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Step21 - #12roasterschallenge

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I'll start with Smith Street Roasters of Sheffield before the bag is finished.

 

smith_st_latumba.jpg

 

All drunk as immersion via Bonavita Immersion brewer (similar to Clever) or V60

 

This is the first coffee i've tried from Smith St. as well as from DR Congo. It is a light roast for filter.

 

Tastewise it is quite unusual with tamerillo (tree tomato) the main flavour. The aroma is of tomato but the taste of it is not easy to describe. Think of drinking a sweet tomato with a musky fruit chaser.

 

I've enjoyed it greatly and would certainly try Smith St. again on the basis of this.

 

A couple of negative points:

Postage is pretty steep £3.20 for a 250g bag compared to many competitors - but it is probably only just covering costs. A 2nd class option would be good to have and like many roasters if you buy in bulk then free postage is available.

 

There were a few beans (4 or 5) in the bag that i discarded as they looked under developed compared to the others and would not break open under firm pressure. I don't think they would have caused any harm (certainly not stones) but might have negatively impacted the brew. It always pays to carefully check the beans going into your grinder.

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First new bag of the year. Staying in Sheffield with Foundry.

 

I'm playing it safe with this one - i've used Foundry many times before and always had superb beans and service. I had been going to order the Burundi but i was swayed by the taste descriptors for this Ethiopian Moata. 15% forum discount, £2 postage, roasted yesterday and through the letterbox this morning. Can't say fairer than that.

 

foundry_moata.jpg

 

Looking forward to opening this one very soon.

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I've been brewing this via V60 for a few days now.

 

First couple of brews were underwhelming. Getting a lot creaminess but little fruit and slightly sour aftertaste. TDS at 1.30% which is usually good.

 

I coarsened the grind 1 notch on the Hausgrind and bingo! Brews are now lovely and sweet, buttery mouthfeel, peachy fruit. Interestingly TDS still 1.30%...

 

I'd thoroughly recommend this bean for brewed.

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clifton_mexican.jpg

Gone with Clifton Coffee of Bristol for my next bag. The primary reason being they stock Dutch weave Hario V60 02 filter papers which are hard to find at the moment and i was almost out of them. I've bought a few coffees from Clifton and they have always been excellent. Ordered Wed evening and came this morning with a reasonable £2.75 1st class postage.

 

I liked the sound of this Mexican. I had some lovely Mexican greens from Rave a while back which really surprised me as to their sweetness and peachy flavour. This though might be the first pro roasted Mexican i've tried.

 

On first brew these are not dissimilar. It's a big coffee with a really big deep caramel toffee finish, full mouthfeel, great sweetness and citric/peachy fruit. Seems to be a hint of blackcurrant in there as well. Really very nice.

 

Bag finished. Great coffee.

Edited by Step21
update

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machina_espresso_kenyan.jpg

 

This is a Kenyan Karindundu AB Washed coffee roasted by Machina Espresso for sale in their Edinburgh shop (not mail order)

 

I was hugely impressed by the Columbian coffee i had from Machina in December which was the first time i'd tried their own roasted coffee. Their roasting is a fairly new venture using a Probat to roast coffees for making drinks in their cafes and some for sale.

 

This one is also very impressive. Great balance with sweet tropical fruit acidity - not as "big" as many Kenyans. It has a delightful aroma and taste brewed by pourover or immersion.

 

It's a top coffee to start off February. These 2 coffees are up there with the best i've had. If you can get to their shop i'd strongly recommend trying their own roasted coffee.

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3 coffees to add for February

 

1. Ethiopian Yirg - Chelelektu Natural from HasBean

2. Ethiopian Yirg - Konga , Natural from The Bean Shop in Perth

3. Costa Rica - Aguilera Brothers - Villa Sarchi ,Honey roasted from Machina in Edinburgh

 

feb_coffees.jpg

 

I have enjoyed all of them as V60/Kalita Wave. I use a Biarro AltoAir drip brewer which can take various filter types V60, Kalita 185, Chemex

 

The HasBean Yirg has an unusual tropical bubblegum flavour, the Perth Yirg is quite different with strawberries and a well developed body. Neither are obvious naturals or anything like traditional Yirgs fro flavour (No tea notes). My preference is for the Konga. I've not had coffee from either of these roasters for a good while and it is nice to find something so good locally.

 

The Machina Costa Rican is the pick of the bunch. Extraordinarily sweet muscovado sugar with a delicious fruit acidity. Tasting notes suggest cherries/tangerine but i find it hard to pick either of these out for definite. Delicious. Machina are fast becoming my favourite roaster. That's 3 coffees i've had from them now and all have been top notch.

