Thursday, 18 September 2008

Monmouth Coffee Company

As I’ve mentioned before, I really am quite picky when it comes to coffee. A couple of years back, after undertaking truly epic amounts of research, I splashed out on a second hand La Pavoni machine, an exquisitely designed piece of kit that always garners the request ‘Ooo, please can I have a coffee’ whenever someone sees it for the first time.

Rather than the modern day fully automated machines that do everything at the touch of a button, the La Pavoni relies almost entirely on the skill of the barista and it has taken me a considerable amount of time to get used to the intricacies and foibles of my particular machine. Even now I sometimes manage to overheat the water or over-pressurize the boiler which results in sub-standard espresso.

Over the last few years I’ve tried more brands, makes, grinds and blends of coffee than I care to think about and I thought I’d found the perfect one a few months back: one that made a good, strong espresso with a dark brown crema and a satisfying caffeine hit but could also be used to make a passable Americano or cappuccino if required (but never a latte, oh no. What’s the point?)

After working my way through so many crappy coffees, I was unwilling to move away from my Lavazza Rosso, afraid that I would break the cycle or destroy the spell and I would forever be searching for that perfect coffee again, morosely drinking thin espressos with no crema and an acrid bitterness.

And then my brother, also a self-confessed coffee connoisseur bought me a bag of coffee from the Monmouth Coffee Company.



Far from sourcing from the same vast coffee plantations, Monmouth Coffee Company get their beans from single estates and cooperatives all over the world. Their blends change seasonally and they are constantly looking for the best coffees in the world, creating unique blends and flavour profiles that ebb and flow according to their estates of origin and the seasons.

An Indian bean that might be good for a French blend this spring might be better as a light roast next year. A Colombian single estate bean might blend well with a Guatemalan bean when lightly roasted, but pair better with an Ethiopian when dark roasted.

The current espresso blend consists of a Brazilian Fazenda Rodomunho combined with Grupo Asociativo Quebradon from Columbia and a Guatemalan Finca San Francisco Tecuamburro for a chocolaty finish (I have no idea what these mean either but I suppose it is like blending red wine: Cabernet Sauvignon base for fullness with a little Merlot and Mouvèdre to soften the impact and provide fruity top notes. Wow, I almost sound like I know what I’m talking about).



While I might not really understand the complexities of bean blending, the good people at Monmouth certainly do. The coffee was so much better than the espresso that I am used to. It was freshly ground and gently subtle with a delightfully soft bitterness. There were definite hints of dark chocolate as well that became even more apparent when it was lengthened into an Americano. Certainly one of the best coffees I've had the pleasure of tasting in a long time. And they even do mail order.

www.justcookit.blogspot.com

11 comments:

Tom Armitage said...

Also, they're one of the few places in London that makes a decent Flat White (Flat White itself being the other). Good coffee, either way - and their Borough Market branch is pretty close to work.

You should also check out Square Mile Coffee, who not only have an online store, but also a subscription, and are reportedly excellent.

Reiss Gunson said...

Hi Alex

Both Monmouth & Square Mile are excellent

They are both competitors of ours, but we respect them for assisting in raising the profile of gourmet coffee in the UK

Get in touch & we will send you some samples

We offer a bespoke coffee service, so if there is a particular coffee that you would like to try, we will source it for you.

Kind regards
Reiss

http://LondiniumEspresso.com

Reiss Gunson said...

Hi Alex

Tom is quite right, both Monmouth & Square Mile produce excellent coffee

They are our competitors, but we appreciate the work they do in raising the profile of gourmet coffee in the UK as it has a long way to go in most establishments

Get in touch & we will send you some samples

Kind regards


Reiss
Http://LondiniumEspresso.com

Katie said...

(linked from Tastespotting)
I stumbled upon Monmouth Coffee when I was in London a few years ago. The space is really cool, and the brewed coffee is done individually with manual pour-over cone filters. I was thrilled! Nice to know they do mail-order, though I couldn't afford the international shipping charges regularly for my coffee.

Alicia Carrier said...

You might want to try Stumptown Coffee sometime! My husband works for them and I am a barista for one of their wholesale accounts, so I guess I'm not very impartial, but it is truly some of the best coffee I've ever had, and their business practices are very good. They buy farm direct and pay their farmers well above fair trade prices for all their beans.

http://stumptowncoffee.com/

Jingo said...

Yes gooood coffee.

Living in Bath I need somewhere closer for my beans, discovered these guys through the Farmers Market down at Green Park Station here in town,

http://www.extractcoffee.co.uk

Their Sumatran Mandheling Fairtrade and Organic is my current fave, so much so I buy 2Kg at a time!!

Richard there is very helpful and will reaaly try to help you find the right blend.

Cheers

Brian

Jingo said...

Try Extract coffee in Bristol, smaller flexible and helpful bunch their Sumatran Mandheling Fairtrade Organic is excellent

http://www.extractcoffee.co.uk/catalog/

Alex Rushmer said...

Tom - good to hear from you. I'll have a looksee at Sqaure Mile

Reiss - Thanks for the message. I'll head on over.

katie - thanks for the comment. I've not made it to the actual shop yet but will do so as soon as I can.

Alicia - thanks for the tip, I'll check it out straight away.

jingo/brian - thanks for stopping by and for the tips. I'll have a look at the site but think I might have to buy a grinder if I'm going to end up with 2kg at a time!

Anonymous said...

I was excited to hear the my favourite coffee in London, Monmouth, had mail order service. I can't always make it to one of their stores so this was a perfect option for me. But when I called them to place my order for 500g of their lovely house blend, I was told I had to pay a courier delivery charge of minimum £8.00! Thanks, but no thanks. How about posting it to me like every other product I order online?

Alex Rushmer said...

Anon - I agree with you but think you may have got the wrong idea, I don't work, nor have anything to do with Monmouth Coffee Company.

Frank, Robin said...

I stumbled upon Monmouth Coffee when I was in London a few years ago. The space is really cool, and the brewed coffee is done individually with manual pour-over cone filters. I was thrilled! Nice to know they do mail-order, though I couldn't afford the international shipping charges regularly for my coffee.