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Give decaf a chance

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Decaffeinated coffee has a bad rep. Part of coffee’s delight is the caffeine, a powerful drug that wakes us up in the morning and keeps us awake when working to deadlines and the to-do list is growing. The coffee plant is naturally caffeinated. Best guesses as to why plants have caffeine is to protect it from pests such as insects and fungi, but clearly not us humans.

The higher the altitude of the plants the less caffeine plants produce and this is where some of the best coffee in the world is grown. Plants grown at or higher than 1600 metres are often called natures decaffeinated. Robusta coffee is grown at a much lower altitude, has a high yield, and mostly goes into instant coffee but has the highest amount of caffeine of all coffee. Some coffee blends include Robusta for the very reason of upping the caffeine levels. However, if it was all about the caffeine then we wouldn’t be growing Arabica at all; caffeine has a very bitter taste. Good quality coffee is clearly about more than just the caffeine, it’s about the flavour. Decaffeinated coffee isn’t typically known for its flavour, however this has changed.

Decaffeination process.

Unlike more commonly used methods of decaffeinating coffee, The Swiss Water Process by Ten Peaks Coffee doesn’t use chemicals such as methylene chloride or ethyl acetate to get the caffeine out of the beans. Instead it uses a process of washing and filtering to leave coffee beans 99.9% caffeine free. The lack of chemicals also means the taste isn’t altered radically. It does taste differently but not like chemicals or of anything you may have experienced years ago. The swiss water processed beans that we have tried have been only slightly mellower in taste than its caffeinated equivalent.

Reasons to drink decaf

Many of us have felt the effects of too much caffeine so we enforce rules on ourselves such as no caffeine after midday; pregnant women are advised to stay away from caffeine due to possible birth defects; and Crohn’s, Ulcerative Colitis, and IBS sufferers find the toxic nature of caffeine hard to digest. Caffeine increases the heart rate which is great just before exercise and studies have shown coffee decreases the chance of developing heart disease, but will adversely affect those with existing heart conditions.

Addiction to caffeine is very real and headaches are a very common side effect if you haven’t had your fix. Insomnia affects a large part of the population at some time in their life, and since caffeine suppresses the breakdown of adrenaline, being stuck in the ‘fight or flight’ state will not help you to sleep.

Just like with caffeine, a lot of us want to cut down alcohol for health benefits; decaf in the evenings gives you your favourite morning drink but without the caffeine side-effects. Swapping a high calorie drink such as beer (180 calories) or wine (85 calories in red wine) for black coffee which has only 2 calories is also great for weight control along with no alcohol side effects but still allows you to have something more enjoyable and indulgent than sipping water all evening.

Summary

Very soon, having great decaf coffee in will just be like you would have caffeinated coffee on offer. Many companies are recognising that clients coming in to their office want a choice of beverage, and visiting friends and relatives (especially over the upcoming festive period), having a decaf coffee alternative impresses. You no longer have to say sheepishly ‘is instant OK?’.

So many great things are happening with coffee at the moment, including improvements in the quality of decaf after an increase in demand. It’s not the inferior ‘I’ll drink it because there is nothing else’ beverage any more.

There are a range of beans that work well with all brewing methods. A decaf espresso will open your eyes to a whole new world of coffee for any time of the day and we highly recommend it.

The Roasting House have a Swiss Water decaffeinated Classic Colombian in stock with good body, balanced acidity, and a rich, sweet, lingering finish.

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Coffee Club. Week 19. Costa Rica, Hermosa SHB, Dota, Tarrazu. Micro lots

This week’s coffee club beans are from Costa Rica

Coffee rust fungus

Costa Rica, Hermosa SHB, Dota, Tarrazu. Micro lots

That gum you like is going to come back in style

This week for the Roasting House it has been about the reboot. We were excited to learn a favourite show of ours, Twin Peaks is coming back in 2015 and that Ghostbusters 3 will have all women ‘manning’ the proton packs.

We’ve also restocked a couple of old favourite coffees with the Mexico Reserva & Organic Gems of Araku. So to continue the trend we decided to end the week by bringing back another favourite from week 2 of the coffee club; Hermosa, SHB from the Tarrazu Region in Costa Rica although these are from the end of the harvest season with Week 2 (March 2014) being from the beginning.

