Our Head Roaster Simon journeyed back to the Land of the Long White Cloud - New Zealand. New Zealand prides itself on being a front runner in the coffee world, but as a Kiwi in London we shall see how the two compare! Here is what he has to say:
April and May were intensely caffeinated months with coffee professionals descending on Seattle and London for the biggest industry festivals ever seen. As amazing as both of these cities are, I went in the completely opposite direction with a trip to my own origin, New Zealand. Having spent more than two years away it was a chance to reacquaint myself with the infamous coffee culture and learn about changes in the industry from some pioneering thinkers.
With Climpson's ex-top model/roaster Matt Symons as a guide I managed to loosely meet many of the top roasters and barista's in a single night with an open cupping event at La Marzocco's newest Auckland showroom. As a secluded set of islands at the bottom of the world New Zealand could be forgiven if it lost track of worldwide coffee trends. La Marzocco seem set on ensuring this doesn't happen, bringing back a piece of the Seattle SCAA event and presenting a cupping table with a huge range of US roasters.
Auckland's other new kid on the block is Framework Coffee, headed up by London legends, John Gordon and Jess MacDonald. They were nice enough to show me around their new roastery and warehouse where the initial dream of wholesale roasting has evolved into a new specialty green coffee import and education wonderland. Many New Zealand roasters had commented on the huge expense of sourcing higher quality green coffee citing a lack of offerings, astronomical shipping costs and the last choice in green coffee that was often past-crop and ageing. Framework have only just begun sourcing and importing but with so much experience emerging roasters will soon have much better access to a higher standard of green coffee.
Improvements in brewing and roasting technology were also taking hold with my collective best friends Cropster and the refractometer showing up across the country. Cupping with the lovely people at Kokako and Coffee Lab (pictured) highlighted a dedication to the global shift away from bitter-espresso towards lighter roasting and more delicate flavour development. The bowl-lattes of yore are a diminishing minority, now making way for the aeropress and chemex aficionados.
No trip beyond East-London is complete without the input from the wider Climpson family and thanks to some very generous people we were able to present coffees from NZ roasters Rocket, Red Rabbit, Flight, Eight-Thirty, Coffee Lab, Espresso Workshop and Kokako at the May-edition of our open cupping events. By a show of hands the winners on the night were Rocket's Ethiopia Kochere and Coffee Lab's Natural Yirgacheffe. A quick QC project the next day also declared these two roasts most akin to our preferences in roast development, extraction and, most importantly, taste. Quite notably, both companies had looked abroad and sourced from some of the respected international coffee merchants we also work with.
Having already influenced cafe culture around the world, New Zealanders are now taking notice of new shifts in coffee production and consumption and beginning to put their own spin on it. Some savvy branding and decent scenery don’t hurt either...
coffee in NZ is pretty alright, eh?
Simon Clark, Head Roaster