Review #11 – Yallah Coffee Roaster

Hello again folks, I hope you’re all doing well on this fine, crisp Sunday morning. I’m watching last night’s Ireland/Wales game in the 6 Nations as I write this and then after that I’ll finally watch the Scotland/England game as I hear I can’t set foot anywhere near any social media if I don’t want the score ruined for me!  I’m not much of a sporting fan, but I follow the 6 Nations everytime it’s on. Love me a bit of egg chasing, though as a lifelong Scotland fan (being Scottish myself), I am also inured to the disappointment that inevitably comes with it!

But anyway.  Coffee!  Today we’re looking at Yallah Coffee.  I believe this was one that popped up on my twitter feed as a suggestion from the algorithm so I thought I’d give them a looksee.

They’re a roastery based down in Cornwall, apparently using a 1950’s era roasting machine for their beans. I can’t tell how long they’ve been around for as their “story” on their site simply says that the idea for their business came about a few years ago.  Their Facebook page says they were founded in 2014 so I’ll go with that!

yallah

The website is simple to navigate and I had no problems at all finding what I wanted and placing my order!  They currently have five coffees on offer and, as per usual, I decided to go for the House blend.  They also have –

  • Colombia – La Plata
  • DR of Congo – Rebuild Woman’s Hope
  • Guatemala – Las Terrazas
  • House Decaf

Prices range from £6.50 to £9.00 for a 250g bag.  Postage is £3 flat rate with Royal Mail or they offer free shipping for orders over £25.  The coffee was shipped the same day I placed the order and I’m happy to say that I had it the very next day so absolutely no complaints about that!  Couldn’t get it any faster unless you went and knocked on the roastery door.

 

So let’s talk packaging. It…could do with a bit of work, honestly. It arrived as you can see, not flat packed, or in a resealable bag (I really don’t count those twisty things, I never feel like they keep bag sealed, though that’s just my preference!) and it arrived shipped in a cardboard box that appeared to be designed to take two bags instead of one.  There was a lot of empty space for things to get bounced and jostled around which for me is always an opportunity for things to get damaged.

This really is just a pet peeve here, I hate packaging that’s way too big for the item.  Amazon has to be Public Enemy Number 1 when it comes to that, some of their packaging is just insane!  But this isn’t a shipping blog, it’s a coffee blog, so let’s move on.

EDIT (15/03/18) That said, one thing I am very pleased to see is that it comes in a fully biodegradable bag! I think that’s a first for the coffees I’ve been reviewing up till now and I do apologise to Yallah for not noticing that when I initially wrote the review, hence this update.  That’s actually very cool as I hate that most of the other coffee bags just need to go straight in the bin as they’re mixed materials and the local council won’t touch them.

So, moving on! The tasting notes listed on the bag promised yummy things  “Chocolate mousse with notes of caramel and demerara”?  SIGN ME UP.

But…yeah. This review has actually taken me a while to write.  Why?  Well, because honestly this coffee turned out to be a bit of a disappointment and I really hated to have to say that. Whether used for hot water or hot milk based drinks, it was just kind of forgettable save for a somewhat unpleasant final sour note lurking at the bottom of every cup that made me want to screw my face up if I drank it too quickly.

Other than that it wasn’t a bad coffee, it just wasn’t very good either and I really struggled to detect any of the tasting notes no matter how hard I tried.  Nothing made it stand out to me as one I’d fall over myself to buy again and I always feel bad saying that! I always feel like I’m damning a coffee with faint praise if I go “Well, it wasn’t BAD…”

So yeah. It was a nice enough coffee, certainly not one I regret trying, but not one I’m likely to order again.

TTFN.

EDIT: 15/03/18Yallah got in touch with me on Twitter to comment on the review, which was lovely.  I always like to hear back from the folks I write about, especially if they have comments which can help me improve my writing, which they did!  They specifically flagged up the biodegradable bags which, I have to admit, I’d completely missed despite it being printed right there on the bag so I’m very happy to add that into the review.

They also said “Around the same time as your review we actually flagged an issue with the roaster through our normal QC programme, the roast has since changed ” so it’s possible that the bag I got from them wasn’t a proper reflection of their usual quality and they’ve offered to send me a replacement to taste again which I’d love to try.  I was hoping for good things from this coffee and that last sour note that kept creeping in just spoiled it for me.

I will do a re-review of Yallah once I get another bag to try!