Costa Rica suffered from Rust Fungus on coffee plants in 2013, bringing down production by about 10%. The image at the top of this email shows the effect of coffee rust. Thankfully the steps taken to bring the disease under control have increased the later 2014’s harvest.

Typically, the Tarrazu region’s harvest is between December and March when small micro farms under the name Cafecoop co-operative under the name Hermosa (meaning beautiful or gorgeous in Spanish) send their beans to auction. We decided to bag some of the last beans of the 2013-2014 harvest due to the popularity of these beans last time.

You probably won’t recall the taste of these beans from the first time around, however if you did, you may notice a small difference in flavour. The taste of coffee is impacted by weather and the conditions it is exposed to so minor weather variations in the weather mean minor variations in taste of the beans. We also decided to roast these beans in a slightly darker style than the first time around.

Roasting and tasting notes

The beans are labelled Viennese roast, but they are really something between a Viennese and an Espresso – slightly darker than a typical Viennese but not quite an Espresso. We decided to take it slightly over the Viennese to bring out the richness of the bean without overwhelming it with smokiness. This brought out a bittersweet taste to the sweet, mellow, citrus beans. It makes for a delicious, rich espresso.

Flavours:

• Sweet
• Mellow
• Mild citrus notes
• Honey
• Spicy after-taste

What do you think?

Let us know what you think in our Tumblr comments, on Twitter,or on our Facebook page. Buy here.

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Image bourbon coffee plant by Marcelo Corrêa via wikimedia commons

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Why we sell whole beans and not ground

After flirting with the idea of offering ground coffee in 2013, we decided after a small trial run not to do so.

Although this made anti-business sense on paper as the pre-ground market is bigger than whole bean, and being a new business where every new sale mattered (and still does), this might seem like coffee snobbery. However we’re coffee lovers, not coffee snobs!

After roasting and degassing, the coffee bean is ready to be broken down and the goodness extracted into water. Breaking down that bean earlier than the point of brew exposes the chemicals to air, and the oils dry off. The longer it is left ground, the more of its goodness it is losing even if sealed in an airtight or one-way valve bag. A few hours after being ground, the coffee will never be the same again.

We are proud of the coffee we roast and the service we give. We don’t want this to be negated by giving you sub-standard coffee. We specially roast our coffee to order so you get it super fresh, pre-grinding it means you would lose that benefit.

We want to encourage you to grind your own so we spent time looking at cheap and capable grinders for all types of brews. Until recently we had in stock the Hario Skerton Mill hand grinder from Japan for £34.95 which met the criteria along with being a worthy investment that won’t break the bank. It will do all grinds from fine espresso to coarse filter. Our only negative point is the small burrs which take a few more turns to grind the beans compared to more expensive larger burr grinders. But the trade-off is a 75-90% price difference and stronger arm muscles.

Once you grind your own you will never look back. The taste difference is noticeable and when combined with the different types of beans available, a whole new world of great tasting coffee is opened up to you.

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Coffee Bulking

We don’t and will never bulk out our coffee with other substances

Something that has recently caught our attention here at The Roasting House is ‘coffee bulking’. Coffee bulking is when coffee suppliers bulk out coffee with cheaper substances. These include but aren’t limited to soil, twigs, corn, flour and anything you could imagine reasonably hiding in a bag of coffee. Coffee bags are opaque so when they are sitting on a shop shelf, all you have is the feel and the smell which gives no indication that anything but coffee is in the bag.

Coffee prices have gone up this year and are predicted to continue to rise in 2015 (due to a bad 2014 harvest in the world’s largest coffee producer, Brazil and surrounding areas) and this is the reason for this dirty trick.

It is more commonly done to ground coffee as it is harder to tell if adulterants have been added when it is all ground down. Ground coffee is a bad idea from the start but I understand why people buy it. There is the convenience and how much better can coffee be by grinding your own? The answer is fresh and much better but that discussion is for another time.

We have been victim to coffee bulking ourselves albeit in a different form, from coffee farms including small stones to add weight to shipping bags (60kg in hessian are standard). It’s impossible for importers to check before haulage; it’s only when you start to break down the bag for roasting you notice the stones.

