I’ve been a big coffee drinker ever since I went travelling during my GAP year. I would whittle my days away in different cafes, with a different drink, writing up my adventures in my diary (the amount of time I spent in cafes writing about my travels, I am surprised I had anything to write about). For my 18th Birthday – ironically, before all this began – one of my gifts from my parents was a cafetiere. For my 26th Birthday, I requested a larger cafetiere and, most especially, a manual coffee grinder, to which they obliged and I excitedly unwrapped, and have been using regularly in the six months since.
My coffee journey began a couple of years ago when I discovered a coffee shop in Leicester called St. Martins. (I was with a friend – Lizzie – at the time, a law student, who I had been thrilled to discover drank ‘proper’ coffee when I’d been visiting her flat. I remember her commenting that now she was a student she needed the proper stuff to keep her going.) It was a beautiful day so we sat outside in the sunshine while they created beautiful cappuccinos using their own St. Martins roast. Later, Lizzie patiently enjoyed the sunshine while I stood at the counter while the knowledgeable baristas pulled down jar-after-jar of coffee beans for me to smell, telling me their personal favourites and the stories behind the more exotic coffees. Eventually, I selected Monsoon Malabar, as I could almost smell the monsoon winds and rain rushing through the beans, and I could almost feel it myself.
Since then, I have tried various beans from various suppliers – always something different – and my husband has always told me that I should keep a notebook of this, but until last month, I never did. Now I have started doing this, I am kicking myself that I didn’t start it before! I find I usually get through two bags of 125g per month, so I buy two different – randomly selected – coffees at a time. This month’s coffee selection was Pico Duarte and Kochere.
£3.50/125g from Whittards
Strength – 3
This coffee is grown on mountainous slopes in the Dominican Republic where there are gentle winds and a humid climate. The soil there is rich in limestone, which distinguishes Pico Duarte from other South American coffees. Whittard’s describe this coffee as having a mellow smoothness and medium body which is ‘balanced by a piquant acidity with subtle notes of spice’.
I blind-tasted this coffee (made in a cafetiere) and found it to be spicy and woody, not bitter, and with a deceiving strength – the colour and body of this coffee make it look like a stronger coffee than it is. I found by adding milk, it brought out more of the coffee’s flavour. I also tried it as an espresso and, again, woody and spicy were the key elements, but I found it to have a sleek caramel finish.
Overall, this was a very drinkable, everyday coffee, be it black, white, or as an espresso. Not something I expected to find on the very first coffee I write about, which makes it hard to rate. However, as an everyday coffee, I give it the full 5 stars.
£2.60/100g from Monmouth Coffee Company
This coffee comes from the Kochere District in Ethiopia, and is described as having sweet black tea and floral flavours with medium body and acidity. It was randomly selected by my husband, James.
When I first smelled the coffee grounds I found them to be quite woody and rich, in such a way that coffee beans are a form of gold, and I imagined myself in a rainforest. The aroma of the coffee, once made, was citrusy and smoky like a bonfire – like you get with lapsang tea. Drinking it, I found it to be gentle, and almost treacly, with a peculiar tickling on my tongue which was almost like drinking a very light airy lager. I am still not sure if I liked this particular sensation as it stayed with me long after drinking the coffee. Adding milk, I discovered a cinnamon sweetness.
I can imagine drinking this coffee around a summer’s campfire, or used in a cinnamon cappuccino with whipped cream on top (I hate to say that, but I can!). At this stage, I am not sure I would buy this coffee again, but it may yet grow on me. I give it 3 stars.