The world of Coffee in 2020
Through the carnage of the pandemic there has been one constant, the increasing interest is for premium freshly roasted coffee. It appears the longer you’re stuck at home the more coffee you need to get you through the day. As many regional coffee roasters will tell you on-line sales of coffee have jumped significantly, helped to some degree by the desire to “support local” but also because technology and logistics have made this type of purchase pain free whilst shops are closed. The coffee maker that has had a resurgence is the Bialetti stove top. Invented way back in 1933, it’s a design classic. Not only does it look good in the kitchen, it also makes great intense coffee.
Talking of coffee, it’s about time I returned to the subject! We closed 2020 selling record quantities of Jamaican Blue Mountain from the St. Cloud’s estate. The question we’re always asked is “is it worth it?” It’s not so much about worth, more about are people willing to pay the £165 per kilo price tag? The answer is a simple “yes” on the evidence of our sales. Throughout December I dipped in and out of this coffee. In a weird way I’m waiting to be disappointed but to date it always surprises me. It’s not a hugely dynamic coffee like some super fruity natural, it’s actually quite gentle and soft in nature with a creamy character. Following some roasting experimentation, it doesn’t take well to being overly dark roasted nor at the other extreme too light. I enjoy it best as a filter coffee and it makes a very decent Americano. If you can, drink it black without sugar. Ultimately, it’s a superb coffee with a mythical price tag. At least try it - it’s still less than the price of a cup of coffee in your local café.
Way back at the beginning of the year I had the privilege of visiting Honduras. Another Central American country with a history of political instability, too many guns and serious drug issues. It’s one thing to read the headlines, another to meet the people. I was out west on the border with Guatemala and El Salvador. It was a great pleasure to be introduced to the Honduras Capucas co-operative. The effort being made to produce an added-value coffee is extraordinary. The efforts they are making to create a sustainable environment even more so. The problem for so many of these countries is getting a sustainable price for their effort. Too many times farmers simply walk away from their farms and head north in search of a better way of life. It’s an unfolding tragedy.
Over the past 12 months or so we’ve been introducing our customers to coffees that have been processed in different ways. Washed is the classic method, however honey and natural processed coffees are increasingly peaking people’s interest. Right now we have a “natural” from Rwanda, Kinini. The whole coffee cherry is dried on the patio and when ready the “pulp” is hulled off. The resultant flavour is overwhelmingly that of fruit. For anyone who has visited a coffee farm, the aromas and flavours are all there in the cup. A really interesting coffee that brings a new twist.
From the new to the old. You couldn’t choose two more classic coffees than Old Brown Java and Monsooned Malabar, but have you ever thought to blend these coffees together? Well one of the Cooper’s team decided to do just that. I’m not sure why it hasn’t been tried before, the OBJ is roasted to a medium dark level whilst the Malabar is light medium. Both coffees are low in acidity which suggests that they’ll work well as an espresso base. And so, after some experimentation we refined the blend to around ¾ OBJ and ¼ Mons. Simply put it’s fantastic as a base for a Cappuccino. The blend brings a real depth of flavour and richness that is awesome.
Finally we’ve noticed a trend back towards fuller roasted coffees. To be honest I’m not a real fan however it’s the customer who sets the rules so we’ve taken a look at which coffees still perform when taken a few degrees darker. Our Sumatra coffee has always been roasted dark and is our number one seller but could we bring in something slightly less powerful but still with a full coffee flavour? Following an extensive testing we discovered that our Brazil Daterra semi-washed coffee was the one. Whilst we still retain this wonderful coffee as a medium roast we’ve added a darker version. The flavour has more punch without having any charred notes that can sometimes occur with these more delicate coffees.
We really are privileged to handle so many great quality coffees from around the world and there isn’t one I wouldn’t take home. In 2021 we’ve decided to look at a few super-premium coffees from some of the finest estates in the world; we’re calling it our “private collection”. They will be available for purchase individually as they come into stock, as well as by monthly subscription to experience 6 of the best: https://cooper.co.je/products/coopers-private-collection-subscription
In this maddest of years, the one thing that hasn’t let us down is our coffee. We should be thankful for small mercies, I guess!