Coffee Review #26 – Long and Short

Based in London, Long and Short have been around since at least 2016 going by their oldest blog post. They’re a roaster who are really proud to offer small batch, third-wave speciality coffee and after sampling two of their offerings, they have every right to be proud of what they’re producing. Before we get into today’s coffees, let’s take a look at their website.

The site design is one of the louder ones I’ve seen, eschewing the usual plain white approach of many speciality roasters and instead going for something that wouldn’t look out of place on Cartoon Network. It’s certainly striking, but it’s easy enough to navigate, with the assorted product links easily located near the top of the page.

They don’t just sell coffee, oh no. There’s also tea, drinking chocolate, assorted merch and for those with very deep pockets you can even buy yourself a La Marzocco coffee machine. One day I will own a Linea Mini. One day. For now, though, all I can do is coo at the pretty pictures and try not to lick the machines when I see them in person.

In terms of products on offer there’s four different coffees currently available, ranging from £9 to £16 –

  • “Peng Editions #4 – Shady Colombia
  • Bombe – Ethiopia
  • Chinguel – Peru
  • Decaf – Peru

There’s also a subscription service (at a fairly reasonable £10 a bag, with includes any super-special editions at no extra cost) or the option to buy three of the coffees in a bundle at a discount. You can buy them as whole beans, ground for a variety of different methods, or even as green beans if you want to try roasting yourself!

Ordering was simple enough, postage was a fairly reasonable at £3.23 for two bags. The shipping cost does increase per bag, though they also offer free postage for any order over £30. So what did I go for?

Let’s talk about the Chinguel from Peru first. Holy CRAP. That is, without a doubt, the juiciest, fruitiest coffee I have ever tasted. It was almost overwhelming. Almost. In my Bialetti Mini or my Rok EspressoGC it made a very, very potent little espresso.

The problem with it, however, is that it was so strong, so fruity, that using it to make a milk-based drink like a latte or cortado was just sort of weird. You ended up with this strongly fruity-tasting milk drink and while I’m partial to a strawberry or even a lime milkshake every now and again, I found it an unpleasant combination. Definitely one to use for a black Americano or a flat white, something made primarly with water.

The Debela, on the other hand? That’s one I’d buy again. I definitely enjoy Ethiopian coffees above any others, I’ve actually got a Djimma currently sitting in the kitchen, waiting for me to get stuck in when this batch is done. It’s a proper all rounder. I’ve had it in the Rok, the Bialetti, a cafetiere/french press and even in my siphon and it makes a lovely cup. Latte, Americano, straight-up espresso, it’s a solid performer regardless of how you have it.

If you like your coffees on the juicy side of things, or if you’re looking for a very reasonably priced subscription service to try out, Long and Short are definitely worth your time and your money.

TTFN.

Kit Review #2 – The Sttoke Cup

Following the disappointment of the F-Cup, I’d given up looking for ceramic thermal cups for a while. Then a couple of months ago on Twitter I saw a post from Coffee Box for something called the Sttoke Reusable Cup. An insulated metal cup, with a ceramic coating, so you get the heat retention of a travel mug but without the change in taste that you normally get from steel or plastic mugs.

The cups are available in two sizes, 8oz (about 230ml) and 12oz (about 340ml), currently priced at £29.99 and £34.99 respectively on Coffee Box (other retailers are available!). The one I went for is the 8oz blue version and here it is –

It’s a very elegant, almost pretty thing. The ceramic is lovely and smooth on the outside and it feels really nice in your hand. The outside remains cool, regardless of the temp of the liquid inside and I’m pleased to be able to say that it retains heat really well. Cups like these are never going to keep heat in the same way as a dedicated thermos or the like, but you can have a drink in there for a good couple of hours and still find it pleasantly warm.

So there’s the pros. It looks nice, it feels nice, and it does exactly what you want a thermal cup to do – It keeps your drinks warm. However, there are a couple of caveats.

The first is that to call the lid “spill proof” is perhaps stretching the meaning of those words just a smidge. While, yes, it will keep your drink from pouring out all over your desk if you knock it over thanks to the rubber seal holding it quite snugly in place, it’s far from sealed. If you tip this over, it WILL dribble coffee everywhere so don’t think you can just close the lid and stick it into your bag, you’ll end up with coffee everywhere.

