My Fave Coffees So Far…

The year seems to be going through pretty fast and I thought about documenting what has delighted my taste buds so far this year in the World of Coffee. First up, was the Colombian Gaitania, roasted by then St Ali London (now Workshop Coffee), which I picked up at their sister store, Sensory Lab (now Workshop Coffee) on Wigmore Street. I fell for this coffee when I first tasted it on an aeropress in Clerkenwell and made sure that before I left London I picked up a bag to take back to Cape Town with me. I featured it as a coffee at my coffee tasting event at Escape Caffe and then enjoyed the remainder at home on an aeropress. It didn’t disappoint on every brew, displaying a clean caramel light acid taste. I used this coffee to induct my 12 year old daughter on the pleasure of drinking coffee on an aeropress and she too was pleasantly surprised by the clean sweetish taste she experienced. I have to confess,  I can’t see many coffees beating my experience of this bean this year, at least on the aeropress.



A close second has to be the Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Konga, sourced by Union Hand Roasted Coffee (another top London based roaster). I’m glad to report that they now have a satellite shop or should I say “Field Office” in true UN lingo, in Cape Town, down the road from my caffe, Escape Caffe on Bree Street, Cape Town. At the forefront of their Cape Town branch, located on Buiten Street, is Gerald, the main roaster, who had 4 months of training at Union Hand Roasted in London before being sent back to Cape Town. When I told Gerald I wanted something special for my Coffee Tasting Event/ cupping sessions for customers (held on the 1st Saturday of every month), he highly recommended this bean. At first, I was wondering why I loved this bean so much – light, sweet finish, hint of caramel, sour berry and pleasant + soothing effects. It should come as no surprise then that I have featured this bean on 2 occasions. On the second, I even had the pleasure of sampling the bean roasted in 2 different ways – sample roast 10 days before and large batch 5 days earlier – subtle difference but the 10 day old roasted got the edge for me as I felt it was more developed and had a cleaner/more refined finish. For the record, the Yirgacheffe Konga is washed. The taste profile for this bean – well! Again, I asked my 12 year old daughter to taste and give me her profile “caramel and hint of blueberry Daddy” – well you never, the taste profile on Union Hand Roasted website is blueberry caramel – Wow! My daughter’s going to be better than me.

I can’t leave without at least mentioning a Square Mile Coffee bean and here we have Rwanda Musasa Rushashi. Described as having a hint of graprefruit acidity, I felt this was more pronounced only when brewing on the French Press. Other taste profiles, reminded me of black berries and hints of dark organic chocolate. In conclusion, an unusual bean and perhaps not everyones “cup of coffee” but that’s what makes it interesting and after all not all coffees are supposed to taste the same. I preferred this coffee after a heavy meal and for livening the senses.




A Complex Espresso & A Refreshing Coffee

That’s the way I’d like to describe the coffees I got from Espresso Lab, Cape Town, when I visited a few weeks ago. Of course I drank them a while back, but these are just my notes on my experience. Actually, Espresso Lab describe their espresso blend as “a complex blend bringing out blackcurrant licorice and chocolate flavours with a snappy finish”, so I’m just agreeing with them. There’s no doubt it had a complex taste and I really got to taste the chocolate flavours with a snappy finish, but I can’t vouch for the blackcurrant one.

In any case, the espresso blend consists of arabic beans from Brazil, Costa Rica and Ethiopia, so it really is a blend, mixing three different regions. Yes ! Costa Rica is not in South America, but in Central America. For me, it still confirms that I really enjoy an espresso blend when it has Brazilian arabica beans added, so I was pleased with the espresso, when I got it right. And on that last note, I want to go back to the word “complex”. Using all the techniques of making espresso including timing the pour, this coffee rarely followed the rules. Yes ! out of a 250g bag, which equates to about 16 cups of coffee for me (I only drink double espressos and that happens twice a day and I am assuming 15g of coffee per double cup – complex isn’t it ?), and after adjusting for the 30ml of espresso in 25-28 seconds, I only got about 7 good espressos. Of course everytime the pour wasn’t consistent with the rules, I adjusted the settings, then it will work in the morning and not in the afternoon and vice versa, hmmmm ! I guess better luck next time and perhaps a bigger bag of 500g to do lots of tweaking until I get a pour right every other time. So enough of the rambling and on to the other coffee.

Sometimes it is said “after struggle comes ease” and so it was with their Rwandan blend. Initially, I bought this to satisfy my daily thirst for “real” coffee when I was in Cape Town, extracting it for French Press in the mornings and evenings, however, without proper scales to measure the exact dosage, I just thought “OK ! not bad”, however, on return to Vienna, I got the scales out and made it in my lovely Bodum Colombia and Wow ! what a difference. Who said tools don’t work ? It definitely did on this occasion because it was such a lovely brew and the one word that instantly came to mind was… “REFRESHING”. On tastes, I got the red berries and fruity flavours, which I think really make French press coffee wonderful for the palate.

Au revoir.

I’m Drinking Origin Coffee Roasting coffees….

Well ! I couldn’t walk into my favourite cafe on the African continent, Origins Coffee Roasting in Cape Town and not buy some freshly roasted coffee. I was already enticed when I visited the new cafe upstairs and walked into order my coffee, where I noticed that at the back of the shop, was like a coffee roasting plant. Bags and bags of green coffees waiting to be roasted, placed in bags and either served to lucky customers as espresso, cappuccino, etc or sold to customers like me, who want to take the experience home.

So, feeling a bit adventurous, I decided to try two different coffees. I remember that last time I tried a Rwandan coffee, was actually from Origins Coffee Roasting and I had a pleasant experience, so when I was offered a Rwandan Mugombwa, I more or less seized the opportunity. For the next one, I was looking for something to satisfy my afternoon thirst for French Press coffee only and I was offered an El Salvador El Borbollon. However, I did have to quiz the barista that was advising me on coffees about when the coffees were roasted, because of late, I’ve just had too many “too fresh coffee” experiences whereby I buy this fresh bag of coffee that I have been promised has been de-gassing for a few days, only to get home and realise that the coffee still needs some resting time – have I lost you ? Well ! check out my post of 8 August 2008 for more details. 

In any case, I was promised that the coffee had been resting for 2-3 days and so should be ready for the grind, BUT I was nevertheless suspicious. As soon as I got home, I have to confess, that the coffee was in deed a bit too fresh, meaning that when extracted, even neatly packed into my bottomless filter, bubbles appear, resulting in splashes as evident by what I call this “dirty espresso” shot.

The taste was of course not as good as it could have been, but when the coffee had calmed down a bit, about 3 days later, it came out beautifully, as witnessed by this shot

Just look at those lovely dark coffee streaks blending in with the crema, hmmmm ! OK! so what did it taste like – I detected a vanilla, nutty and earthy taste and when blended with milk, a milk chocolate taste could be detected.


Ironically, although I bought the El Salvador El Borbollon for French Press, I found it much nicer as a milk based espresso, with hints of vanilla and milk chocolate – smooth and creamy too. I didn’t have that many challenges with getting the right grind as I opened this bag about a week to 10 days after it would have been roasted.

If you live in South Africa, try and get your coffees from Origins.

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