Cup North 2014 Part I

An espresso being pulled on Foundry's Londinium lever espresso machine at Cup North.In the previous Saturday Supplement, I presented a round-up of Cup North, Manchester’s two-day coffee festival. This week I dive into the weekend in more detail. I could easily publish my adventures over five different Saturday Supplements, but at that rate, we’d soon be at Christmas, so I’ve decided to split it into two posts, with five main themes: Old Friends, New Roasters, Coffee Cuppings, Miscellaneous & Street Food. Part I, this post, includes Old Friends & New Roasters, while Part II, out next weekend, will have Coffee Cuppings, Miscellaneous & Street Food.

Old Friends covers a pair of roasters I’ve previously visited and one roasters I’ve never met, but whose coffee I’ve been drinking for a while now. This particular roaster also roasts some of my all-time favourite espresso blends. In contrast, New Roasters covers (some) of the roasters that I ran into the first time at Cup North. Completely by accident, they were all from either Yorkshire (three) or Lancashire (two).

The two sections have their own galleries and each has a short write-up as well.

You can see what I got up to after the Old Friends gallery below.

  • Starting off with some old friends there's, TAKK, with the components of its espresso blend.
  • And roasters, Clifton Coffee Company, with Chris from Small St Espresso pressed into duty.
  • I started Sunday morning with a flat white in JOCO Cups, prepared by Oli of TAKK.
  • I love it when the latte art holds to the bottom of the cup.
  • Next stop, all the way from Glasgow, Dear Green Coffee.
  • I loved the dinky one-group La Marzocco.
  • However, today it was the turn of these beauties.
  • Keep Cup, who first met Lisa of Dear Green at the London Coffee Festival, gets ready.
  • First grind the coffee.
  • Then place it in the Aeropress.
  • Next, pour in the water...
  • ... not forgetting to rotate the Aeropress as you do so.
  • All done. No need to stir after all that rotating.
  • Now comes the important part...
  • ... the invert!
  • And finally, press.
  • C'mon Lisa, put your back into it!
  • All done. And after all that effort, I drank it without taking a photo!
  • Final stop, Grumpy Mule, who I'd not met before, despite drink its coffee all over the place!
  • Two of Grumpy Mule's local(ish) customers, Simon, Coffee Kabin & Alex, La Bottega Milanese
  • Grumpy Mule was running a competition to win this hamper.
  • All you had to do was make the 'perfect' cup of coffee. First select your coffee...
  • Then your method of choice (Aeropress, V60, Chemex or Cafetiere).
  • Weigh your beans...
  • ... set the grinder, then grind...
  • ... and off you go. This isn't me, by the way.
  • Nice pouring.
  • Almost done.
  • Now just let it filter through.
  • And the final check: the TDS metre.
  • Put the sample in (this is actually my sample in there) and press 'Go'.
  • The outcome is plotted on the a graph on the wall. Can you see me? (I'm BCS).
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Old Friends

I’ll start off Old Friends with some new friends, the wonderful folk at TAKK who were there in force. Somehow I managed to miss that they were offering the chance to sample the constituent parts of their house-espresso, NorthProjekt, roasted for them by old friends, Clifton Coffee Company (see, I got there in the end!) who’d come all the way from Bristol. I also got thrown by another old friend, Chris, of Small St Espresso, who was moonlighting for Clifton, which was sharing the stand with TAKK.

More old friends were there in the shape of Dear Green Coffee, who’d come down all the way from Glasgow. Lisa, of Dear Green, was joined by Made by Knock, purveyors of many fine things, but in this case, hand-grinders. I’d already become acquainted with the lovely Hausgrind at the London Coffee Festival and was delighted to learn that this has been joined by a smaller, lighter version, the Feldgrind. In a moment of madness, I think I may have promised to buy one…

As well as getting Lisa to make me some coffee, she also took the chance to bend my ear about her coffee festival, the appropriately-named Glasgow Coffee Festival, coming to Glasgow on 6th December.

Finally in the old friends category is Grumpy Mule, who I’d never actually met before, but who roast some of my favourite espresso blends. I was really pleased to catch up with them and meet Howard, one of the roasters. Grumpy Mule was running a competition to make the “perfect” cup of coffee. This involved choosing your coffee and preparation method (V60, Aeropress, Chemex or Cafetiere) and then making the coffee. Grumpy Mule provided scales, hot water and a grinder, plus advice, if you wanted it.

The “perfect” element came in the form of a TDS (total dissolved solids) meter which (in theory) can tell you whether you’ve over- or under- extracted your coffee, with a “perfect” score indicating the optimum extraction. It was all a bit tongue-in-cheek since the ultimate test of the perfect cup of coffee is how it tastes! You can see how I got on in the gallery; all I’m saying here is that I didn’t win.

(For those who are interested, my non-winning recipe was 15g of Kenyan Nyeri Ngandu AA Washed, 225g of water, inverted Aeropress, 90 seconds brewing and 20 second plunge, all of which resulted in a TDS of 1.41. And yes, it tasted great!).

