In light of the current coronavirus situation, we thought it would be helpful to create a virtual noticeboard of sorts, where we can share some of the amazing initiatives and support our wider Climpsons family.
The chemical reaction that turns green coffee brown
Today, we are going to look at two of the chemical and physical reactions that occur in the coffee roasting process. These reactions change raw green coffee from a pale green colour the density of a pebble, to a medium brown colour with a brittle structure. This allows it to be ground, brewed and consumed.
Shirani Gunawardena and Christian Steenberg began Indochina Coffee in 2015 when living in Bangkok, redrawing the speciality coffee map to showcase South East Asian coffees in the UK and Europe. Building relationships with coffee producers through Myanmar, China and the Phillipines, we’ve worked with these two over the last few years to bring the best of the region's speciality coffee to Climpsons, including our most recent edition of The Fields - Ywangan from Myanmar. After working in equality, human rights and social justice, Indochina strive to ensure fairness and transparency across the supply chain, staying true to the Climpsons ethos of developing long-term, sustainable relationships with farmers and producers.
We’ve had the chance to pick Christian and Shirani’s brain on what it means to be an ethical coffee business in 2020 and what to expect from the region in the coming years.
After hearing rumours within the speciality coffee industry that low pressure produces much more consistent and delicious espresso, we set out to uncover some of the science behind why this may be the case. Rather than relying upon anecdotal evidence, we had initially aimed to link taste, extraction theory and data to provide concrete justification for lowering your machine pressure from 9 bar to 6 bar.
Not love at first sip
I have always loved coffee, for as long as I can remember. But I have not always loved beer. At uni, beer was lager and was just a means to an end. I did not enjoy it in the slightest. In fact, I enjoyed it so little, that I stopped drinking it entirely until my 30s. As I got wiser, I got into tasting beer through a former colleague who had been a brewer in a past job. He brought with him to his newfangled coffee career a desire to educate people about the greatness that is craft beer. All this talk of coffee and beer piqued my interest and I began to see that beer was truly a magic potion that I had to explore.
I was lucky enough to visit Guatemala this year and visit our long-time coffee producer partner, the Bressani Family of Finca San Jeronimo. Our relationship with them goes back to 2016 and we were one of the first to buy his specialty coffees through Coffee Bird in the UK. At the time, I thought it was a delightful Guatemalan coffee with some great aspects of social, environmental and economic practices. A great story.
However, upon visiting earlier this year, my expectations were surpassed and many assumptions were blown out of the water. It has profoundly changed the way I think about coffee and what ‘sustainability’ actually is - and isn’t.
Emily is the Roastery Operations Manager & Production Roaster here at Climpson & Sons - and quite possibly the most interesting person, in a company full of interesting people. It would take a book to cover her life story thus far, but until she writes it, we’ll have to stick to an abridged version of her coffee experience.
Coffee roasting can at times seem to be something of a magical and mysterious process, so we thought it was high time that we caught up with Emily to help demystify coffee roasting and talk micro roasting at home.
By Kieran Lamont
At Climpsons we’ve been spending some time looking at different water filtration options from high end reverse osmosis systems all the way down to our local London tap water, as well as a couple of popular bottled water options and filtering jugs to cater for the home user too. This research culminated in us hosting a public cupping to test 8 different waters with the same coffee to demonstrate the different ways that water can affect flavour. This blog post is about the considerations that went into our selection of each water and other implications that choosing specific waters can present.
We approached it with three main requirements in mind: taste, cost and sustainability. The aim of our work was to be able to offer the home user affordable options for brewing as well as offering insight into the best style of filters for coffee shops, both from the perspective of quality and machine protection.
You may find yourself working behind a coffee bar and know how to make a good coffee but not much about why it is good? Or you may find yourself having no industry experience at all, but love coffee and want to learn the craft?
At some point in every coffee lover’s and barista’s career there’s the need for validating knowledge or learning new skills. The Specialty Coffee Association - SCA - curriculum is the best way of doing this, as it is recognised by the coffee industry the world over. It is also a comprehensive and methodical programme which covers all things coffee in depth.