The second issue I have with it is the ceramic coating inside. It’s being slowly but steadily chipped away as I stir my coffee inside it. I’ve had this cup four months, and you can see the damage steel teaspons have already done to it in the pictures below. This is from using it once or twice a day, almost every day over the last four months so I am a little concerned about the longevity of this coating.

The last concern I have is with the lid. The little slider that covers the opening is prone to getting coffee underneath it as you drink. It is removable for cleaning, but it requires so much effort to get it to pop free that I’m genuinely concerned that something is going to snap each time I remove it and if you are someone who struggles with gripping things or has problems with the strength in your hands you might find this a problem. That said, you certainly can’t say that it’s not on there securely.

All in all, though, do I like this cup? I really do. Initially I was disappointed with how small it is, but actually now I rather like it as it leads to making stronger, more intense drinks. I have a double shot of espresso each time, topped up with either hot water or steamed milk and it’s just lovely every time. While there are some niggles about the lid, and some nitpicks, I definitely don’t regret spending the money on it.

Oh! I almost forgot! It has one odd little habit if you have the drinking hole closed. It TICKS. It burbles away to itself with these funny little ticking, popping noises, like sitting next to a bowl of rice crispies. Even if you’ve only got the dregs of your drink left, you can hear it chattering away to itself. The documentation does also note that you need to leave the hole slightly open to make sure the steam doesn’t build up pressure inside the cup. Last thing you want is the lid popping off all by itself.

If you want a cup for home, something a bit different from your usual coffee mug, something to sit on your desk while you work, something that’s going to let you sip at the same cup of coffee for an hour without getting cold, this is definitely worth your hard-earned money.

TTFN.

Coffee Review #25 – Department of Coffee and Social Affairs

So, uh, it’s been a while. Cough. There’s a few reasons for that but the main reason is that for a long time I couldn’t drink coffee. I attended the London Coffee Festival last year and something I ate there didn’t agree with me and I ended up being sick as a dog.

Unfortunately my brain decided what this meant was “Coffee makes us sick, let’s not drink coffee anymore” so that was that. For months afterwards even the smell of coffee turned my stomach. THANKFULLY that has now buggered off and I’m back to enjoying coffee again so here we go!

Today we’re going to look at a London based roastery – The Department of Coffee and Social Affairs, which is an awesome name. They’ve been around for ten years now and are still going strong. If you want to know more about what makes them tick, check out their About page for more details but the main theme here is all about that focus on single origin coffee.

The site design is that now-familiar crisp, minimalist black on white layout that’s so common among third wave coffee sites. It’s nothing exactly standout, but it does the job nicely. It’s quick to load and easy to navigate and wastes no time in letting you get straight to choosing and buying your coffee.

At time of writing they have six coffees available to purchase in 250g bags. The coffees on offer are –

  • Christmas Espresso Blend
  • Christmas Filter Blend
  • Natural Pilgrin (Ethiopian)
  • East End Blend
  • Desert Rose (Colombian)
  • Super Nova (Rwandan)

Prices are either £9.00 or £9.50 and UK First Class shipping is £3.30 a bag, with every additional bag adding another £1 to the shipping cost.

I ordered the East End Blend and the Natural Pilgrim and my order was despatched the next day. I think it took two days to arrive, so all in all a fairly quick process. I decided to start with the East End Blend, the Pilgrim is still sitting in the kitchen waiting to be cracked open.

This is a versatile coffee for espresso based drinks, it makes a lovely long black and an equally tasty latte when put through its paces in my Barista Express. The website describes it as “A blend of dark/milk chocolate, fruit and nut” and I’d agree with that. There’s a definite chocolate/nut overtone that’s really pleasant. It’s at the stronger end of the coffees I enjoy, but it manages to be avoid being overwhelming or bitter

I also gave it a shot in my tried and tested Hario syphon filter, and found that it ends up quite harsh, as a lot of coffees do. You can definitely taste the chocolate/nutty side of things, but it ends up tasting dark and almost over-roasted. The filter is definitely best for the more floral end of things in my opinion, or perhaps that’s just the way I make things. It would probably fare well in the cafetiere but I will admit I haven’t got around to trying it in mine.

