What is Specialty Coffee?
In short, it's awesome. Forget Starbucks, Costa or any other chain beverage, and get ready to taste something. Technically, according to the SCAA it means the very best beans, scoring 80/100 but it takes so much more than great beans to produce the perfect brew. We accept nothing but the best in every element of the process, which makes for a strong, extra smooth coffee. Here's what we do differently to the chains, and why it matters.
We only select the finest Arabia* beans, grown in microlots, and traded under a 'direct trade' agreement (which is a better deal for the farmers than Fair Trade). All our milk based espresso drinks use Ozone's Empire Blend https://www.ozonecoffee.co.uk/shop/empire-espresso/ which is a heady blend of Brazillian, Colombian, Guatemalean and Ethiopian beans, and roasted to bring out chocolately, caramel finish. Most chain operators use cheaper beans.
Most chain beverages are roasted in bulk and quite darkly, which can add a burnt, bitter note to the taste. We only use small batch roasted coffee at it's optimum peak (5-12 days after roasting) and whilst we prefer a medium/dark roasted blend (see link above) this has enough power to handle mixing with milk, and still pack a flavoursome punch without being bitter. If you're over at Old St, check out Ozone and their roastery, smells amazing!
We work to a set brew recipe but take into account lots of variable factors, that can all influence the cleanness of the taste. These include (amongst others) cleanliness of the machine, the group handle, the filters etc; the humidity and age of the beans; any drift in the grind; water softness and mineral content - the list goes on!
Sadly, the chains have conditioned us into drinking huge vats of warm milk, with a couple of fuzzy burnt shots lost in there somewhere. Great coffee doesn't need creams, syrups, whipped cream, or being called a frappacrappawhatever. All our coffees, regardless of size, pack a double shot punch. Try the same blend as an espressso, a long black, a flat white and a latte and taste the difference, they all taste great in a different way.
When mixing your coffee with milk, it's important to use organic whole milk. Why organic? We're not adulterating the taste of coffee with any chemicals during the process so far, so why start now? Whole milk provides a far superior texture - as the fats and proteins stretch when heated (and if done properly - no 'shreiking' milk** please!) If you prefer semi-skimmed, just ask - slightly less of a creamy texture but still great!
*There are two commonly grown varieties of coffee plants - Robusta & Arabica. Robusta is much easier to grow, produces a higher yield and is very bitter in flavour. Usually featured in instant and cheaper coffee blends. Arabica is much more difficult to grow and produces smaller yields but a far superior flavour, ergo costs a lot more.
**We've all heard it, the sound of fingernails down a blackboard, or milk being burnt and screaming for it's life in a cafe. We only heat milk to 65 degrees, after which the proteins and fats start to burn, again adding unwanted elements to the taste.
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Closed Bank Holidays
12 Lower Marsh
0208 617 9591
199 Westminster Br Rd