We caught up with Dan Dunne, Head of Training at Climpsons, to talk about the best way of approaching formal coffee training. You may have seen Dan judging at SCA competitions, and if you are lucky you will have caught him after hours with a guitar in hand - rumour has it that he sold his soul to play the blues.
Image courtesy of SCA UK
I have been known to have a cynicism towards competing and competitions over my time in coffee, wearing my disqualification (DQ) in the 2016 UKBC heats as some kind of badge of honour. However, being involved with my colleague Lisa-Laura Verhoest’s successful 2018 UK Brewers cup win and subsequently travelling to Brazil for the worlds changed all that. I saw first hand the hard work that goes into competing, the mental capacity and creativity it requires, not to mention the bravery of just putting yourself on the line like that. I found it all inspiring and energising.
We’ve conducted an experiment - so that you don’t have to - by brewing the same coffee four different ways, to study how different brew methods develop or highlight different coffee characteristics.
So, which coffee will we be brewing four different ways? It can only be this exciting natural from Myanmar - which happened to be our first ever coffee from Myanmar and a strong contender for staff favourite. This is the perfect candidate as it’s a.) delicious, b.) a natural and bursting with flavour, and c.) each brew method brings out something different and interesting.
For each of the four brew methods, we’ll provide a recipe, quick brew instructions (full brew guides including videos here) and our impressions - while the tasting notes may be similar, some methods will highlight different flavours and both body and acidity will see big changes.
We sat down with Ashok Dias founder and tea buyer at Tea Drop. Ashok and our very own Danny Davies go way back to 2005. Ashok is as passionate about tea as we are about coffee, so we thought it would be a good time to sit down and have a chat to learn more about why speciality tea is a must-have addition to the beverage menu.
Myanmar (Burma) is very new to the specialty coffee industry, with the first exportation of speciality coffee beginning in 2016. The quality of these coffees is very high and we're excited to finally be able to offer a Myanmar single origin.
The country has been troubled recently, with the UN calling the government's treatment of the Rohingya people in the western state of Rakhine ongoing genocide. Indochina Coffee are confident that their direct-trade genuinely benefits the farmers they work with. This area of Myanmar used to be mostly opium, switching to specialty coffee is better for the environment and the long-term livelihoods of the farmers.
Credit: Indochina Coffee
We spoke to Christian from Indochina Coffee about what makes coffee from Myanmar stand out amongst other Asian countries.
Batch brew may possibly be the least sexy brew method out there, but damn is it convenient — not to mention cost-effective and consistent, whether you’re brewing it in your cafe, office, or at home.
At Climpson’s we’re not just about the coffee. With the holidays finished the dreaded month of January is upon us. Prepare yourself for the onslaught of new vows to health, eager exercisers, dry months, and fad diets. We cannot recommend any of these things, new gym membership will be used exactly three times in the second week of January, and no one actually makes it to the end of January dry.
What we can recommend is matcha. The traditional Japanese powdered tea has great health benefits and is an easy way to slot a bit of health into your every day and detox from the outrageous overindulgence of the holidays.
Silly season is the perfect time to get a bit boozy before the inevitable health kick in January. For the ultimate winter kick, combine your booze with coffee to make sure that you don’t get too sleepy whilst Christmas shopping or hanging with the relatives. Check out the Climpson’s guide to the best coffee cocktails and how to make them at home — just never give Aunt Doris more than two.
Welcome back guys! Have you recovered yet?
Matt: Only just, silly season is upon us and we’re straight back into full on work. It’s nice to get a chance like this to reflect upon the experience properly.
LL: I think so. It’s actually quite good to be back and catch up with life and work, not to mention having the full brain capacity to do so.
How did you go about all of this? How do you prepare for the world stage?
If you don’t love eating and drinking to your heart’s content each Christmas then we can’t really help you. Whilst there’s nothing wrong with over-consumption, give yourself and the people you love a lift this Christmas by buying them something that will actually help them reduce their consumption. Don’t let the Grinch steal Christmas with this list of more sustainable choices. A win for the gift giver, a win for the receiver and a win for the world!