All in all, this is a good all rounder offering. It’s strong without being harsh, distinctive without straying too far away from the tastes of “traditional” coffee, making it another great entry point for those just dipping their toes into the wide world of speciality coffee.

TTFN

Coffee Review #24 – Bird & Wild Coffee

Let’s talk about feel good coffee. We’re all here because we love that special brown bean juice, but in this day and age it’s about more than just the end product in our cups. It matters where it comes from, how it’s produced, who it’s produced by, and what impact that production has on the surrounding countryside.

Enter Bird & Wild, a company that specifically sets out to produce environmentally conscious coffee that directly supports animal conservation/protection through donations to the RSPB, Smithsonian Migratory Bird Centre and the Fairtrade Foundation.

If you’d like to know more, I’d suggest checking out their About Us page on the website which goes into a fair amount of detail about their ethos and their coffee, it’s nice to see a site put so much out there.

The site design is a lot busier than now-traditional look of many other third wave coffee sites which tend to go for that black on white minimalist look. I don’t mean this as a negative in any way, I hasten to add. The site is easy to navigate, everything is exactly where you’d expect it to be and as mentioned before there’s an absolute wealth of information to be found about their business and their coffee. I encountered no problems at all finding what I wanted.

They have three coffees available to purchase in sizes ranging from 200g to 1kg bags and if you really need that coffee fix you can even buy a case of 6x200g! The coffees on offer are –

  • Espresso Roast
  • Seasonal Blend
  • Signature Espresso Blend

Prices range from £4.99 to £29.99 and standard UK shipping is £2.99.

This is the second of my random finds at TK Maxx, and it’s the Seasonal Blend we’ll be looking at.

I know it’s not an easy thing for a company to pivot their packaging from one type to another, but I wonder if, with all this emphasis on conservation and the like, if Bird & Wild have/are considering a move to the biodegradable bags? They’re becoming more common now so it’d be nice to see them ditch the plastic packaging and move to something a bit more eco-friendly.

This coffee was tried in all three of my main coffee makers, the Barista Express, Bodum cafetiere/french press and the Hario Syphon. All this talk of protecting birds and shade grown coffee is all well and good, but as with my previous review of “Change Please Coffee“, it’s all for naught if the coffee isn’t any good.

But it is. Is is good, very good in fact. It’s not often I find a coffee that works in all three makers, providing a lovely cup every time.

Dangit. Again I forgot to take photos of the others. Too busy taking beauty shots of the siphon, I think (It is very pretty, though). Now the tasting notes on the bag talk about ‘floral aromas’ and while they are there, they’re not overwhelming and while the siphon did enhance them (as it tends to bring out whatever the top notes are) they weren’t overpowering. This was a rich, smooth, and simply lovely coffee that I have no hesitation in recommending at all.

Regardless of how you make your coffee, the Bird & Wild seasonal blend will not let you down.

TTFN.

Coffee Review #23 – True Start Coffee

This is the first of three reviews from my latest foray into the wilds of TK Maxx (That’s TJ Maxx for you non-UK folks. I have no idea why the name is different here. Maybe they thought we were all dumb and might confuse it with TJ Hooker or something). If people like these reviews, I might make this a regular thing. There’s like 6 different TK Maxx shops within a 15 mile radius of home so it could be good fun to go rummaging and see what I can find.

Let’s kick things off with a look at Bristol-based True Start Coffee.

True Start have been around since 2015 and they are VERY enthusiastic about what they do. From modest beginnings you can now find their coffee all over the place, being sold by Amazon, Ocado, Shell garages and more.

At the moment they have a pretty wide variety of coffee-related things for sale, including Nitro Coffee, coffee pods, Cold Brew coffee (including chilli chocolate coffee? Interesting!), and actual coffee beans as well. It’s this last one we’ll take a look at today.

YES to biodegradable bags! I think this is only the third roaster I’ve purchased from that does a biodegradable bag. When you go through as much coffee as I do, you start to become very aware of just how much plastic you’re forced to throw away. Please, roasters, switch to biodegradable bags!