We would obviously never pass this on to customers and we will never buy from that farm again without some solid assurances first.

The clue is in the cost

We know how much raw coffee costs. The cheapest Robusta to the best Arabica has a price difference over 1000% (one thousand percent). The difference is evident in the taste. Most Robusta goes to instant coffee, lower grade to multinational roasters, and the premium to ‘third wave’ coffee roasters – previously known as ‘snobs’ but now accepted as in the know.

You can get bargains. The small plucky upstart farm promising excellent grade coffee but can’t command a premium price because they are without reputation do exist, but are few in number. However, if it is that excellent then hosting an event to the best cuppers is probably worth the expense to prove your claim.

Next time you see bags of coffee claiming to be premium but are on offer at a price that seems too cheap, then question it. Ask for information on the providence of the coffee and do a bit of reserch. There are some small farms that don’t have much information but usually there will be something online, often cupping reports. That question could lead to a ‘yes, this is a legit bargain’ but coffee roasting is a business of tight margins. Rarely will you see roasters able to offer large discounts because the price charged is representive of the costs which right now are only going up. However great coffee is the reward. A coffee bag with little to no information about the bean used or roasting date potentially means the roaster cares little about what goes into the bag.

Trust but ask questions of your local roaster as they want your business and recommendations to friends & family.

One of the best ways to make sure that you are buying pure coffee is to buy whole beans and grind your own as its impossible to hide anything else in whole bean coffee. There could be something hidden in the bag of course but you’ll soon spot it so there’s no risk of you consuming something nasty.

Because we roast in small batches, we can always tell exactly what goes in to the roaster and then in to each bag. In the comparatively unlikely event that there are hidden stones bulking up our green

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The Roasting House

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A fresh bag of coffee is now The Roasting House

For a while now we have been thinking of changing our name. Although we’re a fan of the descriptive and literal names, while A Fresh Bag of Coffee does say what we do, it is a bit of a mouthful to say and not the most memorable. We thought of a few different names and had some input from friends, and in the end, The Roasting House won over. It is simple, far easier to say out loud and, we think, easier to remember. It also better represents our ambitions to grow and eventually open up a roasting house so that our customers can come and see their coffee being freshly roasted. It also meant we got to make use of the new top level .house domain to become roasting.house. There’s something pleasing in the simplicity of that domain.

We also have a lovely new logo. Again we’ve gone for simplicity while still representing what we do. I’m not sure you could represent what we do any better than with a coffee bean and a bike.

We hope you like it. Comments welcome.

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Yellow Jersey offers

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Yellow Jersey offers for July 2014

If you know anything else about us other than selling coffee, it is probably that we love cycling. So of course we are very excited to see the world’s top cycling event starting on Sunday 5th July once again on UK shores and in roaster Adam’s home county of Yorkshire with the 2nd stage finishing in his home city of Sheffield. Offers will run the final stage in Paris on Sunday 27th July. Exciting times indeed!

To celebrate we will be bringing you some offers throughout the tour:

Yellow jersey discount

The yellow jersey is given to the General Classification leader at the end of each stage. Whenever a British rider is wearing the yellow jersey we will offer:

20% off our Daterra Bourbon Yellow.

This gives a sweet, clean espresso (a double espresso is a pre-ride drink favoured by many pro-cyclists).

We expect to be giving this offer out a lot as we have a couple of British cyclists with very good chances of claiming the yellow jersey in several stages starting with the very first stage.

Hill and mountain offers

The race for the polka dot king of the mountains jersey is as fierce as the yellow jersey and offers some of the most exciting racing you can see.

During mountain stage days we will offer 20% off our specialist coffee from an awarding winning farm grown at the highest altitude we’ve ever had in – http://www.afreshbagofcoffee.co.uk/product/colombia-yellow-bourbon-las-margaritas-la-esperanza-200g Colombia Yellow Bourbon Las Margaritas – La Esperanza grown at 1550-1650 metres.