Would you be able to describe the best coffee you’ve ever had? Maybe it’s because coffee has been around for centuries, it’s easy to overlook the complexities in a good cup of coffee. After all, coffee tastes like… coffee, right?
In this journal entry, we’ll provide an introduction to tasting coffee and break down what makes our taste buds go ‘parteeeeeey’.
Running a busy cafe can be a mixed blessing. During busier than normal times like weekends or holidays, queues can form quickly. As coffee orders pile up customers will have to wait longer, inevitably things can and will go wrong, and cafe staff will be feeling the added pressure to keep up — nobody wins.
To avoid manic-cafe-stress-syndrome we present to you 5 cafe tips to managing a cafe during busy times and greeting everyone with a smile.
or the second year in a row, the Climpson’s van followed the epic Blue Marine Foundation charity cycle ride from London to Monaco. All to raise awareness and funds for Blue and their ocean conservation projects.
Oceans and bikes? Coffee and oceans? We joined forces with Blue because the future of our very industry is at risk with climate change. Our rainwater, drinking water, weather, climate, coastlines, much of our food, and even the oxygen in the air we breathe, are all ultimately provided and regulated by the sea. All the things that go into producing coffee. For us, this is a real opportunity to help with a cause that is bigger than ourselves and bigger than just our industry.
Over the road from Climpson’s Arch on Helmsley Place, owner Ian Burgess has been hard at work over the last few months shaping our new space into our Head Office and purpose-built Training Academy. We will be hosting a range of barista training, SCA barista training, as well as keeping the office team working hard upstairs.
While Daterra’s scale and consistency never cease to amaze us it is their smaller wet mill, dedicated to producing their Masterpiece micro lots that let them get truly creative in tailoring new flavours and experimenting with processing techniques. This year we had taken on the challenge of working with a small plot to see where alternative processing could lead us.
Coffees from Brazil make up a huge part of the Climpson & Sons menu and, in terms of sourcing, this is easily our largest origin of focus. The Baron, our inimitable Classic Espresso, is sourced entirely from Daterra whilst we also work with other Brazilian producers to source Broadway Blend components, full-bodied filter coffees and also cater for many of our bespoke customers. We aim to visit our partners in Brazil every year to gauge their feelings on the current harvest and learn from recent challenges and innovation brought about by the uncertain nature of agriculture. When it comes to tasting through the hundreds of samples we can make more informed choices and piece together the multiple containers that will be shipped our way later in the year. With just a week to make our way across the sprawling State of Minas Gerais sleep was secondary to a whirlwind of farm visits, cupping labs, export mills and catch ups with old friends!
If you’re new to speciality coffee — or even if you’re an old hat or a pro — it’s still easy to be baffled by some of the things you find on a label for speciality coffee. Don’t fear, we’re here to try and demystify some of those elusive terms and help you understand labels and pick coffee better.
The different information you can find on labels will help you work out if you’re going to like the coffee and if it’s suitable for how you tend to make your coffee. If you’re buying in person then asking is always a great idea to get a recommendation or even a taste, but perhaps you’re fiercely independent or just want to know how to do this for yourself. Let’s go over some of the things featured on labels and how to work out what they mean.
Is Your Water Ruining Your Coffee?
Water in the coffee world is often overlooked and taken for granted, but its impact on how your coffee tastes shouldn’t be understated. Especially considering that the majority of your coffee is made up of water and the composition of water will influence extraction. You can have the world’s best coffee but if you are pulling espresso shots with, or adding water that is not going to bring out the best out of your coffee then you are setting yourself up for disappointment. The good news is that it is something that is easy to fix, will improve your coffee and save you money and heartache in the long run.
Located on Goldsmith Row opposite Hackney City Farm, between Broadway Market and Hackney Road, sits Haggerston Perk — a newly opened speciality cafe serving great coffee and delicious lunches Monday to Friday.