3: Processing

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Welcome to the third edition of our blog where we will introduce you to processing methods, and catch up on all the latest news!

We are thrilled to have a guest feature as Steve Leighton of Hasbean takes us through coffee processing methods. Steve sources every single bean of coffee that we use, he doesn’t just know the farmers names – he knows their dogs names! The term “hands on” doesn’t do justice to Steve, he quite literally eats, sleeps and drinks coffee, and we couldn’t be happier to have him on board for this blog. More on that later.

Last Monday evening saw our very first “coffee at home” workshop. A free event, it was designed to help our customers achieve more consistency in their coffee making and improve their understanding of different brewing methods. We covered espresso, chemex, and Aeropress, drank stupid amounts of coffee, and had lots of fun. We will definitely run a similar event again soon. We are always delighted to help so please don’t hesitate to get in touch with any questions you have.

Another event in the pipeline for later in March is a tea tasting to coincide with the arrival of some phenomenal new teas from our friends at Waterloo Tea. We have now added Hibiscus Berry, Cranberry Fruits and Vanilla Black to our menu, all of which really are worth checking out.

Back on the subject of coffee, recently we introduced a weekly “single origin day”. Such was the success of the first day, it became “single origin half day”, as we sold out of Yirgacheffe at 2pm! Since then we’ve also had a Brazilian topazio from Fazenda Passeio, and a natural pacamara from Finca San Sebastián in Guatemala.

Due to their success, we’ve now decided to move towards having single origin coffee on bar all the time. The excellent Momentum blend from 3FE has served us really well since we opened our doors, but it feels like a natural progression now to make the move. As of this week, we plan to have a coffee on bar for three or four days and then change to a new one.

In our final piece of news, Neil is representing Arch Coffee in the Irish Aeropress Championship in Dublin next Saturday 14th. He’s one of 20 competitors in our first foray into coffee competition, and we look forward to telling all in our next blog.

And so back to Steve! Following on from our previous blogs which covered the origins of coffee & varieties, we’ll now delve into processing methods, and there’s no better man for the job. Steve, over to you!

PROCESSING by Steve Leighton

The coffee tree produces fleshy red fruit called a drupe, which is commonly referred to as the ‘berry’ or ‘cherry’. The coffee ‘bean’ is actually a seed which is encased within the cherry.

Raw coffee beans are light brown in colour with a distinct green hue which varies in depth. Consequently, unroasted beans are usually referred to as ‘greens’.

Speciality coffee picking tends to be undertaken by hand and good quality harvesting takes place when the cherry is at its ripest. This can mean many re-picks as only fruit that is fully ripe is selected in order to get the very best cup of coffee possible. In
contrast, lesser quality commercial grade commodity coffees are often strip picked, having everything taken from the plant at once for reasons of speed and labour economy. This can have a significant effect on the cup quality.

After the ripe fruit is harvested, the beans need to be removed from the cherry fruit and mucilage, then ‘hulled’, cleaned and sorted. This can be achieved in a number of ways

WET PROCESS

The fruit of the cherry is removed from the beans before they are dried. This is referred to either as the washed process or the wet process, and the resulting production is known as washed coffee.

The wet method lends itself to the efficient sorting and removal of poor quality beans. After harvest, the fruit is immersed in water and sorted. Whilst good ripe coffee sinks to the bottom of the tank, bad or unripe fruit, the ‘floaters and stinkers’ as they are
called, rise to the top and can be removed.

The whole cherry is then pushed in water through a milling screen that removes the flesh from the seed of the fruit, but this does not completely get rid of the slimy layer of mucilage, some of which remains on the beans.

The mucilage can be removed either by fermenting the beans in tanks before washing them in plenty of fresh water to remove any residue, or by the use of machinery employing a process of mechanical scrubbing.

The fermentation process is a very difficult thing to get right; if left too long the beans could have a nasty ferment taste to them, or not long enough and too much of the mucilage might remain on the bean, which would have an equally negative impact on the coffee.