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March coffees (brewed using either a Biarro AltoAir with V60/Kalita Wave/Chemex papers or Bonavita Immersion brewer)

 

rwandan.jpg

 

A completely new roaster to me. Lovely Rwandan natural from James - tip passed on by @Mrboots2u

 

After some simply stunning initial brews i found that this settled to being just great after a few days! It seemed to lose it's initial "naturalness" and majored in sugary sweetness. I was doing a fair bit of experimenting and found it sweet at all extractions, the best ones being around 22%EY. The nicest natural i've had for ages and much better IMO than most of the LSOL naturals i've had in the past.

 

bailies.jpg

 

Another new roaster - Bailies from NI. This is a washed Guatemalan that the cherries have been allowed to grow to super-ripe before picking. The honey sweetness was evident but the forest fruit and hazelnut eluded me. It did have some nice fruitiness but i wouldn't have picked out forest fruit. I found it pretty hard to extract compared to standard and a lot of my brews were on the low side nearer 18% or less. Sweet and delicate.

Not a ringing endorsement. Decent enough but fairly expensive. Maybe try another coffee at some other point for comparison.

Postage was cheap £1 (only option i could see) and very very slow.

 

bali.jpg

 

These coffees from Bali were a present from my son who had just visited. (Not sure what to do about the Kopi Luwak - less said the better but i've not yet tried it and not sure if i will).

However, the other coffee is very interesting. A darker roast than i would normally try but the flavours are pretty complex. It has almost a peaty smokiness like a whisky, some caramels, some turkish delight and spices. It's naturally very sweet - can't imagine adding sugar as per the packet.

It's pretty wierd stuff but grows on you!

 

Apart from these i've been filling in with odd small batches of home roast.

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April started off with these two (all as brewed)

 

April_coffees.jpg

 

Machina Espresso Columbian Finca Bella Lili (Harold Ceron) washed, varietals Castillo and Columbia and Kenyan Zawadi Peaberry roasted by The Bean Shop in Perth.

 

The Columbian is a very light roast and on the less soluble side. I found the range of tasty extraction to be on the low side at 18.5 to 19% EY. It was difficult to extract much higher. When good it was nice and sweet and you get the tasting notes (although the raspberry didn't come through much for me). Quite tea like and delicate. Multiple pours via V60 gave best results.

I have preferred other coffees from this roaster.

This is the type of roast that is very skilled but will divide opinion. It is so easy to get wrong and when you lose the sweetness it is pretty tart.

 

The Kenyan was fine. Nothing spectacular but decent. Nice body and orange acidity. Not a fashionable hipster roaster, but someone who has been doing this for a long time and knows what he's doing and has a faithful following in the Perth area. Tends to concentrate on medium roasted stuff rather than the lighter side but usually has an African available that is a bit lighter.

 

Next up and the one i'm still drinking is an Ethiopian Yirg roasted by CraftHouse Coffee. It's a natural and an experimental lot and exceptionally fruity. I've has some corking brews from this. 19.5% to 20% EY seems to be best. Anything else i've tried has lost the sweetness and it can become a bit tart. But when good it is exceptional. Silky mouthfeel, chocolatey body, berries and cherries with cranberry. I've been using my new Brewista Smart Dripper with this (Kalita Wave 185 clone).

 

First time i've tried CHC. Bags are 200g rather than 250g, flat £1.50 postage 1st class, and a 10% first order discount. Fitted nicely through the letterbox. Well worth a shot IMO. I'll definitely try them again.

 

CHC_yirg.jpg

 

Apart from these i've been doing my usual small batches of artisan home roast while i wait (impatiently...) for my Ikawa home roaster. I've got a lovely bag of greens - Kenyan from Rave that is full of blackcurrant and jasmine. I also have a bag of Brazilian greens that i wasn't too keen on as a SO but have blended nicely with some left over Columbian.

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First time trying these roasters

1. Smith St Roasters - Sheffield

2. James Gourmet

3. Bailies - Belfast

4. Jambe Asti - Bali

5. Craft House Coffee - Sussex

6. Silver Oak - Ely

 

May coffee

 

May_coffee.jpg

 

2 new coffees this month:

 

The first was Brazilian Fazenda Pantano a pulped natural yellow bourbon from CraftHouse Coffee. I'd been impressed with last months Ethiopian and decided to try them again to see if they could work some magic on my disinterest in beans Brazilian.

Alas no... It was bog standard Brazilian with chocolate and cacoa nibs, never got the promised orange acidity or hazelnut. Very similar to some Brazilian pulped naturals i've had from HasBean IMM's in the past.

