Remember the olden days, before we all turned into a bunch of aspirational food/drink-ponces? I do. I remember when, on visiting someone and being offered a tea or coffee, the sight of a jar of Gold Blend was sufficient evidence of your host being a person of taste and no little refinement. "Coffee; thanks". Simpler times. Coffee, in common with just about everything else that goes into a person's mouth and comes out as waste material, has, at the higher end, been subjected to a serious up-lift in quality over the past decade or so, with all manner of cottage industrialists springing up to cater for our allegedly more refined tastes.
Newcastle has, regardless of fads and trends, always been well served by the estimable institution that is Pumphreys. Their unit in the Grainger Market is the source of my regular brew. Italian High Roast for a proper slap round the chops (with milk), or Yirgacheffe for something more refined (without), seeing as you ask. A newer face on the scene is Ouseburn Coffee Company. Impressed with a latte from their stall at Tynemouth market I bought a pack of beans, which were similarly excellent. They're up-selling the fact that their beans are freshly roasted, with roast dates going on every pack. So much for the locals.
Pact Coffee have been popping up in my twitter feed for a while now. Based in Bermondsey in South London, they do a very enticing £1 per bag initial offer, including postage. Further bags are £6.95 for 250g.The website is clean and super easy to use. It's basically a subscription thing, but very flexible. All very well, but what's their mission? Funny you should ask; it is no less than "to get the UK drinking better coffee by making incredible, freshly roasted coffee available to everyone". I signed up and next day not one, but - bonus! - two packs of their espresso blend plopped through my door.
@leejamesburns No problem Lee, our mistake! Sorry about that. We'd love you to pass it on to a friend/family member that loves coffee too.I was so delighted I immediately spilled some of the extra beans over a table, the better to take the following photo.
— Pact Coffee (@pactcoffee) June 4, 2014
Anyway, here's what I did next, which is what I always do when making coffee. This process has been honed over some time and has become quite specific, but only through trial and error, and not any particular knowledge. Am I going wrong? How do you make yours? I'd be interested to know.
- Boil kettle of fresh water. Use some to warm your cup. Meanwhile, grind 20g of beans on the coarsest setting on my Krups thingy. Coffee goes into 1-serve french press.
- About 30 seconds after kettle has come off the boil, pour a dash of water into french press and swill round. I read somewhere that pouring it all in at once can scorch the grounds, you see.
- Top up with water. Give a quick stir. Pop the top on, making sure it's facing the right way.
- Wait about 3 minutes, trying not to forget during that time that you're making a coffee, which will lead to cold coffee and frustration. Plunge slowly. Wait for stray grinds to settle. Pour into heated cup. Milk or no milk, depending on the coffee used, mood etc.
I've thought about getting an espresso machine a bunch of times, but have been put off for the same reason I never make fish and chips at home; the professionals have just got way better tech. I'm not about to buy some £2000 beast, and nor do I want a pale imitation, so lattes and espresso are reserved for when out and about. Any future caffeine-related investment is likely to be in either the recently much-touted Aeropress, or, partly for aesthetic reasons, a Chemex pot.
But look at me digressing; is this Pact coffee actually any good? The quick answer is yes. The slow answer goes as follows.
On opening the pack the aroma is excellent. Familiar rich coffee pong, but also a noticeable tang of acidity. The beans are a much lighter roast than I would normally go for from a "kapow" brew. After grinding, the acidity is still there but now balanced by an almond/marzipan sweetness.
There's an instantly-produced thick layer of froth as water meets ground bean. Is this something to do with freshness of roast? This happened with Ouseburn Coffee Company grinds too, but almost never happens with supermarket stuff.
I tasted with and without milk. Either way, there is satisfying richness despite the fairly light roast, fresh acidity and a very long finish. They reckon it tastes of orange liqueur. Fair enough; there's certainly an excellent balance of sweet/bitter/acidity going on. It's actually quite refreshing to drink. Thumbs up. I'm defo tempted to continue my subscription, especially as they offer varieties that I haven't seen elsewhere.
But don't take my word for it; armed with the code "HELLO", you too can traipse over to their site and suss out if their stuff is to your taste, for just one of your British euros. I can't promise they'll accidentally send you two bags, sorry.
Where are you getting your coffee from, and how are you making it? Comments welcome, comme d'habitude.
ps, I paid my dollar for my coffee. I just thought that you might want to know about what is certainly an excellent introductory deal. And to bang on about coffee for a while.