October 16, 2013

Ethiopia › Fresh Crops › Kenya ›

Fresh Crops: Kabingara AA and Cult of Done v. 14

We’re very pleased to introduce a couple of new coffee offerings to the range. First up, the Kabingara AA from Kiringaya, Kenya. This coffee was harvested in December 2012 and kept in parchment right up to being dry milled and then immediately vacuum-sealed into 15kg bricks for shipping. These efforts have enabled the coffee to maintain a fresh and lively character, with superb aromatics and real clarity of flavour.

You’ll experience some classic Kenyan traits like a winey, blackcurrant acidity and a full, juicy body. Also, there are some wonderful rose hip aromatics that really fill out the cup.

Next up we have v.14 of the beloved Cult of Done Espresso. As with the La Ilusion, which made up 100% of v.13, we felt this coffee benefited from remaining unblended. That’s right, the Hunkute from Sidamo, Ethiopia needs no helping hand in creating a full, rich, aromatic espresso. We’ve really enjoyed having the Hunkute as a filter option, and after hitting upon the right roast profile, we’ve fallen in love with it all over again.


As an espresso you can expect some real honeyed sweetness with incredible floral aromatics! This coffee is surprisingly forgiving, and tastes treacly and wonderfully textural in a tighter, punchier shot. It then becomes incredibly elegant, silky and balanced when pulled slightly longer. In milk you’ll experience flavours of apricot jam, producing a very decadent cappuccino.

August 07, 2013

Fresh Crops ›

Fresh Crops: Santa Clara Espresso, Guatemala

After a hiatus of some months, we're back into production of a single origin espresso to run alongside our Cult of Done Espresso, and this time out it's a filter/espresso crossover: the Santa Clara Microlot from Guatemala that you've been loving as a filter roast is stepping out as an espresso, too.

We've pushed the roast just that little bit further, and brought out some extra richness and depth for this espresso version. Look for aromas of plum, flavours of milk chocolate, sweetness of cherry and a fig and hazelnut finish. We've been enjoying it most dosing at 18.5g, yielding 33g of espresso in 31-33 seconds (with a few seconds of pre-infusion), but don't take it as gospel.


[ Wholesale partners and guest accounts: your links are here -- ]

August 02, 2013

Behind the Curtain › Fresh Crops ›

Fresh Crops: Cult of Done Espresso -- Lucky 13


Our espresso blend, Cult of Done, is one that continues to develop and change, as seasons come and go, and fresh harvests arrive in Europe. It’s an espresso that constantly evolves and improves, and version 13 has taught us a very interesting lesson...

Originally, we’d planned on moving back to a blend. We’d gone as far as selecting two coffees, buying them, and moving them into the necessary warehouses. We brought a few bags to London and started test roasting, and then came to the first instance of actual espresso quality control. Each of the roasted coffees, pulled as espresso on their own, tasted wonderful. Different from each other, but delicious nonetheless. Blending them, however, was another matter altogether.

All sweetness, acidity and nuance from each component disappeared, replaced by a God-awful clash of flavours, and a noisy, abrasive, medicinal bitterness. No matter which test roasts we combined, or how we reworked the recipe, these coffees wrestled with each other in the cup, and the results were spectacularly unpleasant. Somewhat flummoxed (look it up), we weren’t quite sure what we were going to do with the tonnes of coffee in the warehouse, until our Clerkenwell Head Barista Ben suggested with staggering simplicity; don’t blend them -- just release one, and then release the other.

So, here it is: Chapter 1 of Lucky 13 -- comprised of 100% La Ilusion, El Salvador. This washed coffee from the volcanic Santa Ana region is part of a long-term project between Nordic Approach and El Salvadorian producer, Jose Antonio Salaverria, focusing on improving quality through changes to techniques in processing and drying, as well as more specific lot separation and traceability. The Salaverria family owns a number of farms in the Santa Ana region, geographically located around the central mill, Las Cruces -- also owned by the family.

In order to ensure that only the ripest cherries are harvested and brought for processing, well-trained farm workers are incentivised with monetary reward for the quality of their daily pickings. Each afternoon during the harvest season, the ripe coffee cherries are brought a few kilometres down the road from La Ilusion to the mill, where they’re processed using Jotagallo eco-pulping machines, which remove the cherry skins and about 70% of the sugary fruit flesh that cover the beans inside. An overnight soak in fresh water loosens the remaining fruit flesh, and the parchment coffee removed from the tanks comes out clean, bright and free of all mucilage residue.

The parchment coffee is then dried on a clay patio, being raked and turned periodically, as well as being piled up and covered at both the hottest part of the day and overnight to protect from over drying and rehydration respectively. The drying process is monitored closely and depending on climatic conditions usually takes between 8 and 10 days.

In the cup, you should be looking at this espresso as a staggeringly opposite counterpoint to the bright, juicy and vibrant characteristics of our most recent Cult of Done Espresso - Thunguri AB. Expect a fatter, deeper espresso with notes of toasted almond, baker’s chocolate, juicy cherry, warm butter and sweet, dense baked currants all contributing to a full, rich and satisfying cup.

