Hello again folks.
I’m back sooner than expected with this review, but the issues I had with my grinder sadly meant a lot of the Goldstone blend ended up in my knockout box and then into the garden for my plants. I found myself between orders, waiting for one to arrive from Fire Station Coffee in Suffolk. So, in the meantime I went to my local Waitrose to see what was on offer as they’ve usually got a pretty decent selection of whole bean coffees.
I chose a bag from Union Coffee as I’ve not really tried their coffees before, though I was aware of them as a roastery, and had chatted to someone at their stand at the London Coffee Festival earlier this year. They appear to be one of the larger UK coffee roasters, based in London.
As well as coffee and brewing equipment, they also offer training courses. I actually hope to attend one of these courses myself at some point to work on improving my milk texturing and presentation. My latte art is…well…it’s not great. Really not great. There are those who witness it who say they will be forever changed by the abominations I’ve left in their mugs. Burn it, they say. Burn it all. Cleanse the…ahem. Sorry about that.
But anyway, let’s move on to the review of the coffee itself!
I can’t exactly talk about the buying process in this specific review as I purchased it from a local supermarket, but there’s a few things I can bring up.
I decided to try the “Natural Spirit” blend because, as stated before, I tend to veer away from really dark roast blends so this one sounded like a good choice.
I really like that they put a roasting date on the bags, you hardly ever see that in shop-bought coffee. So as you can see, this one is roughly two months old which is getting up there for coffee, you ideally want it to be less than a month for the best flavour.
I reached out to Union on Twitter (@UnionRoasted) to ask if they had an idea about how long it takes their coffee to reach supermarket shelves from roasting. They confirmed that it can be as little as a week from roasting to being sent to the shops, but then it’s entirely dependent on that shop’s stock rotation schedule. So it’s possible I could have found one more fresh if I’d looked at every bag, or gone somewhere else.
If you want the beans fresh, you can go to Union direct through their website and order them there. as they roast to order. I’ll definitely try that sometime soon, I think, and update my review with my thoughts on that order.
Interesting they also state that you should store your beans in the freezer to keep them fresh, I know a lot of sites that would vehemently disagree with that! I’m ambivalent about the whole thing, honestly, but my preference is either in the hopper of my grinder, or in the original packaging on my kitchen counter.
I was a little surprised when I opened the bag as the beans were darker than I was expecting. Sadly, the light in my kitchen doesn’t entirely put that across in the photo above. There was a lovely, rich smell on opening the bag, but it was harder to detect specific notes. It was very…coffee smelling. I suspect again that this is the price you pay for buying at the supermarket.
That said, it made a lovely shot with a heck of a crema on it! This is another coffee I would strongly recommend be used for milk-based drinks. As an americano it was perfectly nice, but really nothing I would write home about. I really struggled to detect any of the tasting notes that the bag suggests and instead I just had a very nice but very forgettable mug of coffee.
As a latte it was richer, but noticeably….LESS than the coffees I’ve had before it. The flavours were muted and while it was, again, a lovely cup of coffee, the tasting notes were much harder to detect. There was a hint of toffee, but the lemon was completely lost.
I am aware I’m being a little unfair to Union with this review as all the other coffees arrived fresh and were all used within two weeks of being opened and I’m comparing those to a supermarket coffee which is never going to be as fresh. But as so many of us DO go to our local Tesco, Asda or Waitrose for our coffee, I felt it wouldn’t be fair for me to only cover artisan roasters as not everyone will go to them.
That said, as mentioned above, I will place an online order for this same coffee and will update this review with my findings!
To sum up, if you ARE shopping in your local Waitrose, I’d definitely recommend Union over Lyons or Lavazza or the like. It’s lovely, tasty and you can clearly see when it was roasted so you can rummage to try and get the freshest bag you can. If I find myself between coffee orders then I’d definitely pick this one again.
I hope there’s some of you out there who find this review helpful and I’ll be back soon.