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;
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.
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)
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.