Well, it’s moment of truth time for our Harrogate-grown coffee beans. You may remember we grew, harvested and processed the coffee from our own plants and managed to create just half a kilo of precious green coffee beans.
This week, Emily, one of our expert coffee buyers, was both nervous and excited about ‘cupping’ the coffee beans, but first she had to roast them. She decided to create a Dark, Medium and a Light roast of our Harrogate Harvest beans.
Once roasted in special mini sample roasters in the cupping room, four 10g cups of each of the three different roasts of the Harrogate Harvest beans are weighed out then ground to a medium filter-style grind. Freshly drawn and boiled water is then poured over the coffee. The grounds form a crust on the surface and are left to brew for four minutes.
Emily then works her way along the 12 cups, divided by roast onto three trays, with her nose almost touching the surface she breaks the crusts with her tasting spoon to release the aroma and she analyses each cup. First impressions?
“The dark roast is nice and clean. The medium has a pleasant sweetness. The light roast is quite disappointing. It’s thin with no character to it.” said a discerning Emily.
After skimming off any foam, and whilst waiting 5-10 minutes for them to cool a little, Emily explained how the coffee Taylors buys is graded so beans are a uniform size and density. This means when roasting, they all roast at a similar rate. The Harrogate roast wasn’t graded though as we didn’t have enough coffee and therefore irregular sized and density beans mean we won’t have a uniform roast so some beans may be a little ‘quakery’ (under-roasted) and others might catch a bit and create a slightly sooty flavour.
With the coffee now at the correct temperature, Emily moved onto the taste, rapidly slurping then spitting out spoonfuls from each of the four cups from the three different roasts, from the light roast up to the dark roast and then back down to the light.
“The light roast is clean, with some good acidity but no sweetness to balance it, this makes it quite astringent and it’s lacking complexity. There’s no aroma and it’s a bit thin.
“The medium roast is very different. It’s slightly honeyed. There’s a nice pleasant aroma of stone fruit with some sweetness to it – quite plummy. This is most likely a symptom of the ‘pulped natural’ process we used where some fruit is left on the parchment of the coffee beans. As for the dark roast, it just doesn’t suit the bean. Some beans have caught a bit and it tastes sooty. It’s gone to far.”
Coffee normally grows in the tropics. The best quality coffees are found above 1000 meters above sea level, usually under the shade of indigenous trees in rich, fertile soils.
“Harrogate isn’t exactly tropical and at barely 150 metres above sea level, our home grown coffee beans weren’t grown at high altitude. So the Harrogate Harvest coffee isn’t particularly well-balanced or complex like East African or Central American coffees, but it’s not bad.”
A beaming Emily was upbeat; “I’m very proud. We didn’t think it could have been done after last year’s disaster where the beans rotted and stank. Next year we’re going to keep a closer eye on them and pick them as they ripen. Hopefully we’ll have enough to grade the green beans to achieve a more uniform roast. We might keep the fruit from the pulping stage and dry it. In fact, the tea experts next door might want to try making the fruit into a tea infusion.”
So there you go, it can be done, but it’s very much a work in progress. Hopefully next year’s harvest will be even more fruitful. Naturally, we’ll keep you posted.