Mile Coffee people on how to get the most from this method. I’m seriously considering getting an aeropress which seems to be almost as good as an espresso maker but costs only £30.

Review
This coffee gets it’s name from the way it is stored in open sided warehouses in the port of Malabar where they let the moist monsoon winds circulate around the green beans.

I’ve so far brewed this coffee in the filter machine and the cafetiere. This coffee is definitely different and has an unusual taste. It’s quite light and open despite being quite a dark roast but there is a distinct hint of mustiness in there too. The tasting notes mention a tobacco aroma which I can kind of get a hint of, although I’m not sure this is a good thing.

It’s drinkable but I’m not entirely sure that I like it that much and certainly a lot less than last months coffee. On the plus side it’s unusualness makes it ‘an experience’ and I’m glad that I gave it a go. Not one I’ll be returning to soon.

Coffee fact of the month
The first coffeehouse opened in the UK in 1650 in the city of Oxford, followed two years later by one in London. The fashion for coffee grew thereafter, although the coffeehouses themselves did not always have the best of reputations.

“They were great social levellers, open to all men and indifferent to social status, and as a result associated with equality and republicanism.”

The great insurance firm Lloyds of London started business in a coffeehouse.

Coffee of the Month – Kenya Kiriga Estate

Coffee of the month - Kenya Kiriga Estate
Coffee of the month - Kenya Kiriga Estate

I’m starting a new regular series on one of my favourite things – coffee. I aim to get at least one batch of gourmet coffee each month and give my own short review of it.

The aim is try a wide range of different coffees from different regions and estates.

My starting coffee is Kenya Kiriga Estate Auction Lot 729. I bought this batch as pre-roasted whole beans and ground them myself. I used a standard drip filter machine to make the coffee.

Review
I really liked this coffee, it is light, rounded with no sign of bitterness. Like all good coffee (and wine) it has a complexity of flavour and tastes slightly different when first sipped to tasted and then swallowed.

I also brewed this coffee using a stove-top maker but found it slightly sour and definitely not as nice as when put through a filter. It could be that my stove-top making was off, but I’ll be sticking to filter or cafetiere with this coffee for the time being.

Coffee fact of the month
The coffee plant originates from the mountains of Ethiopia in East Africa where it is the only place it is still found growing wild.