Before we go on, I have to admit something. I somehow managed to not take a single picture of any of my brews. You’ll just have to take my word for it that I tried this in the three I promised in an earlier review. My Barista Express, Bodum french press/cafetiere and my Hario Syphon.

So, on opening the first thing that was noticeable were the beans. They’re quite oily which is interesting, a lot of the coffees I buy are very dry. These still aren’t the oiliest I’ve ever bought, that dubious accolade goes to Starbucks who have beans SO OILY they stuck to the inside of the bag, clung to the insides of my grinder’s hopper and left an oily smear all over everything like you’d been rubbing your fingers in cooking oil. It really wasn’t entirely pleasant. These, however, were nowhere near as bad.

First off was the Sage/Breville Barista Express and my customary Americano and….eww. I’m sorry guys, but eww was my first reaction. This one tasted really strongly of licorice, at least that’s how it seemed to me, and that’s not a flavour I particularly like. This flavour persisted all the way through the cafetiere and the syphon.

Now as to the rest, there was nothing bad about this coffee. It made a nice clean cup, it was certainly drinkable in everything I tried it in, but this was just not one for me, not at all. As this seems to be the only whole bean coffee that True Start offers, I likely won’t be picking this one up again but you might find this coffee more to your liking. It’s certainly a memorable one even if, for me personally, it’s for the wrong reasons!

TTFN.

Coffee Review #22 – 3pm Coffee

So this is something a little out of my usual purview, but I was intrigued enough to give them a look. 3pm Coffee make coffee bags. Basically tea bags, but with coffee in them…or so I thought. Oh no, we have some interesting technical wizardry going on here. Does it work? Kinda.

3pm Coffee haven’t been around for a massive amount of time, only coming into existence in August 2018 but they’ve certainly got a unique product on offer. While coffee bags are no new thing to the UK coffee market, I’ve never seen any quite like these before. These are Japanese filter coffee bags and they’re kind of fascinating.

At the moment you have four tiers available for purchase. You can order a “Coffee Sample” of just two pouches for the pricely sum of nothing at all at the moment. Then you have the following options –

  • The “Small Discovery Pack” – 4 pouches for £4.95
  • The “Large Discovery Pack” – 10 pouches for £10.95
  • The “Signature Coffee Box” – 24 pouches for £23.95

All of the above come with free delivery so you’re paying roughly £1 and a bit per bag/pouch which isn’t bad at all. You can also save yourself some money on the two bigger boxes by signing up for a monthly sub which saves you £1 a box for the Large and £3 a box for the Signature.

The coffee on offer rotates out fairly frequently and at the time of writing they have coffees from the following roasters –

  • Frazer’s Coffee Roasters
  • Strangers Coffee
  • Exchange Coffee
  • Django Coffee
  • Cannonball Coffee

Which is kind of cool as I’m only familiar with one of those, Strangers, so that’s more roasters for me to add to my ever growing list! So, enough talk about the products on offer, let’s look at what the actual coffee pouches are like. You get a little fold out pamphlet that gives you additional information about your coffee, which is always nice..

So as you can see, they come in individual little sachets and this is where I first realised that what I bought wasn’t what I thought I’d bought. I was expecting coffee bags that were just like teabags, ones you just toss in a cup to infuse as they were the only ones I’d had experience with. Oh no, these things are awesome.

I mean look! Lookit that! It’s a mini drip filter! How awesome is that? I f’king LOVE the design of these things, they’re adorable. They feel a bit flimsy, but I didn’t have a single problem with them, they hooked nicely onto my glass Bodum mug, didn’t slip or sag or anything.

But now we reach the crux of the matter. What was the coffee like? Honestly it was a bit weak. Now partly that’s my fault, I like a somewhat strong coffee. I regularly put two shots in my americanos and lattes so I found this one a bit lacking in the body department, a bit on the watery side when made in a full size mug. I don’t know if I was meant to leave the bag sitting in the actual water for longer than I did or if that’s just how they taste. If I made them wrong, folks at 3pm, please do let me know!