Conversely, fermentation that is carried out correctly can have some very positive effects on the quality of the resulting coffee by virtue of the process itself.

Mechanical scrubbing has a far more predictable end result, though removing the fermentation stage and prematurely separating the fruit residue from the bean does take away a valuable way of influencing flavour in the cup.

Once separated from the rest of the fruit and washed, the beans need to be dried out to a water content of about 10% to achieve stability. To achieve this, they are laid out to dry in the sun on patios or drying tables until they contain around 12-13% moisture,
and typically then brought down to around 10% by machine. The whole process can be carried out in the machine but this generally only happens when there are space or humidity issues.

Once dried the coffee is in the parchment stage with a thin paper like outer skin on the bean which can be easily removed by ‘hulling’

DRY PROCESS

The dry process is the oldest way of processing beans and is the most commonly used method in Asia and Ethiopia. It is sometimes also referred to as the natural process.

After harvest, the entire cherries are cleaned and sorted to remove unripe, over-ripe or damaged fruit, before being allowed to dry whole in the sun on patios or drying tables. It can take up to weeks for the cherries to dry. There is a significant risk of mould
developing, so the cherries have to be turned regularly. Rain is another potential issue as the whole crop could be ruined if subjected to a downpour.

Once dry, the complete cherry is hulled to remove the entire dried outer fruit covering all at once.

PULPED NATURAL PROCESS

This is a mixture of the wet and dry processes. It is very popular in Brazil and is also being tried in many other countries as well.

The cherry is passed through a milling screen to remove the skin and some of the pulp like in the wet process, but fermentation or machine scrubbing does not follow. Instead, the resulting bean is then dried in the sun retaining many of the sugars of the cherry and creating a very interesting coffee.

Hulling and Grading

The parchment that is left coating the beans after they have been processed using any of the three methods is then removed or hulled mechanically by a process ranging from gentle whacking by a bespoke machine to the use of a very basic millstone.

The coffee is then sorted to remove defective beans, graded for size and quality, bagged and prepared for shipping in its green unroasted state.

End…..

Many thanks to Steve for this excellent insight into processing. You will find a host of valuable information on Steve’s brilliant ‘Hasbean’ app, including blogs, videos and brewing guides. You’ll also find him on Twitter @hasbean. He’s also one half of ‘Tamper Tantrum’ along with 3FE founder Colin Harmon – check out http://www.tampertantrum.com for all sorts of coffee geekery!

And that’s it for this edition, we look forward to catching up soon and continuing our journey through the world of coffee. As always you can find us on Twitter & Instagram @arch_coffee, or on Facebook at /archcoffee

Neil & George

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2: Varieties

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Welcome to the second edition of our blog where we will take you through a few of the coffee varietals that have featured on our menu so far, plus lots of news to catch up on!

It’s an exciting time for us under the arch as we commence our first calendar year, hopefully the first of many. We are absolutely delighted to have earned our first award, inclusion in John and Sally McKenna’s “Best In Ireland” guide for 2015 – and we proudly erected our plaque last week, a great start to the year.

It’s also an exciting time in coffee terms as our roasters 3FE take delivery of a host of new coffees from Brazil, Bolivia and Colombia, while Guatemalan and Costa Rican coffees have reached the end of their season. This will mean significant changes to the excellent Momentum blend, but don’t worry, it will remain as good as always! It’s next incarnation is very interesting – split three ways equally between a Nicaraguan pacamara, a Brazilian topazio, and an Ethiopian Yirgacheffe. Later in this post we will explain how these coffees are named and hopefully help you understand what we mean by “Brazilian topazio” or “Ethiopian Yirgacheffe” etc. We expect to have this new blend on bar in the next couple of weeks, rest assured you’ll be kept updated through our social media.

