31 July 2014
OK, we admit this news is slightly overdue but we are here nonetheless as we officially launch the new iteration of our Four Chairs Espresso, version 3!
The coffee rust disease that is sweeping through Central America last year is really affecting our producers hugely. Many have experienced big drops in coffee harvests compared to previous year. This in turn makes our job even more challenging this year as we have to seek out even more producers for that cup of coffee that we feel works for us. The good news is that even though quantity has suffered greatly, quality on the other hand has improved with noticeable results on the cupping table.
18 July 2014
Finally a new Ethiopian coffee has re-surfaced on our retail rack since the last coffee from Africa. Like many others, we always have an affinity towards Ethiopian coffee. They can be so addictive that we find our Ethiopian coffees always run out a lot faster than we would expect. So this year, we have planned a pipeline of coffees from Africa to satisfy our “thirsty” customers. First up is an amazingly sweet coffee from a washing station near Chele’lektu, situated in the Yirga Cheffe region. This lot is made up of many small lots from around the town of Chele’lektu in the Kochore Woreda of Yirga Cheffe. The altitudes of farms in this area range from 1850 to 2000+ meters, with approximately 600 small-holder farmers contributing to this lot.
20 June 2014
Though our trip to Central America was barely 4 months ago, it seemed like ages ago that we were cupping at Beneficio Don Estaban in Matagalpa. This year, we had very little time in Nicaragua, barely a couple of hours to catch up with Dr Mierisch as well as cup coffees from this year’s harvest. Like many other farms across Central America, the Mierisch’s farms are affected by the coffee rust disease (“la roya”) and some are more affected than others (more on the coffee rust disease in our next post). The onset of “la roya” led to experimentation of new varietals which are found to be more resistant to the coffee rust. Growing rust-resistant varietals might be a long term solution, but many have to rely on stronger fertilizers as an immediate measure to counteract the threatening fungus. The application of fertilizers is expensive and while bigger estate owners like the Mierisch family can afford to do so, other small producers struggle to afford and government assistance is limited. Despite prevention measures taken to fight the coffee rust, there was a considerable drop in production. The only comfort was the quality of the coffees held up on the cupping table. Over 3 rounds of cupping, we tried coffees from different farms, different varietals and different processing methods. We found some gems that we really like and it is always rewarding to cup with other more experienced green coffee buyers whom we look to learn from.
13 June 2014
When customers watch us brew in the shop, we frequently get asked about our brewing temperature. Why is water temperature important? It all boils down to extraction and how it makes the coffee taste good. Too hot, you might end up burning the coffee and cause unpleasant bitterness. Too low, you might not get the best flavours of the coffee. So in the shop, we measure the water temperature for every cup of filter brew we do. In general, we use water at around 93-94 degree celsius for brewing on the Kalita wave dripper and around 90 degree celsius for the Aeropress. (Note: while we have done taste tests of brewing with different temperature, the recommended temperature is purely a starting guide. To fine tune the taste, one should experiment with different temperatures and adjust according to taste)
12 May 2014
In 2010 (before Nylon was “born” at Everton Park), we roasted our first coffees from Papua New Guinea. A couple of bags literally hand delivered by a mysterious gentleman, who claimed to be a family member of a fairly large and well known plantation in the Western Highlands. Back in those days, our knowledge of coffee origins were very much driven by hearsay and what the traders wanted us to hear. PNG sounded like an exotic land where head-hunters and cannibalism still exist. So imagine the excitement we had, to be roasting coffees that apparently had the same cup profile of the Blue Mountain cultivar! (Yes, back in those days, we honestly thought Kona and Blue Mountain were one of the better coffees one should drink.)
Fast forward to 2014, we chanced upon a sample that was dropped off at our roastery. Out of curiosity, we roasted and cupped the beans, and was surprisingly wowed by the cup quality - this definitely has the potential to be a special coffee. We contacted the equally mysterious stranger to find out more about this coffee.