The actual coffee was nice, a very clean cup, no sludge or anything. The coffees were both on the fruitier end of things, so both right up my alley. Your mileage will vary, of course, as since I ordered mine they have a whole other new set of roasters and coffees on offer.

Would I recommend these? I can see the appeal, certainly, they’re very simple to use, nifty to look at, don’t require anywhere near the faff of a full on drip filter, or something like a Kafflano Classic, Aeropress or the like, but the coffee itself was a bit underwhelming. Maybe with a smaller mug, or with more time spent sitting in the cup it’d pick up a bit more strength and body but for me they’re a novelty I likely won’t pick up again.

But hey, you can get two pouches for nothing at all. Give them a try, see for yourself! You might like them!

TTFN.

Kit Review #1 – The F-Cup

Disappointment, folks. Disappointment. I guess this is sort of spoiler territory for the rest of the review, but today we need to talk about disappointment. I wanted to love this cup. I really did. I love the ethos behind it, I love the design, I love the look, the weight, I love everything about it and I wish, I wish that I could tell you all to run out and buy one, tell you this is the greatest insulated mug I’ve ever used…

But I can’t. Because it’s not, at least not for me.

Before we get too into things, let’s back up and set some context. So I’ve started working from home on a mostly permanent basis and I have a horrid habit of letting my coffee/tea go cold. I make a cup, and then get distracted by work and 20 minutes later my drink is room-temp as my office is somewhat cold. So began my search for an insulated mug for home. I won’t touch plastic ones, as they make drinks taste funny. Metal ones are better, but they do still flavour what you put in them. I’ve had glass ones, but they tend to be horribly brittle and I smashed the last two I had just by knocking them against the sink while I was cleaning them so ideally I wanted ceramic.

Hunting around on eBay and Amazon, I eventually found the F-Cup and instantly fell in love with the looks. I mean LOOK at it. It’s f’king gorgeous! Okay, so it’s too big to fit under my coffee machine properly but I didn’t care, it was that good looking.

I mean yum! I instantly fell in love with that two-tone metal/ceramic look. I also loved the ethos behind it. This cup is made as kind of an offshoot of another business. A water-sports business called FC Watersports! You can look them up, they sell like kite-surfing kit and paddleboards and all sorts. Being involved in water-sports and the ocean, they decided to try and do their little part to cut down on the amount of plastic waste we all create and set out to make a reusable mug. Using the name of “FC Watersports” and their other website “SUP Inflatables” they came up with the F-Cup brand.

It came to me well packaged, wrapped in plenty of bubblewrap inside and out to protect it, not a ding to be found when I unboxed it. As you might be able to see from the pictures above, there’s a lip in the ceramic inner and that’s where the lid rests, secured in place with a rubber flange. This holds in place nice and solidly when you open/close the lid to drink but the moment you tip the cup onto its side the lid does stay in place, I’m pleased to be able to say, but it starts dumping the contents all over the place as you can see in the image below (demonstration hand provided by my long-suffering wife).

We repeated this test on multiple occasions, always making sure to ensure the lid was properly seated and closed. The issue here is down to the design of the lid, highlighted in the images below.

The rubber flange that holds it in place does not actually secure the opening that allows you to drink and liquid is able to escape through those gaps on either side of the opening. Now this isn’t a deal-breaker as plenty of other travel cups leak, and many of them can’t even be closed over like this one can, this is just something to bear in mind. You can’t just toss this into your bag, not unless you want everything in there to be soggy!

The biggest issue I have with the F-Cup is the thermal retention, or the lack thereof. This became apparent almost instantly on first use. The metal walls of the mug got hot when I made coffee, and when I put in boiling water to make tea the metal got so hot I couldn’t physically handle the cup without risking burning my hands. I had to wrap the cup in a towel and then wait for it to cool before I could drink from it. This amount of heat leaking out suggests very poor thermal retention abilities and this was borne out by the drinks, even with the lid on, going cold in only a little longer time than I could achieve with a normal stoneware or ceramic mug.