From near disaster comes an espresso we’re absolutely delighted with, and the lucky 13th version of our Cult of Done, no less. Thanks Benny, and here endeth the lesson.

Cult of Done Espresso v13 starts roasting from Thursday August 8th.


Cult of Done Espresso - Lucky 13


Winging its way out to our Wholesale Partners over the next few days... preview samples of Cult of Done Espresso - Lucky 13. We're not saying what's in it just yet (how tremendously exciting...), and this may not be the exact final version. But it's well-rested, and ready to go, so just dial it in and enjoy it. And don't forget -- if you were a Wholesale Partner, this would be on its way to you, too.

July 25, 2013

Fresh Crops ›

Fresh Crops: Olke Bire, Ethiopia

Olke Bire

While we take great pride in all the coffees that we bring into our range, and share with our customers, Olke Bire, Ethiopia is certainly a special one, and a coffee we'll remember for a long time to come.

The coffee is named after the man in the photo above, Mr. Olke Bire; a coffee farmer and now washing station owner, located just outside the village of Suke, in the renowned Ethiopian coffee growing region, Yirgacheffe. Until recently, Mr. Bire just grew coffee cherries, and like other farmers in the region, sold them to a local trader at a fixed price, regardless of the quality of the cherries. By participating in a new programme ('One Farmer, One Roaster'), Mr. Bire has been encouraged to take out a small loan to finance his own washing station, allowing him to control the quality of the coffee from the tree, right down to the dried green seeds that we purchase from him. In this way, Mr. Bire can take control over how the coffee is grown, processed and dried, and most importantly -- how much the coffee sells for.


Through this program, we've been able to identify farmers and washing station owners that are committed to quality coffee production, and reward them financially for their superior quality. Last year's additional revenue allowed Mr. Bire to build a well on his land, cutting out the need for his family to walk a 6km round trip for fresh water.

Though unfortunately we arrived quite late at night, we were able to visit Mr. Bire's farm and washing station on a visit to Ethiopia in February this year, so we were delighted when the samples we took with us turned out to be of such great quality! Of more questionable quality was the local 'hotel' we stayed in that night, resplendent with cockroaches, bed bugs and toilets that flushed onto the floors... But that's a whole other blog post.

This coffee has a wonderfully silky mouthfeel, carrying fresh peach and Bergamot orange sweetness. It was a very small lot, and we secured just 10 bags, so don't take too long to get your hands on this one.

Fresh Crops: Gichathaini AA


Another coffee that we're very proud to be showcasing this year, and one that is really standing out on cupping tables and domestic kitchen benches alike, is the Gichathaini AA, Kenya. Again, we were fortunate enough to visit the Gichathaini factory a few months ago, not only to look at the facilities for coffee production, but to sit down with the managers of the co-operative society that runs the factory and to talk about what our coffee purchases mean to them.

photo 1

In addition, we were shown through an on-site nursery, growing a range of coffee varieties; from the more usual SL-28 and SL-34, right through to newer, experimental varieties such as Batian -- a more disease and drought resistant cultivar. These seedlings will be nurtured here until they're ready to be sold on to the co-operative member farmers at a heavily subsidised price.

Gichathaini has produced consistently excellent coffee for many years now, and as a result, it's a name that crops up on the offer sheets of great roasters all around the world. While often we're hoping to carry coffees that people are less familiar with, the bright, super-sweet rhubarb characteristics evident in this particular lot meant it was a coffee we couldn't pass up.

We're currently serving this coffee on Aeropress, and have retail bags available in both our stores, as well as online at in our Dispensary. Don't miss out.

July 06, 2013

Fresh Crops › Kenya › Sourcing ›

Fresh Crops: Thunguri AA

This is a coffee we're really excited about.

Thunguri - Driveway

Over the last couple of months, we've spent a good amount of time in Africa, travelling between Kenya, Ethiopia and Rwanda visiting producers, millers and exporters, to get more of an understanding about the challenges and opportunities inherit to a producing part of the world we're huge fans of.

In February we went to Thunguri - a wet mill (or 'factory'), where coffee farmers in the neighbouring area bring ripe cherries for processing into the raw, green beans for us to purchase. Located in Nyeri, Kenya, and owned by the Rumukia Co-operative Society, Thunguri is a staggeringly beautiful place to visit, surrounded by agriculturally subdivided hillsides, where macadamia nuts drop from the trees, ready for cracking between two rocks, and immediate consumption.


Thunguri Macadamia


Back in Nairobi some days later, we tasted through a number of different lots, looking for one that stood out as our favourite. We chose CK170202; a code meaning that the coffee was sent to Central Kenya Coffee Mills (CK), in the seventeenth week of the season (17) on truck number 0202. After dry milling and vacuum sealing into 15kg bricks for transit, the coffee was ready to be moved to Mombassa by truck, and shipped to us in London, via Oslo.

And that's the coffee that we're excited to share with you now: Thunguri AA -- a wonderfully sweet, full and complex coffee, with a candy-like, sugary blackberry sweetness, and a defining stone fruit acidity. Available in both of our stores now, or delivered to your home or office via our Dispensary, there's limited stocks so don't miss out.

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