The shops, roasters, methods and alternatives that should be influencing your morning cup
It’s official, you’re no longer allowed to drink that instant coffee you’ve got at the back of the cupboard. Yeah, we know, the 110% extra free was an easy sell, but look closer at the label, ‘roast and ground coffee [5%]’. Five per cent. Would you want to eat a lasagne that was five per cent beef? No you would not. We’ve got good news, there’s alternatives. It has never been easier to brew wonderful tasting coffee at home. Equally there’s a great selection of independent coffee shops serving up delicious brews and paying their taxes whilst they do it. We’ve put together a handy guide, compiling our favourite independent coffee shops, international roasters, home brew methods and even a nod to cold brew for a cooler summer coffee option.
Our Favourite Shops
92 Degrees Coffee
Introduce yourselves We are 92 Degrees, coffee shop and roastery (we source, blend, roast and package all of our own coffees in store). What coffee products are sold in store? We have traditional espresso drinks as well as a selection of V60 filters on offer to drink. We also have some awesome ColdBrew options (roasted and slow-brewed in house). We sell all of our coffee by retail in-store (and online) and have some great brew kits to use with it, V60, Chemex, Aeropress and we’re looking to add more over the coming months. What coffee fads need to die? We have a core of great hand-roasted small batch coffee and have grown what we offer from there. We have tried not to do anything too ‘fad-y’, I personally think that coffee should be appreciated for its inherent flavours rather than by additives like syrups. I can also appreciate that being able to extract complex tastes from an espresso isn’t going to be top of everybody’s priority list, so we do have syrups on our menu for anyone who wants a bit of extra caramel in their coffee. Where do you think think coffee culture is going next? Coffee culture is such an ambiguous thing, it means different things to different people. If we are talking about market trends, then we have seen a shift towards higher quality sourcing and ethical practices being prioritised over cost by consumers. People are willing to spend a little more on a cup of coffee when it can be traced back to the farm it was grown on. People like to know that it has been sourced ethically. Locally, I think espresso drinks are always going to be our core business (people who want a fast coffee to get them through the morning or to work or home) but people are developing a lot more interest in slower brewed filter coffees and brew kits to make their favourite coffee at home.
Introduce yourselves My name is Harry van Breemen and I’m one of the owners at Moose Coffee. We grew from a love of the American/Canadian breakfast culture and have spent the past ten years perfecting what we do in our short order menu and coffee. Over the last ten years we have opened four stores across Liverpool and Manchester and are opening our first Moose Express in Piccadilly Station later this year. What coffee products are sold in store? We sell plenty of coffee in our stores, all made from our own Fairtrade Moose blend created when we first opened the doors back in 2006. Both our house and special blend Fairtrade coffees are roasted locally and use 100% Arabica beans from South America. We also use imported high quality lever coffee machines which achieve a better more intense espresso due to the unique extraction profile. This allows us to manage and extend the pressure being pulled through the machine. The machines are also mechanical which gives more consistency. It delivers a rich, smooth coffee which you can also get to take away and brew at home. What coffee fads need to die? Anything that takes more than three words to order. At what point is a ‘Caramel Macchiato, Venti, Skim, Extra Shot, Extra-Hot, Extra-Whip, Sugar-Free’ considered a true coffee anymore? Where do you think coffee culture is going next? Coffee culture is only getting stronger. It’s awesome to see such a thriving industry built around coffee. Trends move and change as fads come and go. We like to focus on what we know, find a great product, use good equipment and make sure our staff can consistently deliver it, however long the queue!
