Looking back at the coffee in 2018

Much of my 2018 has been fuelled by coffeee. Last year I made the decision to try and vary the coffee we drank at home to explore different coffees and brewing methods, learn more about the growing coffee roasting industry, and support independent businesses in the process. This didn’t quite go to plan when I became pregnant again and even the smell of coffee made me feel very queasy (slightly problematic for a coffee industry researcher). However, part of the way into the year I returned to coffee drinking and made an effort to vary the beans we used in the house. It’s been fantastic to try so many different coffees rather than just sticking with the one we always used to have. There are so many different independent coffee roasters out there, with different stories to tell with their coffee.

I’ve discovered lots of new roasters, begun to explore the different tastes that coffee can provide, and attempted to try different brewing methods along the way. I was really pleased to have discovered Dog & Hat coffee subscriptions which we’ve used for most of the year. This has introduced me to coffees from roasters across the UK and beyond. It’s always a good day when at the end of the month the Dog & Hat parcel arrives. It’s hard to pick favourites from all of these, but the Kibingo Burundi coffee from Maude Coffee Roasters, as well as the Mountain Rescue Colombia from Red Bank Coffee Roasters were particularly memorable.  The team at Dog & Hat have provided acess to a range of excellent roasters each month, and it was great to see them featured in a recent edition of Caffeine magazine.

With the publication of an article about the growing coffee shop culture in China, I really wanted to try and taste some coffee grown in China. I was kindly given some Chinese coffee from Grumpy Mule from the Fuyan Cooperative and managed to find buy some more from Cricklewood Coffee Roasters too. Later in the year on a trip to London I also discovered the Ou Yang Chinese coffee from Square Mile Coffee Roasters. All three were great, though I keep hearing how specialty coffee growing in China is improving and there will be even better coffees in the future. I’m keen to keep trying coffee from this region to see how it develops.

There were a lot of coffee highlights from throughout the year. Attending coffee festivals in London, Birmingham, Bristol and Coventry led to the acquisition of more coffee. A particular highlight were the coffees from Girls Who Grind Coffee, an all female roastery based in the south west of the UK who source their coffees from female producers. Not only do they have striking art work on the coffee bags, provided some really interesting flavours, but they are doing some fantastic work supporting women working in coffee. I was really pleased to see they had beans for sale in London St Pancras station later in the year!

I’ve had a few opportunities to try roasters from outside the UK too, not only throught the Dog & Hat subscription but through a bit of travelling, gifts and a taster set from the Right Roast.

Exploring some of the coffee roasters in and around Porto was great fun. I’ve been researching coffee culture in Portugal for some time, and it’s been fascinating to see how specialty coffee is growing there. We picked up beans from a few places but in terms of the coffee experience the highlight was 7g roaster around the Port wine area of Gaia, with a large coffee shop with an open view to the roastery. We had some Brazilian beans from here which were excellent as espresso.

A geographer by training one of the fascinating things I find about coffee is all the different places it comes from. Many roasters provide a lot of detail about the source of their coffee, some times down to the individual farm. It’s fascinating to see how different types of coffee coffee grown in diferent countries in different environment can produce such a huge array of flavours. Whether you’re drinking a single origin or a blend of coffees, the geography of the coffee is important!

This post really is a thank you to all the coffee roasters who have kept me going through much of the year. I look forward to discovering more in 2019.

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