Coffees of the Year 2019 by Edward Wilkins
With 2019 drawing to a close, we can look back on a year full of momentous events: The urgency of a climate catastrophe, another general election, Brexit extensions, Lizzo releasing her album - but to name a few. Looking through a coffee-stained lens however gives me the opportunity to reflect on the truly brilliant year we have experienced at Cooper & Co. and the coffees and customers that we have seen come through our doors over the past 12 months. I feel 2019 has been a fantastic year for coffee, and we've seen a real interest and curiosity for the coffee from our wonderful customers, some of whom have been with us for years, others we've seen for the first time this year, and I wanted to give them a special mention for their questions, ideas and continued support.
To the coffee then! I'm starting off with my absolute favourite coffee of this year, one that has truly stood out for me every single day without fail. I am of course talking about a gem of an East African coffee, coming from the Nyeri County of central Kenya. I've been blown away by the quality of the beans from Kenya this year, their natural light fruitiness complementing the slightly darker roast flavours of sweet chocolate perfectly, especially as a base for a well-made Flat White. The reason I love this coffee so much is its adaptability, it works so well as an espresso, but equally as well through my lazy Sunday morning cafetière, and it's one I always recommend to customers looking to experiment with different tastes and roast levels. I've got to give a shout-out to my previous obsession, the Cuban Serrano Lavado, which has taken very much a back seat to the Kenya this year.
On to the runner up, and I wish I could say it was close call between this and Kenya, but as a testament to Kenya, it wasn't! My runner up for this year is the Nicaraguan Santa Maria, a honey processed coffee that has been as much a hit with myself as it has with everyone at Cooper’s. This Nicaragua is a brilliant example of honey processed coffee, and is full of flavour - hazelnuts, raspberries, chocolate - that works well on its own, or as part of a blend! (Ed's Special Blend: 1 part Nicaragua, 1 part Kenya. This is heaven in a cup)
My honourable mentions are really a celebration of African coffees, ones that we have seen this year that have really stood out and compete against more ‘fashionable’ and popular origins such as Indonesia and South America. Beginning with the birthplace of coffee, Ethiopia, this is a mainstay of our roasts, and comes from probably the best region in Ethiopia for coffee production – Yirgacheffe. Next is a coffee that had a very brief residency in our shop, Rwanda Kinigazi. For a region that has experienced such tragedy so recently, the quality of the production coming from Rwanda has been outstanding. We experimented with this coffee, first roasting at a relatively light level to preserve the delightful fruity notes these coffees are renown for, and then pushing it to the limit of dark roasting, bringing out incredible bitter chocolate and honey flavours. Finally, a mention for the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kawa Kanzururu. Light chocolate, cherries and a smooth finish means this coffee is a constant mover for us.
It wouldn’t really be a review of the best coffees of 2019 without bringing up the obvious: Jamaica Blue Mountain. The rarity, quality and a little bit of marketing has led to the much higher price of this coffee compared to other beans on the market, but I really believe this year’s crop has justified that price. We’ve received beans from the same estate as last year, Flamstead, but this year has been a cut above, and we’ve been floored by the quality in the cup.
I hope you’ve enjoyed our coffee as much as we’ve enjoyed roasting and serving it to you, remember to stock up for the holidays and have a very Happy New Year!