Concerned that I had, perhaps, received a defective mug and wanting to give it every chance to shine, I reached out to the support email address to ask if this was normal, or if I’d somehow been sent a mug that wasn’t working properly. Unfortunately the response I got back indicated that this was, indeed, simply how the cup works as the gentleman at the F-Cup informed me that his cup was the same, that it got very hot when being used to make tea and slightly less hot for coffee, which is no surprise as the water for coffee is usually at a lower temp than tea.

I was also informed that the inner of the cup between the ceramic inner and metal outer was sealed with foam, which strikes me as a little odd. I am used to these mugs using a vacuum to ensure that heat isn’t transferred between the inner and outer, I don’t know if many other types use foam.

So here we arrive at the end, the summary, the final judgement. As a cup, the F-Cup is a beautiful thing to look at. It’s a really nice, heavy cup which won’t suit everyone but I rather like it. Now it is possible that my expectations here weren’t realistic, perhaps I’m simply expecting too much for a ceramic insulated mug to work as well as well as a metal one like the Starbucks travel mug I also own, I honestly don’t know. From what I can tell, ceramic thermal mugs don’t perform as well as metal ones, but I’d still hope for it to be noticeably better than a regular stoneware mug!

What I really need is a cup that I can leave my coffee in for forty minutes and come back to it and it’s still drinkable and unfortunately the F-Cup simply doesn’t meet my needs.

It’s a lovely made thing, and I appreciate the thought behind it, but could I recommend it for purchase if you’re looking for an insulated travel mug? Sadly the answer is a definite no.

TTFN.


Review #21 – Unique Coffee Roasters

So this one comes with a little bit of a curiosity attached to it. As you may know from reading the blog, I’m based in the UK but today’s coffee comes to us from a roaster based in Staten Island, USA. Now while not entirely unheard of, it’s not a place I tend to buy coffee from because –

A – Most of them won’t ship overseas and

B – If I DID, the costs would just be prohibitive.

So how did this particular bag of coffee come into my possession? Well, I randomly found it at my local TK Maxx (TJ Maxx to any US folks reading this). TK Maxx has stocked coffee for ages, but the one local to me has mostly had random bags of pre-ground, flavoured coffee that don’t interest me. But on this visit I found this, a bag of beans! Interest piqued, I grabbed it and it wasn’t until I got home and looked up the roaster that I discovered that it’d had quite a journey to get to me. I did reach out to Unique twice through both their online contact form and their Facebook page, asking for more information about this coffee and how it might have ended up in the UK, but received no response to either one which is a little disappointing (though I can clearly see that they have read my FB message). Ah well, it’s a sad truth of the internet that we encounter poor customer service far too often. Let’s move on!

As usual, we start with a bit of history about the roaster.


Based on Staten Island, Unique Coffee Roasters have been around since 1995 and offer an impressive selection of coffees. Fifteen single origin beans, fifteen different blends and THIRTY different flavoured coffees as well as teas and Keurig and Nespresso pods! Dayum. If you can’t finds something here you like, I’d suggest maybe switching to…I dunno. Soft drinks?

Prices run from between $11.99 to $13.99 for a 450g bag of single origin, which is pretty damn reasonable if you ask me. Blends are $10.99 to $14.99 and the flavoured coffees are almost entirely $10.99 for a bag, with only one at $11.99 so I have to say their pricing is pretty generous for the size of bag they’re selling, I’ve paid more than that for a 250g bag which is pretty much the regular size for most UK roasters.

Nice enough bag, eye-catching livery and a nice little blurb about the coffee and the company on front and back, along with some brewing instructions and information on their roasts. Nice! No way to re-seal the bag, so an airtight container or straight into the hopper for your grinder is recommended.

First thing you notice on opening the bag is DAMN, that’s pungent! Not unpleasantly so, but I could immediately tell that this was a much stronger roast than I normally buy. Looking at their roasting chart they claim this is a medium roast but I gotta say it tasted FAR more like a dark roast to me, it had a serious kick.

Straight off, don’t bother with this in a syphon, it’s not pleasant. In a cafetiere it was nice enough, but again just too strong for me. Definitely one for espresso only, I think. Unlike my previous review, also of a Mexican coffee, I couldn’t really pick up any massively spicy notes here, all I got was COFFEE. Like COFFEE from dawn till dusk and then dawn again. If this is their idea of a medium roast, I can’t even begin to imagine what their strongest roast is like!

