Lately, my taste for coffee has been developing into a much deeper understanding of how and why the flavour of the beverage that so many of us enjoy on a daily basis is so complex. This is a reflection of how I came to like coffee and how my adventure for a better brew came to. I will try to write this with the least amount of pretence I can, after all, anything relating to coffee seems to receive a pretentious image.
It all started back at the end of my university days during the summer. On a particularly hot and sweaty day, I wanted something cold and refreshing but something to keep me focused on my studies. I thought I would try making my own Frappuccino. At the time, I suppose as with any first time coffee drinker, I didn’t pay much attention to the depth of the flavour, nor did I particularly enjoy it were it not for the excessive milk and sugar that I had added to the beverage. However, I didn’t mind it. From then on, whenever I felt like I wanted an extra caffeine kick, I started experimenting by going to multiple chain cafes and seeing what I could handle; Americano, Latte, Cappucino, Mocha and so on and so forth. All of this, I guess contributed to the coffee enthusiast I am now, but, all of that time, I was just drinking coffee for the sake of it. I preferred it over Britain’s favourite hot beverage, the good ol’ cuppa tea, but it wasn’t like I really wanted to explore and taste the coffee. I didn’t know that such a rabbit hole existed.
Fast forward to early 2017. I was working at a snow sports retailer in the city of London, doing early mornings and late evenings and usually on weekends. I would wake up stupidly early every day to get to work for 8, usually have a quiet morning and then the blessed 10 o’clock break for 15 minutes. During this short break, I would either go to Waitrose to buy a snack and claim my free latte using my Waitrose card, or go to a chain cafe to get something that ultimately, left you a bit disappointed and left a bad taste in your mouth. It wasn’t until a few months after where one of my colleagues, who was just about to go on their break asked if I wanted a coffee. Feeling like I needed a pick me up, I jumped at the opportunity for a hit of caffeine. When they came back, coffees in hand, I was surprised when they paper cup didn’t have a green logo of a mermaid. Curious of the origin of this drink, I asked where it came from and was told, “curators”. Nothing more. At this point, the mid morning slump was severe, so I took a big swig, fully prepared to burn the inside of my mouth. As I pre-emptively winced to drink the energy liquid, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was at perfect drinking temperature. Not to mention the flavour! It was a blast of rich, velvety chocolate notes and caramel which was all enhanced and added a sweetness by the milk that had been so expertly steamed. Keep in mind, at this point, I still had no real idea of the depth of different coffee flavours. I was blown away at how different this was compared to anything I had drank previously.
Since then, I would still go to Waitrose to get my free coffee, but on payday, as a treat, I would often go to Curators coffee or Taylor’s Barista. As a side note, both cafes have a very comfortable and cosy vibe where the staff are friendly, extremely knowledgable about coffee. I don’t know about Curators but Taylor st baristas also roast their own delicious coffees and they were where I started to buy my own coffee beans from once I actually had my own drip filter.
Fast forward again to the present day. Here I am, sitting in my home office, typing away after having a double espresso using beans bought from Kaffee culture. A loverly two person operation where they roast their beans and bring them to both Barnes farmer’s market on Saturday mornings and Stroud Green market on Sundays. They are so friendly and are always happy to recommend some beans if you want to try something new. Lately, I have been using their Brazilian beans and they have such a rich chocolate flavour to them that, I have very much been enjoying drinking it as an espresso (not usually my drink of choice)! They also do a Peruvian (pictured) which is the opposite and very fruity. Slightly citrusy, with hints of berries. Something that works very nicely with a Chemex. They only bring medium roasts to the market, which is fine for me but on their website, you can order a lighter or darker roast depending on your tastes with the capability to ask for something in-betweeny as they keep a colour reference for every batch. They have some Costa Rican beans which are supposed to be quite unique in flavour and I am dying to try out a lighter roast of it brewed with the trusty Chemex.
So what am I trying to say with the post? What is the meaning behind all of the words above? Nothing really. I guess it’s just a celebration of the growth of my palate from accepting coffee to actually enjoying the taste and appreciating the depth of the flavour. Now I’m not saying all of this to sound like a coffee snob. I’m really not. Some people don’t care how their coffee tastes but they might have other interests that I don’t care about. And that’s fine, that’s how I see the argument. I just prefer exploring and enjoying the drink that I want, rather than the drink I need.