 

Second was a new roaster to me Silver Oak of Cambridgeshire. This was Virgin Mountain from Papua New Guinea, Eastern Highlands. A medium light roast with typica and Arusha varietals. Tasting notes point to a thick syrupy mouthfeel, high sweetness with muscovado sugar and notes of dark skinned cherry.

 

My first few brews were via the Brewista (aka Kalita Wave) and were somewhat disapointing, i couldn't seem to strike a good balance between body, acidity and sweetness at standard extraction levels. Moving on to the Bonavita Immersion paid handsome dividends. 20 min steep. Suddenly it was very very good with all these elements in harmony as it was later in the V60. It's a very interesting taste, pretty unusual. It has that muscovado sweetness and definitely some fruit skin acidity. Not cherry per se, but kind of cherry like maybe also with a bit of tomato skin. I thought there was a hint of tamarillo in there. Never really got the syrupy mouthfeel but i tend to brew with a lower than average brew ratio. Possibly my first coffee from PNG, can't seem to remember any others.

 

Ordering from Silver Oak was easy enough and prices decent. The bag was £6.25 but postage was £2.80 and 2nd class, so it took a while to arrive. I did notice that £2.90 was the cost on the parcel, so they are covering costs. Pretty sure they could improve on this and get it through the letterbox like other roasters for less cost.

 

Would i try them again? Yes. The coffee was excellent so i'll be sure to give them another go.

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First time trying these roasters

1. Smith St Roasters - Sheffield

2. James Gourmet

3. Bailies - Belfast

4. Jambe Asti - Bali

5. Craft House Coffee - Sussex

6. Silver Oak - Ely

7. Williams & Johnston - Leith, Edinburgh

 

June coffees

june_coffees.jpg

 

W & J are a micro roastery based in Leith, Edinburgh where they have a cafe (never been).

They focus on roasting a small number of different beans at any one time. At the time of purchasing they had 3 SO's and an SO espresso. Prices are relatively expensive at around £8 to £11 a bag. Delivery is excellent. Quick, 1st class at £1.71 inside a solid cardboard envelope that fits through the letterbox.

 

I tried 2 of their coffess this month (brewed only)

 

1. Rosa Abad - Ecuador - washed Caturra, typica, pacas, altitude 1710m - tasting notes of apricot, almond and blossom honey.

This coffee comes from the Zamora-Chinchipe part of Ecuador where coffees tend to be organic but rarely Arabica.

 

A stunning coffee and so far my favourite of the year. Honey sweet, fruity, apricot with a toblerone type body. Moreish.

 

2. Adado - Ethiopia - Yirg - washed heirloom varietals , altitude 1780 - 1860m - tasting notes of crisp pear, bergamot and jasmine florals

 

Another very good coffee from January's harvest. Tea like Yirg's are not my favourite in general. This one is very nice though. The body is tea like and the fruit varies from sweet pear to crisp Braeburn type apple. The florals are noticeable but i didn't really pick up on the bergamot/jasmine (a good thing from my point of view). It's delicate and refreshing.

I changed my brew water (due to my usual bottled being unobtainable) and noticed with 100% Waitrose Essentials (Stretton Hills) a noticeable drop in overall sweetness and more crisp apple (slight effervescence) as opposed to the sweet pear.

 

I will most definitely try them again. The focus on quality is noticeable.

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First time trying these roasters

1. Smith St Roasters - Sheffield

2. James Gourmet

3. Bailies - Belfast

4. Jambe Asti - Bali

5. Craft House Coffee - Sussex

6. Silver Oak - Ely

7. Williams & Johnston - Leith, Edinburgh

8. Unorthodox Roasters - Kinross

 

July

july_coffee.jpg

 

This months new roaster is a new cafe/roastery about 12 miles or so from me. Probably my nearest roaster. Not sure how long they have been open but pretty recent.

If you are heading north from Edinburgh it's just off the M90 motorway and may be a better option than Kinross motorway services for a decent coffee.

 

They had a large variety of beans on sale - most seemed to be about 2 weeks post roast. Prices are relatively steep and seemed to average around £8 for a 200g bag. Online ordering available, don't know about postage. They seem to give each bean a marketing name. The one i chose is bizarrely named " Soulwax IPA" which suggests beer to me. I'm assuming that this is the unorthodox bit.

 

I chose an washed Ethiopian from smallholders from the Magarrisa Lot 2 washing station - heirloom varietals. Taste descriptors Floral, Strawberry, Cream.

