I am old enough to remember the wine revolution of the late 80s early 90s. That point when people realised there was more to wine than the chromatically themed Black Tower and Blue Nun. Like any revolution it had its stages: the chardonnay obsession, the reds from the ‘new world’ followed by the more exotic white zinfandel before we reached true emancipation with supermarkets stocking quality new and old world wines such as vouvray, chenin blanc, pinot grigio, merlot, rioja, merlot and shiraz.
“There was more to wine than the chromatically themed Black Tower and Blue Nun”
And so it has been with coffee. I am sure many of us have distant memories of Mellow Birds, Maxwell House or Brooke Bond’s Red Mountain (I am singing the song I my head too!). These were the freeze dried version of Blue Nun. The next stage of the coffee revolution was the expansion of the coffee shops: Costa, Starbucks, Café Nero etc. These opened our eyes to the fact that coffee could be enjoyed in many different ways: Americano, lattes, cappuccinos, macchiatos, mochas to name but a few.
Coffee is now an event: something people cherish and even plan their day around
Then finally we moved to the next stage of the coffee revolution with a focus not on the way you drink it but on what it is you are drinking. The realisation that, like wine, coffee comes in many varied and exciting blends and flavours. This has led to an explosion in the coffee industry whereby the machinery to make coffee (from the simple cafetiere to the full on barista machines), the origin of the coffee (Fairtrade and ethics thankfully being important) and of course the careful blending have become so important. Coffee is now an event: something people cherish and even plan their day around.
It was at this stage of the revolution and in my search for the perfect coffee that I came across a local coffee company, The Crosby Coffee Company. The Company was the product of an experiment turned hobby in early 2013 by its owner who struggled to find fresh quality coffee in local stores. He decided to take it upon himself to roast his own coffee: a brave and daunting move which is starting to bear fruit (or should I say beans). The coffees come from around the world: DRC, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Peru, Brazil, Indonesia and many are Fairtrade, and some are even organic.
Armed with my art deco coffee percolator I selected three different coffees: Vietnamese Arabica, Guatemala Coschecha Crop and the company’s first gourmet blend IMC (it stands for Iron Men of Crosby in keeping with the local theme). I have to say I was not disappointed. The 3 coffees arrived very quickly in very attractive re-sealable brown paper pouches complete with description, background information, and tasting notes (you never used to get that with Mellow Birds).
This was an excellent coffee with a deep hint of luxury
First up was the IMC. The notes informed me this was a blend of Brazilian Santos, Guatemalan Coschecha and Indian Cherry. Just opening the pouch was joy in itself as the rich, fresh aroma flooded out. This was an excellent coffee with a deep hint of luxury. The smoothness of the Santos and Coschecha was very well balanced by the much more powerful kick from the Indian Cherry. I have to warn you, however, that this was so nice I ended up having 4 cups leaving me very bright eyed and bushy tailed!
The following day I tried the Guatemala Coschecha Crop. Again the joy that opening a pack of fresh coffee brings is hard to convey in words. The altitude, volcanic soils and eternal spring-like conditions make Guatemala a perfect setting to produce one of the best Arabica coffee beans in the world. Tis was very evident in every sip. The coffee exuded quality with a rich velvety taste with a hint of mocha and gentle nutty after taste. Learning from the IMC experience I reluctantly limited myself to just 2 cups.
This is a well-rounded coffee, smooth in taste with hints of traditional mocha
The next day saw me try the Vietnamese Arabica. Coming from the second largest exporter of coffee in the world, this Arabica offered a more sophisticated flavour. This is a well-rounded coffee, smooth in taste with hints of traditional mocha. It owes its full bodied depth to the dark slow roast which provide it with a subtle complexity which would make it the perfect after dinner brew.
All three coffees were, in their own way, excellent. Clearly plenty of care and effort has gone into their production, indeed operating on such a small but bespoke scale allows Crosby Coffee to not only do the necessary temperature, bean weight and moisture checks but to do so almost to demand thereby ensuring a truly fresh cup of coffee. I have used many mail order coffee companies before with mixed success. Few, however, could match the combined quality, presentation, aroma and above all flavour provided in all three coffees by The Crosby Coffee Company, and to top it all I was still shopping local!
Website: Crosby Coffee website