Regulars in the shop will have noticed the expansion of our retail selection to include a wide range of single origin coffees (coffees of a single variety as opposed to a blend). This has proved a great addition to our service, and we are always delighted to advise the home brewer on what best suits their requirements. It has been great to see some of our aeropress owning customers, many of whom were wary at first, grow in confidence in their brewing and develop their tastes through different coffees.

For those who are interested in finding out more about filter coffee and home brewing we will be running a little experiment commencing in the next few days where we will offer filter options on our menu for the first time. Aeropress and chemex are excellent home brewing options, and in fact we are planning an evening event for February which will focus on this specifically – again we will post all details on social media.

So, before we delve into some varietals, let’s explain how our coffees are named; as an example we’ll use “Guatemala Finca Los Jocotales Yellow Honey Red Bourbon”. First we have the country, in this case Guatemala, followed by the farm “Finca Los Jocotales”. Then we have the processing method “yellow honey” – our next blog will cover processing – and finally we have the variety, “red bourbon”. When shortening a description we generally refer to country and variety ie “Guatemalan Bourbon”.

The vast majority of our coffee is named in this way, with one exception! Just to mess things up completely, all this goes out the window for Ethiopian coffees. As outlined in our previous blog, Ethiopia is the home of arabica coffee and the only place where it grows wild. Most of our Ethiopian coffees are contributed to by many different small holders and feature many different varieties, a little bit crazy but is in our eyes certainly, the beauty of Ethiopian coffees. So when we refer to an “Ethiopian Yirgacheffe”, Yirgacheffe is actually the region rather than variety. Within this region there are smaller regions, just to make it a little more complicated! The varieties in these areas are generally classed as “mixed heirloom”.

And so, as an introduction to the many different varietals of coffee, we will focus on three of the most popular and certainly the three that have featured most on bar here in the past few months. In our last blog we explained the difference between Arabica and robusta – the two different types of coffee, and that all of our coffees are high quality arabica. Within arabica there are different varieties, and much like with apples they come in different sizes, colours and taste profiles. “Sweet” has certainly been a regular comment on our coffee so far, and when you get up to speed on the varieties below you’ll see why. It’s worth noting also that the extremely high quality coffee we use permits a lighter roast than your typical high street coffee chain, which in turn brings out natural fruit sweetness and acidity as opposed to the bitterness which occurs in heavily roasted lesser quality coffee. We see our job as being true to what coffee beans are – the seeds of a fruit, and we try to ensure that comes through in your cup. When you embrace the flavours that arabica coffee has to offer you may even start seeing coffee as an alternative fruit juice!

Anyway here’s an introduction to three varieties;

BOURBON

Depending on who you ask, Bourbons origins may lie either in Ethiopia or the island of Bourbon in the Indian Ocean. Either way it is now prevalent all over the coffee growing world and is widely viewed as the daddy of espresso coffee. It’s generally a low bodied well balanced coffee, with a sweet profile which will be familiar to those who enjoy our Momentum blend from 3FE. For the past couple of months a red bourbon from the Guatemalan farm Finca Los Jocotales has accounted for 50% of the blend. Bourbon is very susceptible to pest and disease and is known for a below average yield, but interestingly evidence suggests that the lower the yield, the higher the quality. In many ways for us, Bourbon defines what speciality coffee is all about – quality over quantity. Within the bourbon varietal there are red, yellow and orange variations while red is predominant.

CATURRA

Originating from Brazil, caturra is actually a mutant variant of bourbon. Now prevalent in Costa Rica and Colombia, it has a higher yield than bourbon but is equally susceptible to pest and disease. As a dwarf varietal it’s easy to harvest and plants can be planted close together. Like bourbon it is a low bodied sweet coffee and also featured in the momentum blend recently (Nicaraguan farm Finca Limoncillo’s natural caturra)

CATUAI

Another dwarf varietal, catuai is a high yielding cross between yellow caturra and mundo nuovo. Hugely popular among central and South American growers, it accounts for about 50% of coffee acreage in Brazil. An interesting trait of catuai is the fact that the fruit isn’t easily removed from the plant – making it resistant to heavy rain and high winds. It is however moderately susceptible to pest and disease. Within this varietal there are yellow and red variations, yellow being most popular.

