The Six Eight Kafé Blog
Five years ago on a cold dark February morning, four people opened the doors to a small independent coffee shop in Birmingham City Centre. None of the people concerned had ever worked in a coffee shop. There was no sign, no food and not even a fridge. Just a coffee machine and a cookie jar.
We would like to thank everybody who helped us on our journey and got us where we are now.
It’s been five years of ups and downs, from constant challenges to national highs.
We would love to celebrate this event with you, whether you have been a customer, a supplier, a staff member, a friendly competitor or even a partner of someone who has worked here.
We wouldn’t have been here without you, so please drop by at Temple Row between 5:00pm and 10:00pm for some live music and great coffee.
Please bring a friend or your partner! For more info, please see below:
As we said last week, coffee fruit is much like a cherry and grows on a plant/bush. So how do we turn a coffee cherry into a drink?
First the (coffee) cherry must be picked. There are machines that can do this, however there are two problems with using a machine – firstly coffee needs to be picked when it is ripe and bright red in colour and a machine can not distinguish between ripe and unripe fruit so this affects the quality of the cup. Secondly the best coffee is grown at high altitude, usually clinging to the side of a steep hill – machines don’t work in these conditions! Because of this, the best way to pick coffee is by hand. This is much slower and requires pickers to have the skill of picking only the ripe fruit and thus is more expensive, but it’s worth it.
After the fruit has been picked it is sorted to make sure no unripe fruit has been picked, then the coffee must be dried and the fruit must be removed from the seed (the bean). At this stage the coffee beans will be ready to be shipped to coffee roasters.
There are two main ‘processes’ for drying the coffee and removing fruit which are called the natural process and the washed process.
Firstly we will look at natural process. This is the ‘low tech’ method of processing. Coffee fruit is laid in a thin layer on brick or concrete patios and left to dry; sometimes raised drying tables are used to allow better air circulation. The coffee must be carefully and regularly turned so that it can dry evenly. This is done either by hand or using special rakes. After the coffee has dried, the fruit is mechanically removed, leaving the ‘green’ coffee ready to be shipped to a roaster.
The natural process adds an innate fruity flavour to coffees that is quite controversial: some enjoy the often blueberry or tropical fruit flavour, while others see the process as a taint on the true flavour of the coffee.
The washed process is a bit more complicated and we’ll look at that next time…
So as we said before Christmas, coffee is not (as the name suggests) a
bean. Coffee fruit is similar to a cherry and grows on a plant (more
of a bush), and the coffee ‘bean’ is actually the seed of the fruit.
Sometimes you will see ‘cascara tea’ for sale in speciality coffee
shops, which is tea made simply by steeping the dried coffee fruit
flesh in hot water.
So where does coffee come from?
Coffee originated in Ethiopia as a wide variety of wild growing
plants. The Dutch were the first to commercially spread coffee around
the world and the variety they used was ‘Typica’. Typica is the original
commercial variety all other commercial coffees have descended from
this through mutation or genetic selection.
A great way to think about coffee is that it is similar to apples.
Everyone knows that there are many variety of apple from Granny Smith
to Braeburn to Golden Delicious – they are all very recognisable types
of apple, and share many of the same flavours and characteristics but
they are also very different; coffee is the same.
Looking back at our current Jailbreak blend from Has Bean, it currently
contains two popular varieties: Bourbon and Caturra.
Bourbon is a naturally occurring mutation of Typica from the island of
Réunion, named Bourbon at the time. Bourbon is a higher yielding
variety than Typica, in that it grows more fruit, and is also believed to be
sweeter, making it a desirable coffee.
Caturra is a mutation of Bourbon discovered in Brazil in 1937. Again
it is high yielding and has generally high cup quality.
Next time we are going to be talking about how coffee is processed to
produce coffee beans that we recognise.
Home Brew Course
Following on from last week, we would like to tell you about the second of our coffee courses; our ‘home brew’ course.
We call this the home brew course, but don’t be fooled. ‘Home brewing’ isn’t amateur at all, and we can teach you to get excellent results! We are confident that this course will be able to teach you to make better coffee than a lot of the coffee shops out there!
On the course we’ll be teaching you how to make coffee using two world class brewing methods: the Aeropress and the pour over. We will be using a ‘Kalita Wave’ brewer for the pour over method, and you can check out our past blog posts about both methods to get a little taster to whet your appetite.
So again, we invite you to join us for one of our regular courses, treat your self for Christmas and have great coffee at home in the new year! Why not treat someone else for Christmas… then they can make your coffee in the new year!
We’ve now got gift vouchers for sale and we’re also open on Christmas Eve if you’re still panicking on the present buying front. We have some freshly roasted bags of coffee direct from Has Bean too, along with plenty of devices to brew at home.
After last weeks post we realised that most people haven’t got a clue about some of the things we were talking about. With that in mind over the coming weeks we are going to be talking a bit about some more in depth coffee stuff… or more basic coffee stuff, depending on how you look at it. Like, ‘what actually is a coffee bean?’ or ‘is it even a bean?’ (clue – it’s not!). Where does this bean come from and what is done to it so that we can make coffee from it?
