Never underestimate the value of a good cup of coffee. Those little mugs of intense taste and an always welcome caffeine kick are what get me through the working day. So whilst not directly related to anything IT I think the contribution of this wonderful little bean to my daily achievements is worthy of a little side blog.
I get all my coffee these days from a terrific little coffee roaster in Perth, Scotland, called The Bean Shop. With amazing beans (perfectly roasted) from around the globe, I always like to try something new but also gladly welcome old friends back into my cafetiere. I’ll update this blog with the brews that I try…
OCTOBER 2016 – India Gems of Araku (Fairtrade Organic) (5/5)
They say “coffee is the product of small holder coffee farmers from the indigenous tribes of the Eastern Ghats in the Andhra Pradesh region of India”
I say “With an exotic and enticing name like that it was always a certainty that this one was going to end up in my basket. It did not disappoint, in fact in all my years of coffee drinking I’ll state here that I’ve never had better. A complex blend of smooth, gentle notes, medium roast but with a surprise caffeine kick of substance that brings a smile to my face and puts a spring in my step. With one bag safely delivered, I immediately logged back online and got another batch ordered, there’s no way I want to run out of this one for a while…”
November 2016 – Kenya Kiri Smallholder Co-op AA (5/5)
They say “Kenya Kiri AA, at 1900m the Nyiriambu Farmers Cooperative of 1,300 farmers many of whom are women are located in the Kirinyaga County, alongside the famous Mount Kenya the highest mountain in Kenya and 2nd highest in Africa. This area is rich with volcanic soil from past eruptions of the now dormant mountain.”
I say “Don’t you reckon things are even better in life when they are free? I certainly do! This beautiful bag of beans, a surprise freebie from the good proprietors of The Bean Shop is no exception. Typically I go for Asian or South American beans, I guess because they’re always so good, but I’m really glad I got this sample bag, it’s an incredible brew. Opening the bag for the first time (you simply cannot beat that initial aroma explosion, I love inhaling deeply to get a great big nose full of the freshly roasted beans 🙂 ) I got a real smell of malt and a promise of a rich taste. Once again I wasn’t disappointed, it’s very different to other coffees I’ve tasted. Rich – yes, velvety – yes, but the big surprise to me is the unmistakable natural sweetness. It really ties in with that malty fragrance. I’ve never encountered that before in a coffee, it makes for a lovely warming drink in a cold, late-Autumn morning. And finally the caffeine kick?? Yes, add a big red tick next that too. That cuppa has set me up nicely for the morning ahead, and convinced me that African coffees will feature in future shopping trips.”
December 2016 – Christmas Blend (5/5)
They say “Our classic Christmas Blend coffee beans are rich and chocolatey smooth. Selected from 100% arabica beans from Central America and Indonesia, it is a well balanced coffee blend and has a full-bodied flavour with a hint of spice. It has low acidity with sweet and mild caramel finish. It is a versatile coffee and is suited to all brewing methods which makes it the perfect coffee for the festive season.”
I say “Ho ho ho, Merry Christmas one and all!!! The tree, the lights, the tinsel, It’s a Wonderful life on TV, the vast array of booze and chocolate that will increase my waistline by, the now customary, extra inch by New Year, all these things signal the arrival of Christmas and the excitement and merriment it brings. Now firmly added to this list is this amazing Christmas blend coffee, Medium-Dark Roast, Spice, Chocolately and Sweet, I honestly don’t know how they do it but you can genuinely taste all these wonderfully warm, indulgent and complex flavours in this incredible bean. I mean it’s not flavoured with anything it’s just the wizardry of the bean and roasting process that’s done it. The smell when you open the pouch is incredible and the flavour is intense yet so smooth at the same time. I usually prefer a light-medium blend but this darker roast really fits the bill as nights grow ever darker and colder, and our newly installed wood burning stove radiates its soothing warmth. Christmas is all about tradition, and may this magical Christmas Blend be a feature of many happy Christmases to come.
August 2017 – Burundi Kivubo Sanzu (1/5)
They say “can’t find the link but I’m sure it sounded nice…”
I say “You win some, you lose some. This statement can be be applied to a great many things and does this coffee justice. I just wasn’t impressed, it was a bland and unsatisfactory effort, quite unlike the The Bean Shop usual standard. It had a nuttiness and underlying sweetness that just dominated every sip. In fact I switched to a instant coffee during getting through this bag (almost unheard of) and I remember thinking there was very little difference between the two offerings. Sadly in life we all encounter disappointments, this coffee was one of them. Hey-ho..
September 2017 – Congo Kahondo Kivu (5/5)
They say “Congo Kivu Kahondo has a heavy body, deep berry tones, with hints of mandarin orange, stone fruit, and at lighter roasts, subtle hints of spice.”
I say “I remember as kid watching a program on BBC2 called Food and Drink. On it they’d have a segment for wine tasting fronted by these too exceptionally irritating wine “experts” who’d try endlessly to convince you that this wine wine made purely from grapes tasted of pineapple, mango and tree bark. Even as a young child I remember thinking what utter piffle. Now as a middle-aged adult I still think the same, maybe I’m just cursed with an underdeveloped palette, so when I read the “deep berry tones” comment I was immediately reminded of those annoying wine tasters. But, to my amazement, you could actually smell and taste deep red berry flavours. Even my wife commented on this when I ground the first batch of beans. It was incredible, I don’t think I’ve had a more complex cup of coffee. Each glug brought with it a swirl of taste sensations, something akin to Willy Wonka’s bubblegum that gave Violet a delicious meal until the blueberry disaster. Fortunately no such fate lay in wait for me, and I was able to enjoy many more cups of this deliciously deep, fruity coffee without having to be whisked away to a juicing facility.
October 2017 – Kenya Zawadi Peaberry (4/5)
The say “Grown in the central African Highlands, this Kenya Zawadi (meaning gift in Swahili) is grown without shade where it develops an intense flavour. It has a sweet forest fruits aroma with a sensational rich blackcurrant and cherry flavour, a juicy sweet orange acidity and a slightly chocolate finish…”
I say “If this coffee were a person, or to narrow that down further if this coffee were a sportsperson it would be Sir Ian “Beefy” Botham. Sir Ian was known as one of the best all-rounders in the game of cricket, this coffee certainly fits the bill as an outstanding all-rounder. Perfectly balanced, smooth, mellow, wonderful after taste, exceptionally satisfying…