New Roasters

  • First of the new roasters was Hope & Glory from Hull.
  • I'd had the Mad Hatter espresso blend before, so was pleased to see some filter roasts.
  • Here's Rebekah making a V60 of the Nicaragua Cerro de Jesus.
  • Just need to let it filter through now.
  • She also made one for me and KeepCup.
  • And here it is. I also got a bag of the Ethiopian Qorema to take home with me.
  • Next up were Sheffield's Foundry Coffee Roasters and a lovely Londinium lever machine.
  • The business end of the Londinium.
  • Here's Callum, who made me a lovely espresso.
  • Foundry had an Augustino Forest bean from Columbia...
  • ... and the prototype roast, an Ethiopian Yirgacheffe natural, which I went for.
  • First step, weigh the ground coffee...
  • ... then tamp...
  • .. then attach to the machine.
  • Down comes the lever...
  • ... and off we go!  I'm always surprised by how long it is before coffee comes out.
  • Here comes the espresso. Quick adjustment of the position of the cup!
  • Look at that pour...
  • I love a good, bottomless portafiller.  This is the first time I've got a good shot of one.
  • Lovely.
  • Callum gives the espresso a thorough swirl around the cup before serving.
  • Talking of service, look at this: a glass of water!
  • And the coffee itself.
  • JOCO Cup also wanted to get in on the act, so we tried it through the Aeropress as well.
  • Next stop, local roaster, Passion Fruit.
  • After the delights of Foundry's Ethiopian, I was up for trying Passion Fruit's Dumerso natural.
  • Sadly no behind-the-scenes shots here, but JOCO Cup was happy with outcome.
  • Slightly further afield (all the way from Yorkshire) we have the Bean Brothers.
  • As well as an espresso blend called Derek, the brothers also brew an espresso stout!
  • A shot of Derek being prepared...
  • ... and here in the cup.
  • Next up, another shot of Derek. This one is for me.
  • Being the pedant that I am, this one is in a glass!
  • I like watching espresso being prepared in a glass.
  • You can really see the way that the crema develops.
  • Gorgeous, isn't it?
  • All done. Of course, I then forgot to take a photo of it in the glass... :-(
  • Finally, at the end of the Sunday afternoon, I caught up with J Atkinson.
  • Chemex was on offer...
  • ... but for some reason I was much more taken with the 1960s Faema E61!
  • Lever machines were very much in vogue at Cup North. They are lovely though.
  • My last espresso of the day.
  • Down comes the lever...
  • The all-important last second repositioning of the cup!
  • Almost there...
  • And here it comes.
  • Something I never get tired of, watching espresso extract.
  • Sadly I couldn't quite get low enough to see the bottom of the portafiller.
  • All done!
  • We cheated and posed this shot afterwards.
  • The finished product.
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I started off by tracking down Hope & Glory from Hull, where I caught up with Gina, Rebekah and Sean, who had been good enough to send me some of their Mad Hatter espresso blend earlier in the year. Rebekah made me a V60 of the Cerro de Jesus from Nicaragua which was a lovely sweet and fruity cup. I also got a bag of the Ethiopian Qorema to take home with me.

I paid a visit to Sheffield roasters, Foundry, where I was drawn to the lovely Londinium  lever espresso machine. I was well looked after by Lee & Callum with Callum pulling me a shot of an Ethiopian Yirgacheffe natural which was just out of this world. It had a syrupy mouth-feel and an incredibly sweet, smooth taste. Callum pulled it a little but longer than your traditional third-wave barista, but whatever magic he was weaving, it was excellent. I also tried the same coffee through the Aeropress. To be honest, it was a good cup of coffee, but nowhere near as impressive as the espresso, lacking the wow factor.

Next up was Passion Fruit Coffee, one of the Manchester micro-roasters, who along with Ancoats, Coffee Circle and ManCoCo, produced the bespoke Cup North espresso blend (which is phenomenal by the way!). I tried another Yirgacheffe, this one a Dumerso natural, which, while I liked, was much more acidic and not as sweet as Foundry’s. The fascinating thing I discovered about Passion Fruit is that Shen, the owner, is roasting on a 1920s Whitmee open-flame roaster, making her one of only three roasters in the country using a Whitmee.

Moving back across the Pennines, I tracked down the Bean Brothers from Huddersfield. I met both of the brothers, James and Jeremy, who perhaps have the best logo ever (although that might be my beard talking). They roast their own espresso-blend, which goes by the interesting name of Derek, but perhaps more interestingly, they make an espresso stout. Regularly readers will know that I am not a great alcohol drinker and certainly not a beer drinker, but this was something else and I heartily recommend it!

Finally, I close with J Atkinson & Co, from Lancaster, which has been going since 1837! It’s still very much a family affair, although the business passed out of the hands of the Atkinson family back in 1960. The current owners brought along a restored, 1960s Faema E61 lever espresso machine. It really was a weekend for lever machines! Naturally I was drawn to this lovely beast.

I was also impressed to learn that J Atkinson roasts all its own coffee on a pair of Whitmee open-flame roasters. How amazing is that? We had two of the three roasters in the country who use Whitmee only-flame roasters in the same hall (the third, by the way, is Newcastle’s Pumphrey’s Coffee).

Of course, I had to have an espresso from the Faema, which proved to be a fitting way to end Cup North!


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