November 2014 Newsletter
The extra time I've gained since we divested the equipment sales has
let me get a lot more involved with the coffee side of the business.
I was recently involved with a "Specialty Coffee Event" spotlighting
so called "Nordic Roast" coffees. For the uninitiated, the Nordic
Roast style is one of very light roasts, with the beans just
starting to turn brown.
One of the main proponents of this roasting style, and (I think) the
guy who first publicised it is Tim Wendelboe, the 2004 World Barista
champ. He now runs a café and roastery in Oslo, Norway. The theory
behind the roast style is that the light roast allows the flavour of
the fruit, varietal and terroir to predominate without interference
from roasting process. A bit like the theory behind sushi or steak
In practice, though, coffee has more in common with bread. You can't
just mix flour, water and yeast together, bake for a few minutes and
expect to get something edible out of the oven. Lightly roasted
coffee is the norm when "cupping for fault", as problems with the
flavour will show up immediately. However, professional cuppers
don't drink the samples, they spit after slurping. The coffees they
drink are generally much darker roasts.
The main flavour that you get from such light roasts is acidity,
followed by whatever fruit is present, and then a somewhat bread-
like aftertaste, a bit of yeast and malt. The coffees I was served
at the "Event" had all been brewed in glass drips with filter
papers, using electronic scales and PID electric kettles. The liquid
in the carafes after brewing was not the normal brownish black but
instead a glowing red.
The three coffees (Kenya, Ethiopia and Guatemala) were indeed
acidic, somewhat fruity and slightly tannic in the aftertaste. They
all tasted different (blackberries for the Kenya, strawberries for
the Ethiopia and grapes for the Guatemala) but none of them rang my
bell as exciting coffees. That was when I realised that to my palate
they didn't taste much like coffees at all. The flavours I was
getting had more in common with something like a rosehip tea than
with what I expect from coffee.
The "Nordic Roasts" were definitely unsuitable for espresso, being
acidic enough to curdle any added milk, but I strongly suspect that
the brews as presented would meet the approval of most tea drinkers.
Especially if they favour black tea with lemon.
All I can say is "It's coffee, Jim, but not as we know it!"
It's certainly not a style of coffee I enjoy or support.
What I do support is bold coffees with intense, clearly defined
flavours, reasonable body and smooth finishes. I like the same
characteristics in red wines as well. Which in both beverages
usually means expensive.
Sometimes a bargain pops up where you'd least expect it. I do a lot
of tasting of both wines and coffees (fortunately lots more coffees
than wines) to find the hidden gems. For red wines, the 2010 White
Box Shiraz from DM's for under $17.00 is pretty good. For coffees,
we've got this month's special
Ethiopia Djimma Gr.4 Choche Guda
This is an intense coffee with a rich, full body and a long, creamy
finish. It has elements of fruit and spices in the overall flavour
with cocoa notes in the aftertaste. Roast level is medium to dark,
and it works equally well as a brewed coffee and a single origin
Until next month