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