Blog - Coffee Guides

What’s the best coffee to enjoy in the summer months?

What’s the best coffee to enjoy in the summer months?

With summer so readily upon us, it’s about time we prepared ourselves. For most of us in the UK, I’m pretty sure much of this preparation will be for disappointment. However, there’s always a small chance that we’ll have some nice weather coming our way, so now’s the perfect time to position yourself one step ahead of the game! 

Many of us will be planning on entertaining guests. Stocking up on food is the first thing that springs to mind, but before you lather yourself in sun cream and attempt to remember how to operate the barbecue, we urge you to have a tactical think about what refreshments you might need. In particular, we’d like to focus on our favourite refreshment… coffee!

Of course, there’s a strong chance you’ll be opting for iced coffee – this is a great way of transforming a hot, morning cuppa into a thirst-quenching, refreshing beverage to be enjoyed in the sunshine. However, you’re probably well aware that not all coffee drinkers like iced coffee, so what should your plan of action be? Well, what if you didn’t need to ‘transform’ anything? 

We think the trick is to be very selective about the coffee roast itself. This way, it can be enjoyed hot or cold. Coffee is arguably just as seasonal as food, so some roasts lend themselves to sunny afternoons, just as others are perfect for chilly, spring mornings. To help you make sense of this, we’ve identified a few key characteristics to look out for when choosing coffee for the warmer months. 

Generally, we recommend sweeter roasts. Light bodied coffees tend to work best, especially those with floral, fruity tasting notes. Made with 100% Arabica beans, our single origin Peruvian roast is one we’d highly recommend. It’s refreshingly light, with subtle hints of walnut and caramel, followed by a sweet, milk chocolate finish. Expect a soothing, well-rounded experience to complement the lovely weather.

For something slightly fruitier, we’d suggest going with our single origin Ethiopia Sidamo roast. Comprised exclusively from high-grown Arabica beans from the Sidamo Province, you’ll be met with a balanced fruit acidity, lovely citrus notes and a light, chocolate mocha body. Click here to read our article about what makes this roast so sought after amongst coffee connoisseurs worldwide.

If you’re already familiar with our range, you might have noticed that the two we recommend most are both medium roasts. We find that the bitterness more commonly associated with darker roasts just doesn’t feel as invigorating or thirst-quenching, but please feel free to experiment!

If you’d like to learn more about our selection of premium coffee roasts, feel free to click here to browse our full range. Everything we sell is 100% Fairtrade certified, so you can be sure that everything you’re sipping has been sourced ethically and sustainably. If you’ve got any questions, feel free to contact us and we’ll be more than happy to help.

What’s the difference between Arabica and Robusta coffee beans?

What’s the difference between Arabica and Robusta coffee beans?

You might be reading this as a seasoned sipper who’s looking to brush up on coffee related trivia, or perhaps you’re pretty new to the world of coffee and you’re venturing into unknown territory. Either way, hopefully I can help you out by shedding some light on a topic that’s not always as black and white as it’s often thought.

Firstly, there are many different species of coffee plant, but the Arabica and Robusta plants are the two that are grown commercially for coffee consumption. The most important difference between the two is the where they’re grown. Generally speaking, Robusta plants are the hardier of the two crops and can withstand greater heat and sunlight. This makes them capable of growing in low altitudes in very hot countries. Arabica plants, on the other hand, are more delicate and require cooler, subtropical climates. Because of this, Arabica plants grow best in moist, rich soil, at high altitudes that offer shade as well as sun. 

You might have noticed that coffee from the Arabica plant tends to be more expensive. This is partly because of the difficulty involved in growing and harvesting it. The Arabica plant requires frequent care and attention from skilled farmers as it’s more susceptible to damage from pests, whereas the Robusta plant is easy and cheap to grow. What also sets these two apart, in terms of production cost, is Robusta plants yield a much greater quantity of coffee per acre. 

