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.