We will cover further varietals in the future, but please feel free to hit us with any questions you have on this subject. We look forward to covering processing methods in our next post, but in the meantime as always you can catch us on Twitter & Instagram @arch_coffee, or on Facebook @ /archcoffee

All the best for now, Neil & George.

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1: It’s All About The Coffee

Welcome to our blog, where we hope to take you along on our coffee journey!

The only possible way to open our first blog is to say a huge thank you to everyone who has pitched in over the past few weeks. The quest to get those doors open required the calling in of a few favours, and many more are now owed. To each and everyone of you – a heartfelt thank you.

We finally got to swap our toolboxes for knock boxes around 3pm on Thursday 7th November, the dreariest of November afternoons, and so began our coffee adventure. We’ve been open for two weeks now with a simple ethos – it’s all about the coffee – and we’re delighted to say we’re making great coffee, and having lots of fun.

So how did we get here? It’s quite simple really, no masterful business plan, and certainly not a desire to make a quick buck. We’re coffee geeks, and we wanted to do something special. Find the best coffee available, make it as good as it can be, and share its story. When it came to finding the best coffee, there was only one place to go  – 3FE. The Dublin based cafe and roastery, headed by multiple Irish Barista Champion Colin Harmon, have blazed a trail for specialty coffee in Ireland and we knew from our first contact with them that we would look no further.

And so, our coffee heroes became our coffee partners, and we were off to the best possible start. From the day we first met with Yann and Juan, we crossed a line between making a decent cup of coffee and science. Instead of dealing with spoons, scoops and splashes, we were now suddenly dealing with hundreds of seconds and tenths of grams and degrees.

This more scientific approach to pulling a shot of espresso brings two things; constant challenges for the barista, and a better cup of coffee. As renowned barista Nicholas Cho recently said on Twitter “exploring espresso is like a giant, unwieldy game of Sudoku”. From the time you begin to “dial in” the machines in the morning, you never stop testing, tasting, weighing, timing, and tweaking – all in the pursuit of the perfect shot of espresso and a happy recipient.

We will delve further into our coffee making process in future posts but we’ll start at the start – our incredible raw ingredient, the coffee itself.

THE ORIGINS & EVOLUTION OF COFFEE

Coffee seeds, or beans as they are most often referred to as, are the seeds of berries on evergreen shrubs of the Coffea genus. There are two species; Arabica, and Canephora (also known as Robusta). Canephora is more resistant to disease and can be cultivated at lower altitudes, but is bitter and lacks flavour compared to Arabica. Therefore in specialty coffee you generally deal in the Arabica species.

Within this species there are many different varieties, all of which originated in South Western Ethiopia. From its origins there, it spread to Yemen and then Java, where the Dutch cultivated plants stolen from Yemen. Then came the defining moment in the development and cultivation of the Arabica coffee we drink today. In 1714, the Mayor of Amsterdam gave the gift of a coffee seedling to King Louis XIV of France. This cutting became known as the Noble Tree. It was from here that coffee spread through Martinique in the Carribean all through Latin America, and Bourbon in the Indian Ocean.

This Noble Tree is the genetic parent of the few dozen varieties that exist in the ‘New World’ of coffee. This is often referred to as a “narrowing of species”, where so many varieties originated from the same plant. In Ethopia however, thousands of varieties continue to prosper, mostly unknown and undocumented.

Each variety can be distinguished by subtle genetic differences such as berry colour, leaf shape and size, plant colour or height etc. Then of course they’ve all got different taste profiles – that’s for another day.

Hopefully this gives you a gentle intro into the exciting world of coffee. In our next post we will tackle different varieties and processing methods. In the meantime please join us on Instagram @arch_coffee, Twitter @arch_coffee, and Facebook @ /archcoffee

Neil & George.

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