Generally speaking, Arabica coffee is regarded as the superior coffee. The taste is often described as sweeter and softer, and the flavour can take on unique characteristics that can vary greatly depending on the country it’s grown in. These flavours are delivered by a coffee that’s often high in acidity, which can give the coffee tangy, fruity characteristics that are similar to those you get with acidic wines.

Coffee from the Robusta plant tends to be more full-bodied and higher in caffeine content. Rather than sweet tasting notes it has a richer, deeper flavour with an earthy, almost nutty aftertaste.

Some people regard Robusta coffee as too harsh. It’s true that the cheaper supermarket coffees, especially instant coffees, are almost always Robusta, and we all know how bitter some of these can be if you don’t pick carefully. However, the characteristics of Robusta coffee serve a real purpose in the coffee world. Some of the best espresso blends use a mix of Robusta and Arabica, as Robusta coffee is renowned for the lovely crema it produces. Often, Robusta coffee is used as a tool to reign in some of the stronger, more floral flavours of Arabica coffee, which helps to produce a balanced cup.  

With anything like this, there’s no such thing as better or worse; only personal preference. One person’s idea of coffee heaven might be another’s idea of coffee hell. So enough of me… it’s time to get out there and experiment. 

In our range we’ve got a number of single origin Arabica roasts, as well as a popular Brazilian blend that combines a mix of Arabica and Robusta beans. This is a great option to try if you're interested in sampling Robusta as it has many of the characteristics without being too extreme. All of our coffee beans are 100% Fairtrade and freshly roasted in small batches.

Click here to view of full range :)

What’s the difference between washed and unwashed coffee?

What’s the difference between washed and unwashed coffee?

Many of us are familiar with the various steps in the journey that lies ahead of each coffee bean; from the moment they’re picked to the moment they’re sat in our kitchens, tentatively waiting for us to squeeze every ounce of goodness out of them to prepare us for the day ahead.

But I think it’s fair to say that few of us truly appreciate just how important some of these steps are. In particular, it seems common for us to place heavy emphasis on the roasting process whilst forgetting the vital steps beforehand that also do a great deal to alter the flavour of the beans.

Understandably this information can sometimes appear to be rather tedious, but if you are, as we are, a bit of a coffee geek, then you’re in for a real treat!

There are many steps that coffee beans must go through before they arrive at the roasting stage, but today we’re going to consider the difference in two of the most popular methods – washed and unwashed. Regardless of which process is used, the goal is to remove the coffee bean (or seed if you’d prefer) from the various layers of skin and mucilage that surround it, whilst retaining the aroma the mucilage holds.

Unwashed Coffee 

This method is easily the oldest and has been used for hundreds of years. Unwashed coffee, also known as the dry process, is the most natural way of extracting the bean. The cherry is washed (just to confuse you!) before being laid out to dry in the sun for up to several weeks. The cherry is turned often to prevent spoilage and covered at night or if it’s raining. This process is complete when the cherry’s moisture content reaches 11%.

Washed Coffee

This new method of preparing the bean is considerably more expensive and, as you may have guessed, a relatively recent development in the way some of our coffee is processed. This method differs in that the coffee cherry is pulped straight after harvesting, which means the outer layers, apart from the mucilage, are removed. What remains is fermented in water for what tends to be several days. Following this, the mucilage is then washed off the bean.   

How do these methods affect the taste?

The washed method tends to produce higher quality coffee but this requires skill and water. It results in a coffee that’s generally fruitier, brighter and cleaner. The unwashed method, on the other hand, is known to produce a coffee that’s complex, smooth and has a heavy body. Often, this method is used in countries where long periods of sunshine are rare or rainfall is scarce.

Whilst some people may have a particular preference, it’s generally accepted that each method has its place. As well as the quality of labour and availability of water and sunlight, there are various other factors which determine the method of choice, such as altitude, soil levels, sunlight and humidity.

If you'd like to sample some washed and unwashed coffees, we have a beautiful range available that we roast in small batches, for maximum flavour and taste. Click here to take a look!