All in all, this is one for those who like their coffee to taste like coffee, but also who want a stronger kick to go along with it. I ended up having to add extra milk and sugar to mine! Would I buy this one again? No. Would I pick up coffee from this roaster again if I had the chance? Definitely.

TTFN.

Review #20 – Raw Bean Coffee

Hello folks,

So it’s been a little while since my last review and for that I do apologise! I’ve been doing a lot of work writing for the other site I’m involved with – Set The Tape – and between that and gearing up to start a new job in the new year, coffee reviews have somewhat fallen by the wayside.

But I am still here! Still drinking coffee! Still slowly driving my wife insane by attempting to find space for yet more coffee paraphernalia on our already cluttered kitchen counters! With the run up to Christmas money’s been a little tight so I’ve not been ordering as many coffees online as I used to and instead I’ve been hunting around trying to find if there’s any other really good store-stocked coffees.

My current go-to remains Modern Standard’s Espresso Blend – Available at your local orange branded supermarket. I also quite like the “Lucy’s Blend” from Change Please. Unfortunately the others from this range are all pre-ground, this is the only one available as whole beans.

Today, though, we’re looking at a recent discovery – Raw Bean Coffee.

The site is a little light on specific details about the company, but looking at the blog it would appear that they’re based in Winchester and they’ve been around since around 2014/2015. There’s a number of different coffees available on their site, from single serve coffee bags, single origin coffees, decaf coffees and even three different blends. The site design is pretty nice and clean, quick and easy to navigate, so I might well give online ordering from these folks a try.

At the moment there’s only one of their coffees available in my local Sainsburys so let’s take a look at Raw Bean’s “Mega Mexican” single origin coffee.

Immediately major props for putting a roasting date on the bag! Modern Standard do that as well, but most of the other brands you see in the supermarket don’t, so you really have no idea if they’ve been there three weeks, four months, ten? Does it matter in the grand scheme of things? Well, probably not, but it’s the sort of little detail that I appreciate and immediately makes this offering stand out from the rest.

Moving on, one thing needs to be made clear – Don’t use this for espresso. My results with it were, well, not great. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great either. In fact, this kicked off a new trend with any coffee I review in future. All coffees will now be tried in three machines –

  1. Sage Barista Express
  2. Hario Syphon Filter
  3. Bodum Cafetiere

That way I’m giving every coffee a fair shake, trying it as espresso, plunger and filter. So after my mediocre results in the espresso machine (and again, it wasn’t BAD, but a lot of the coffee’s tasting notes were drowned out by the milk) I moved on to my syphon.

I got a little arty with this one, can’t you tell? The syphon will always be one of my favourite machines to make coffee with, just because of the artistry of it. It’s such a fun thing to show off, it looks like some mad scientist experiment! I’d love to lay my hands on a Vienna Balance machine sometime, which is sort of like a syphon on steroids, but they’re both big and kinda pricy so I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

So what was it like in the syphon? Not good. I don’t know about other folks, but I find the syphon is unbelievably picky about coffees and it has a habit of bringing out all the top, sharp notes of anything you put into it so in this instance the coffee just became unpleasantly strong and almost sour so I gave that up as a bad idea and turned to machine number three and this is where I struck gold.

In the cafetiere it was transformed into something rich, slightly spicy and entirely delicious with not a hint of a sour or sharp note to be found. Strong, without being overpowering, with a pleasant mouthfeel that stayed just the right side of cloying, this was just a bloody good coffee.

I finished the bag in a week, it was that good I kept going back for more and more and more. My cafetiere saw more use in that week than it has in the year and more since I bought it. I actually have another bag of this coffee in my kitchen as we speak, it’s simply that good.

But I’d really, really recommend a cafetiere for it. I grind it on the coarsest setting my Sage Smart Grinder Pro will do and that seems to work pretty well so just something to keep in mind.

Right, that’s it for now. When I return in the new year it’ll be with a review of a purchase from TK Maxx that turned out to be the most well-travelled coffee I’ve looked at so far.

TTFN for now, and have a great Christmas and a happy New Year!