Mountain stages are:

Stage 10. 14th July from Mulhouse to La Planche des Belles Filles (161 km)
Stage 13. 18th July from Saint-Étienne to Chamrousse (200 km)
Stage 14. 19th July from Grenoble to Risoul (177 km)
Stage 16. 22nd July from Carcassonne to Bagnères-de-Luchon (237 km)
Stage 17. 23rd July from Saint-Gaudens to Saint-Lary-Soulan Pla d’Adet (125 km)
Stage 18. 24th July from Pau to Hautacam (145 km)

Similarly during hill stage days we will offer 20% off our coffee grown at the second highest altitude – http://www.afreshbagofcoffee.co.uk/product/malawi-geisha-ab-viphya-200g Viphya AB from Malawi grown at 1600 metres over looking Malawi Lake.

Hill stages are:

Stage 2. 6th July from York to Sheffield (198 km)
Stage 4. 8th July from Le Touquet-Paris-Plage to Lille (164 km)
Stage 8. 12th July from Tomblaine to Gérardmer La Mauselaine (161 km)
Stage 9. 13th July from Gérardmer to Mulhouse (166 km)
Stage 12. 17th July from Bourg-en-Bresse to Saint-Étienne (183 km)

Offers are subject to availability. Look out for jersey markings on product photos for discounted coffee. Discount will be automatically applied on product listing. Voucher codes will still work on top of on sale items so remember to use ‘NottsCoffee’ for free delivery in Nottingham, UK.

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Guatemala SHB, Swiss Water DECAFFEINATED

Guatemala Strictly Hard Bean that has been decaffeinated by Swiss Water who are the leading name in decaff specialty coffee beans.

Swiss Water remove caffeine not by chemicals but a process of washing and filtering.

Roasting these beans were interesting for us. It’s the first time we’ve ever tried decaffeinated; roasting only suits Viennese (dark) and Espresso (very dark) roast. As an espresso it produced a medium crema. The grind was quite hard but after some force with the hand grinder there was a consistent powder.

We tasted a nutty and sweet flavour and maybe it was just our tastes buds used to caffeine but we preferred using a higher volume than we normally use.

These beans are available now with A fresh bag of coffee at £8.50 for 200g. If you live in Nottingham use voucher code NottsDelivery to get free delivery.

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Will I play the chain-goer? no, never, no more

Song came on and couldn’t help thinking it could be adopted to coffee chain-goer.

To the tune of The Wild Rover. About a boy who will never play the chain-goer again.

And it’s no, nay, never
No, nay, never, no more
Will I play the chain-goer
No, never, no more

I’ve been chain-goer for many the years
And I’ve spent all my money on frappichinos from fear
That going to an independent they’ll ask me for more
But the truth is it’s better and they care for us all.

And it’s no, nay, never
No, nay, never, no more
Will I play the chain-goer
No, never, no more

I went into a starbucks I used to frequent
And I asked the barista how my money was spent
Does it help locals services? she answered me “Nay,
our franchise is offshore but we’ll take your custom anyway”

And it’s no, nay, never
No, nay, never, no more
Will I play the chain-goer
No, never, no more

I took from my pocket, ten sovereigns bright
And I remembered the independent down the road on the right
The cafe had espressos, flat whites and rest
With happier baristas that made my beverage the best

And it’s no, nay, never
No, nay, never, no more
Will I play the chain-goer
No, never, no more

And it’s no, nay, never
No, nay, never, no more
Will I play the chain-goer
No, never, no more

I go to home my parents, confessed what I’d done
And I asked to pardon their prodigal son
And when they caressed me as oft times before
Now I will never play the chain-goer no more

And it’s no, nay, never
No, nay, never, no more
Will I play the chain-goer
No, never, no more

And it’s no, nay, never
No, nay, never, no more
Will I play the chain-goer
No, never, no more

Adam – a fresh bag of coffee

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On sale: Rainforest Alliance Blend, Honduras

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A fresh bag of coffee have reduced the price of their Rainforest Alliance Blend, Honduras beans to make room for the new Daterra beans in stock.

Normal price is £6.35 for a 200g bag but are on offer at £5.35. Use code NottsDelivery to get free shipping if you live in Nottingham, UK.

Once they are gone, they’re gone. Afboc recommend an Viennese (dark) roast but work well with all roast levels. Fruity with hints of caramel they are an excellent all rounder.