 

Ultimately this was in my opinion a poor offering. It had sweetness and some red fruit and a gone off cream type taste. Really didn't like it much. Whether this was the roast profile or just a poor bean selection i'm not sure. I may try another bean at some point seeing as they are local but i'll not be beating a path to their door. Far better value to be had elsewhere sticking with orthodox roasters.

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August saw me try two new (to me) roasters from Bristol

 

9. Extract Coffee - Rwanda Kilimbi #903 washed Red Bourbon (blood orange, red apple, cashew nut). Delivery was included in price and was quick and letterbox friendly.

 

Brewed as immersion and pourover. A little bit disappointing tbh, had better Rwandans than this one. Picked up the blood orange on a few brews but was generally underwhelmed.

 

10. Two Day roasters.

 

Interesting this one. Lots of options on choosing blends, a few SO's and options on how much to order with a flat postage of £1.50

 

I ordered 100g of two Ethiopian SO's.

 

Moata washed and Kana Yirg natural (aka Rocko mountain). On arrival these were packaged in plain brown bags (no valve, no roast date), so I wasn't expecting much. It does say on the website that they roast everyday.

However, both were excellent, full of fruity flavours with the Yirg packing wild fruits and funk and the Moata creamy and balanced (this one had a score of 91).

I would use these guys again despite no roast date.

 

I also had a Malawi coffee from HasBean which was enjoyable but doesn't count toward new roasters as I've had loads of coffee from them in the past. But the two Two Day coffees were the best of the month by some distance.

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11. Union Hand Roasted

 

sept_coffee.jpg

 

For September i ordered a Union introductory filter pack as you can see above. This consisted of 2 x 200g bags of filter coffee a Brazilian (Bobolink) and a Peruvian (Balcones Especial). £10 delivered Top value.

 

It is a very impressive and professional package capable of slipping through the letterbox with a brochure about Union and their approach to coffee and some brew tips. Also a detailed card regarding each of the beans.

 

As to the beans themselves neither of these are ones i'd be naturally drawn to, but it seemed a good way of finding out about the quality for little outlay. Both score 84.5 on the SCAA cup score. Union say all their coffees are 84 or above.

 

The Brazilian was good (not generally a fan) but this had some nice cherry acidity and a nutty base with initially some milk choc which became more cacoa nib as it aged. I preferred it to the Peruvian which was more caramel/toffee with some apple acidity.

 

It was the usual mix of V60, Brewista (aka Kalita wave) and Bonavita Immersion brews.

 

If this is the bottom of their range then i'm sure that the more expensive stuff will be very good and would have no hesitation ordering from them again.

 

The final roaster will be the mystery LSOL in November.

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October.

 

No new roasters but a return to a couple of excellent Edinburgh roasters. Machina and Williams and Johnson. Not cheap £9, £9.50 per 250g bag but you get quality.

 

Machina - Ethiopian Yirg. Sublime. Best i've had from them yet (all been top notch). Ethiopian Aricha Edido filter roast - taste notes Peach, Lavender, Candied Lemon, silky

 

An absolute pleasure to drink. One of those where you sip and swirl and the flavours just pop around your mouth. Every mouthful is subtely different as is each cup. Sugary sweetness to go with the flavours

 

Williams and Johnson (Leith) - 3rd bag from them. Guatamalan Finca Concepcion, Pixcaya (filter). Orange, Lychee, Hazelnut and jasmine. Very good. Sweet with nut butter mouthfeel and orangey acidity.

 

Great to have such quality roasters in Edinburgh.

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12. Drop LSOL Stockholm to finish off my 12 roasters and very nice it is too.

 

I also went back to retry Two Day roasters from Bristol too see if my previous beans were a fluke. Very little mentioned on the forum.

 

2 beans. Ethiopian Duromina (heirloom) and Kenyan Tano Ndogo AB both with high cup scores. Both excellent. Ethiopian was apricot and nut butter and the Kenyan has an exquisite acidity (passion fruit and rhubarb). I preferred the Kenyan. SL28 identical to the LSOL. I'd thoroughly recommend these guys. Similar to James Gourmet for value and quality. Strangely there is no roast date but the beans were fresh, no question.

 

I'm glad that this is over! It's a bit of a pain finding a new roaster each month when you know that there is good stuff on the go from your favourites. But I've only had one poor bag and have been generally impressed by the majority. One thing I do find frustrating is the variable postage rates and those that can't fit through the letterbox. It seems those whose packaging is letterbox friendly pay less postage. Why aren't they all doing this?

 

My IKAWA is due any day now. So, I'll be mainly home roasting from now.

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