Coffee cupping at Taylor St Roasted
Taylor St Baristas are half a dozen coffee shops in London. The gold standard for coffee.
They used to have a coffee shop in Brighton, which was excellent, but sadly it closed a couple of years ago. It was in the wrong location. It was a pity they did not relocate or let the staff and customers acquire as an open coop and run as an indie coffee shop.
Having had fingers burnt with Harris + Hoole, the focus is now on Tayor St Baristas and organic growth.
The latest venture Taylor St Roasted, a coffee roastery, to supply the coffee shops, and to supply customers direct.
Taylor St Baristas were supplied by Union Hand-Roasted Coffee. A hard act to follow. Was it a wise move to open their own roastery? Too many are going into roasting beans who know not a thing about roasting coffee beans. A long chat with their master coffee roaster. He knows his stuff.
On walking in, I noticed one large roaster and a row of half a dozen Probat roasters for sample roasting.
A fascinating introductory talk by Henry Clifford, coffee trader from D R Wakefield green coffee bean merchants, on Los Nogales Project in El Salvador.
Coffee beans sourced from one estate owned by the Salaverria family, three farms, different varieties, different plots, different processing of the beans.
In addition, sourced from the same estate, two lots of beans from Horsham Coffee Roasters for comparison.
Horsham Coffee Roasters:
We’re very excited to announce our new lots from the Los Nogales project in El Salvador. Located in the Apanaca Llamatepec region of El Salvador, Los Nogales is a very special farm. Launched by the farm’s owners, the Salaverria family, Project Nogales is a unique opportunity through which buyers are invited to chose their coffee by plot of land, process and variety. We have chosen two lots processed two different ways from the El Roble plot, which is planted with Red Bourbon. One lot has been processed using the Natural method and the other is fully washed and then soaked, a method that has become widely known as the Kenyan process. After pulping, fermentation and washing the coffee is then soaked in fresh water which allows proteins and amino acids to develop which is thought to result in higher levels of acidity and complexity in the cup profile.
Direct Trade: Taylor St Roasted go through an intermediary, who works in partnership with the growers, will offer higher price for quality.
The growers were interested in participating partners for Los Nogales Project.
Now down to business, the cupping session.
Beans ground, smell the beans.
I had mugged up before on coffee cupping, Standart issue 6 and Real Fresh Coffee.
Note: Coffee cupping is to coffee what wine tasting is to wine.
I did not know, would I notice a difference between the different coffees, a dozen different coffees to cup?
What I also noticed was that one of the coffees from Horsham appeared identical to one of those from Taylor St Roasted.
Next add hot water, leave for four minutes to brew.
As the coffee is brewing, a crust forms on the surface of each cup of coffee.
Next break the crust. An aroma will erupt from the cup.
Now down to tasting.
Each time with a clean spoon, slurp the coffee.
Again I could notice the different tastes. One tasted over roasted and I did not like. A few were very tea like.
Again I noticed identical with a coffee from Horsham, but, what was curious, it was not the same two coffees as before
All the coffees from the same farm, identical roast profile (Horsham would have been different) and yet very noticeable different tastes.
In many ways this should not be a surprise. Wines are different, as are different varieties of apple.
Occasionally a coffee shop may have a cupping in the evening for example Madame Waffle. How they do this I do not know, but at a guess, different coffees, maybe a bag of coffee from a supermarket for contrast. Maybe also look at the beans first, note the defects in the supermarket coffee. Thus would expect to see differences in cupping.
What surprised me was how noticeable were the differences, for Los Nogales Project coffee beans all from the same farms, a difference in how the beans were processed, the varieties, the plot.
Note: Between picking the coffee cherries and shipping out the green beans, coffee beans are processed to remove the flesh of the coffee cherry. On a bag of speciality coffee, in addition to information on origin, maybe variety, maybe Q grade, it may include notes on processing.
It was then beer. Bottled beer from a craft brewery, Anspach & Hobday.
Four different bottled beers were on offer, with an explanation on each: The IPA, The Pale Ale, The Smoked Brown and The Sour Dry Hop.
The IPA and The Pale Ale, hoppy and bitter, The Smoked Brown hints of smoked bacon, I decided to give a miss. The Sour Dry Hop I tried. Very unusual, hints of elder flower.
I suggested, as we had had coffee cupping, now time for beer cupping.
I was invited to pay their brewery a visit.
It is always a good sign to see small indie businesses, promoting quality and innovation, supporting each other.
Special thanks to Taylor St Roasted for the invite and for an excellent and interesting evening, to Henry Clifford for explanation and discussion of Los Nogales Project, and to Paul Anspach and Jack Hobday for bringing along their excellent bottled craft beer.