The answers are all to come.
This week we want to tell you about another way to expand your coffee knowledge – our coffee courses, starting with our cupping courses.
The courses start at just £5 per person, and can be purchased at our shops or with the form on this very website. Check below for a breakdown of the costs:
Coffee cupping is a structured way of tasting coffees lined up against each other. It involves spoons and some competitive slurping, for scientific reasons that will be explained! Think wine tasting but more fun and cool – and we won’t be snobby about it. Not that wine tasting is snobby… digging ourselves a hole here.
We are running regular cupping sessions for beginners where you will be able to learn the whole process and you will get the opportunity to taste some good coffees. We will also throw in some very average ones, so that you can see the difference, side by side.
We have also got gift vouchers available for our courses which would make great Christmas presents, so that the coffee geek in your life is sorted!
See you next time.
As we said a few weeks ago we have changed our house blend to Has Bean’s ‘Jailbreak.’ For those who don’t know, Has Bean is a world renowned coffee roaster based in Stafford who have previously roasted coffee used to win The World Barista Championship.
Jailbreak is one of Has Bean’s blends of coffee. As with all blends the coffee which goes into them is constantly changing, however the current blend consists of…
- 33% El Salvador Argentina Estate Washed Bourbon
- 33% Costa Rica Finca De Licho Yellow Honey Villa Sarchi
- 33% Guatemala Finca El Limon Pie Del Cerro Washed Caturra
- 1% Magic
… that’s a lot of information right? Well we don’t want to overwhelm you with information, so lets just look a little at one of the three coffees that make up the blend.
El Salvador, Argentina Estate, Washed, Bourbon.
So country of origin – El Salvador. Argentina Estate – this is the name of the farm where the coffee was grown. Washed – this is one of the methods of ‘processing’ coffee (changing it from a coffee fruit, to a dried bean ready for roasting). We are going to cover processing methods in some up coming blog posts. Bourbon – this is the variety of coffee plant (there are different types of coffee plants – in the same way as wine varieties or varieties of apples.)
This information really is the tip of the iceberg, with a quality roaster like Has Bean you get ALL the information – like what the farmers wife’s (or husband’s) name is. So we will dig a little further into the El Salvador, Argentina Estate, Washed, Bourbon.
- Country: El Salvador
- Farm: Finca Argentina
- Varietal: Bourbon
- Processing: Fully washed and Sun Dried
- Workers: 16 full time rising to 50 during the picking season
- Altitude: 1,300 m.a.s.l. (meters above sea level)
- Owner: Alejandro Martinez
- City: Near Turin, Ahuachapan
- Region: Apaneca-Ilamatepec Mountain ranges El Salvador
Ballanced, Big mouthfeel, smooth, melted chocolate
Cupping is a structured method of tasting coffees to compare them to one another. Bellow are Has Bean’s cupping scores when grading the coffee. Nothing scoring below 80 on a cupping table will make it into the specialty coffee market. – Coffee cuppings (tasting sessions) are available at 6/8, plug, plug.
Clean Cup: (1-8): 7
Sweetness: (1-8): 7
Acidity: (1-8): 6
Mouthfeel: (1-8): 6
Flavour: (1-8): 6
Aftertaste: (1-8): 6
Balance: (1-8): 7
Overall: (1-8): 6
Correction: (+36): +36
Total: (max 100): 87
There is a lot more information about this coffee on Has Bean’s website, including Steve Leighton’s ‘In My Mug’ video about the coffee, it’s interesting stuff.
Remember, this is one of the three coffees that make up the current Jailbreak blend.
That should be plenty of reading and watching for you until next time! If you need more you can also look up the other coffee’s in the blend on Has Bean’s website.
Sorry, can’t provide any provenance for the 1% magic.
The clever dripper is a brewer that has things in common with a number of brewers, but offers it’s own unique package.
Similar to a cafetiere or an Aeropress, the clever dripper is an immersion brewer – meaning that coffee grounds are submerged and steeped in water during the brewing process. Other than this the Clever Dripper is more similar to a traditional pour over method like a Chemex, Kalita Wave or v60, at a chosen point during your brew you end the steeping phase of the brew and begin the ‘draw dawn’ – allowing your steeped coffee to pass through a paper filter – this happens only under the pressure of gravity, once the shut-off valve has been released. (Which happens ‘clererly’ when you place the brewer onto a carafe.)
Jailbreak is back! We’re now serving up this amazing espresso blend from Has Bean Coffee again. Come into either of our shops to try it out!
Last week saw the release of the film ‘Barista.’ The film follows the USA Barista Championship.
Stay with me, yes there is a film and yes there are competitions!
The film is a great window into a world of pure coffee geekage and it’s entertaining and it’s informative and it’s funny – what more could you want?!
It’s available to buy or rent ‘off of’ iTunes, why not take a look: