So there I was, minding my own business at the London Coffee Festival, when I ran into Lisa of Dear Green Coffee, organiser of the Glasgow Coffee Festival. Rather foolishly, I mentioned that I was flying to Japan that week, returning just in time for the festival. Well, said Lisa, in that case, why not bring back some Japanese coffee and we can have a cupping? Why not indeed…
Fast-forward two weeks and there I am in Tokyo, thinking that I really should get do something about my rather spur-of-the-moment agreement to Lisa’s proposal. Fortunately, I’d just embarked on a week’s travelling around Japan, so was able to pick up a rather eclectic mix of Japanese-roasted coffee.
Like my trip, there was no great planning involved in my purchasing, which might explain why I brought back with three Kenyans, two Ethiopians and a pair from Costa Rica. Typically I either bought something I’d tried (such as the Ethiopian I picked up from Kaido Books And Coffee) or I asked for recommendations. With hindsight, I rather wished I’d got some of the aged Kenyan coffee I had at Café de L’Ambre, but alas that thought only came to me five minutes ago…
On Thursday evening, I was fortunate enough to be invited to Leyas to attend the launch of Coffee Break Delirium, a display of artwork by the wonderful Timothy Shaw which will be hanging in Leyas for the rest of the month. The event also doubled as a launch for Assembly, the new roasters/coffee collaboration, who over two new coffees for us to try. Leyas, as part of its regular roaster rotation, will be switching over to Assembly this month, so you can try the coffee first-hand if you want.
You may have come across the work of Tim when he graced the cover of Issue 4 of Caffeine Magazine (which some still consider to the best front cover). He also drew the amazing illustration on the counter at White Mulberries, while his work has graced several other coffee shops.
Assembly, which launched at this year’s London Coffee Festival, is a collaboration between the roaster Volcano Coffee Works and various leading figures in the coffee industry. Assembly was represented by Michael, who I knew from his time with Dunne Frankowski at Sharps, and Nick, who does all the quality testing. They had with them two new coffees from Kenya and Nicaragua.
I celebrated my birthday last weekend by inviting a group of friends down to the closest thing I have to a local, Guildford’s Bar des Arts, for a coffee tasting. I’d originally been given the idea by Lee Hall of Matthew Algie when he did a similar demo at the Caffé Culture Show. There he put two different coffees through a V60 and a Chemex and I was astounded by how different they tasted.
So, when thinking about how I wanted to celebrate my birthday, I could think of nothing better than surrounding myself with some friends and replicating this experiment. I approached Bradley of Horsham Coffee Roaster, who supplies Bar des Arts, and he provided three very different coffees for us to try. Meanwhile, I brought along my trusty Aeropress (and one of the guests, Richard, brought his down) to go with Bar des Arts pour-over filters and cafetiere.
So, the scene was set for an afternoon of good company, coffee tasting and cake (although, very disappointingly, I seem to have taken exactly no pictures of the cake!).
On Monday I was lucky enough to be invited along to a coffee tasting at my favourite Guildford Coffee Spot, Bar des Arts. I’ve always liked the ambience at Bar des Arts, but Sara, the owner, wants to take the coffee up to the next level. To this end she invited local roaster, Bradley, from Horsham Coffee Roaster, to come along with some samples of his blends and single origin beans. I was asked pop down to help her and one of the baristas, Jon, to try them out!
Note that strictly speaking this wasn’t a cupping; we weren’t taste-testing lots of coffee, just trying a few of Bradley’s samples (three pour-overs and two espresso blends) to see how they shaped up. We were also trying out Bar des Arts new brew bar, with its ceramic filters, for the first time. Finally, we ambushed a few unsuspecting regular customers and got their opinions too!