Introduce yourself Root Coffee is a speciality coffee shop located in Liverpool City Centre. At Root we only use beans from the top roasters around the world and we aim to bring out the full potential of each and every bean. Apart from the sheer cup quality, we aim to be progressive in every other way. This month, one of our baristas, Kacper, will be going on a six month placement to a top speciality coffee shop in Beijing, Soloist Coffee, in order to experience coffee culture from a different perspective. What coffee products do you sell in store? For espresso based drinks, apart from the house espresso beans, we always keep one guest espresso on the menu at any time, normally with a rather different profile. Filter-wise most of the beans are roasted by non-UK based roasters, for product differentiation and diversification. In terms of serving, we choose the most suitable brewing methods accordingly, from V60, Aeropress and Chemex, based on which beans we are using. We do this in order to heighten and bring out the bean’s unique characteristics and flavour, in order to reflect the bean itself and its region of origin. What coffee fads need to die? Whether it is sugar or syrup, extra hot milk or a venti size latte, they all serve their own special purpose and are all there for very unique and varied reasons. I can’t really think of any coffee fads that need to die, I am not saying fads won’t die, the way we drink and consume coffee will change and mature over time but we don’t need to kill anything off necessarily. Having said that, I do feel many of those types of coffee can be done better or approached from another angle, for example, Maxwell Colonna (UK Barista Champion 2012 and 2014) is working on a speciality-grade capsules project (think Nespresso, Dolce Gusto etc). I think that would be a very good thing. I believe how developed the coffee industry is, should not be defined by its highest quality product but by its lowest, and if we can even manage to serve the so called ‘inferior’ capsules on a speciality grade level, as a coffee lover, I think that’s a bright and exciting future for coffee. Where do you think coffee culture is heading next? Home brewing, I would say. I feel the coffee industry as a whole will improve most when both ends of the chain are improving and refining themselves further. These ends are the coffee bean growers and coffee consumers. On the consumer’s end, once the understandings and recognitions of specialty coffee reach a certain level, the demand for home brewing is inevitable. Soon, making a cup of specialty grade coffee at home, will be just as common and easy as pouring a bottle of fine wine stored on your shelf, and just as accessible too, like instant coffee is today – maybe even replacing it.
Our Favourite Roasters
Somerset From humble beginnings selling limited batches at farmers markets, Roundhill founder Eddie Twitchett has rapidly built up one of our favourite small specialty roasters. Impressive work for a young team. Roundhill test-roast each coffee and allow it to rest and it is then brewed in a variety of ways to ensure maximum flavour and quality. Their Kamwangi AB is a delicious bag in both filter and espresso form.
Lisbon Fabrica was formed in 2015 when its founders decided it was time for Portugal to get to know specialty coffee. Independent from the root, they accompany their coffee from the harvesting of the coffee cherry on the producer’s farms until the arrival of the beans, green, pure, unaltered. Their Simbi filter bag is not only delicious, but also one with an impressive backstory. In the Simbi farm’s first year of cupping, 2003, they placed 9th in the Cup Of Excellence. A remarkable feat for their first year and for Rwandan coffee as a whole.
Toronto Pilot are a pretty special roasting outfit. Not only are their roasts full of flavour, but they put a huge emphasis on the people side. Their ‘direct trade model’ means going to source, meeting farmers, meeting growers, touring the farms and hashing out a deal in person, thus making sure the money goes to the source. They’ve also been extremely innovative, especially with their cold brew coffees. Our personal favourite ‘Big Bro’ is no longer on the website, but we’ve heard great things about their Corrego Lavrinhas from Brazil.
Budapest Established in 2013 and a leading micro-roastery in Hungary, Casino Mocca guarantee the quality of their roast with a computer controlled system and as a result their coffees are used at a host of our favourite coffee shops across Europe. With notes of passion fruit, pomelo and blackcurrant, their Kenyan Kiunyu bag is a great filter only bag.
How to Brew at Home
Old faithful. The classic glass and plunger immersion method (where the coffee sits and brews in the water). Cheap, relatively quick and probably the most common upgrade from a cup of instant. The method requires a course grit style of grind and often creates a rounder and softer tasting coffee.
The french press 2.0. Only invented in 2005, the Aeropress reinvents plunging with an airtight tube that sits atop your cup, pushing the coffee through either filter paper or a thin metal filter. Uses a finer grind than the french press and depending on preparation, can provide a much more intensive taste.
V60 – aka. the Kalita Wave
Often referred to as a V60 due to its ‘V’ shape and sixty degree angled sides, basically a filter paper holder that sits on your cup . The first of our two drip methods. Unlike the previous two immersion methods, the water is passed through the coffee which allows the control of heat, time and stirring, all of which affect taste. Filters also tend to be finer. allowing for a purer-tasting cup.
The big one. Invented in 1941 by Peter Schlumbohm and often described as one of the ‘best designed product of modern times’, it is included in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Another pour-over method, filter paper sits atop the flask the coffee is first moistened (a process called blooming), before then having the desired amount of water poured over it. Arguably provides the purest taste of all four methods.