2. What methods do I use?

I mentioned in my earlier post that I own a few different machines for different kinds of coffees and occasions.  To demonstrate the wide variety of methods for getting coffee into your cup, I’ll list the ones I own.

Sage Barista Express – AKA The Breville Barista Express for you non-UK folks.  This is my mainstay machine, which makes a simply lovely espresso. It’s got a built in burr grinder, a steamer, can dispense hot water and has enough settings to play with that it’s enough to keep any budding barista happy for a long time. I’ve been honing my skills on this for a while, but I still can’t do latte art to save my life!

Hario Syphon Filter – This was the machine that turned me on to coffee.  I saw a demonstration of it at PullBrewMelt and fell in love with it. It looks like some sort of alchemy experiment, something to be found in a mad scientists lab.  My first ever coffee machine and still one I use from time to time. (The Hario is somewhat expensive, but there are plenty of other versions/brands available that cost a lot less and still make a lovely cup, so please don’t be put off by the price.)

Aeropress – This is the first of my go-to machines for when I’m out camping or staying away from home. Simple to use, easy to clean, cheap to buy and makes a lovely espresso-style coffee that’s lovely when topped up with either hot milk or water.  What’s not to like?

Handpresso – My latest upgrade from the Aeropress for when I go camping.  I’ve not had it long, so only used it out and about once before and it was a little fiddly at first, but once you get the hang of it it’s another machine that makes a really nice espresso shot.  Just stick your kettle on the stove to boil and there you go, some great fresh coffee in the mornings.  Another big plus with these is that unlike the Aeropress where you need to have a bag of ground coffee, the Handpresso is also compatible with ESE branded pods (Lavazza make these) and Senseo coffee pods.

V60 – I have to admit, the V60 and I just don’t see eye to eye. It’s a machine that I just can’t seem to get the knack for. I even went out and bought a proper goose-neck kettle to use with it and so far I’ve not had a great deal of success so I’m afraid there’s not going to be a great many reviews of this machine.

Oomph – This is a product I backed on Kickstarter which is, essentially, an Aeropress inside a travel mug.  The initial pitch sounded great, but the finished product is a bit underwhelming in my opinion.  The top isn’t watertight, so it spills coffee unless kept perfectly vertical and it’s not insulated enough to keep the coffee warm for much more than half an hour or so, which means I can’t take it into the office with me as the coffee would be cold by the time I finished my one hour drive.

Bialetti Mini Express – This was a present from a friend, I fell in love with the minimalist design of it. I don’t get on with a lot of the moka-style stovetop makers but this one works really well and, like the syphon, I love the theatre of it.

Stovetop percolator – This was another gift, from my father-in-law who’s had it for years.  It’s a lovely thing, makes a very lovely, sweet brew and is just fun to use, though doesn’t see a great deal of use these days with all the other options I now own.  The picture I’ve linked to isn’t my specific one, but it’s almost identical.

1. What are we doing here?

Well, in short, this is going to be where I review UK coffee roasters and their coffees.

Since I went to a tea/coffee/chocolate event called PullBrewMelt a couple of years ago, I have become a lot more picky about the things I drink.

In fact, you might even call me something of a coffee snob.

Though, as the name of the site would suggest, I still think of myself as something of a proto-coffee-snob.  My milk steaming skills are somewhat hit and miss, and I don’t have a super expensive machine, though I do own (at last count) six different machines for brewing different kinds of coffees.

Hopefully my relative newcomer level of skills won’t invalidate my thoughts on the quality of the coffees I’m talking about but then that’s the point of this blog.  There’s a hundred and one sites out there for people who are “in the know”, who know their honey-washed coffees from their dry-processed and their pour overs from their syphons, who will talk for hours on end about the specifics of coffees.

This blog is going to be pitched at the people just setting out and dipping their toes into this world, the folks who might need a bit of a helping hand in deciding what it is they like and where they should spend their money.  There’s a dizzying array of options out there, so I’m going to try and do my bit by working my way through as many UK (and occasionally overseas) roasters as I can.

I’m going to talk about the website design, the ordering process (and any issues I encounter), the packaging of the coffee, and finally I’ll talk about the actual coffee itself, what I think of it and what machines I think it will suit in the hope that this will help people to find something that will suit their budgets and their tastes.

I really do hope there’s some of you out there who find this blog useful and if you do then please drop me a comment and let me know!