Coffee Tasting: Ethiopian Yingacheffe and “Yule Love It” Blend

For today’s coffee tasting[1] I wandered for the first time to The Music Rooms which is located in Sun Square in Lancaster and is the new Café owned by Atkinson‘s coffee shop and rightly deserves to name itself as the “finest coffee in the North West”[2].

The Taste

[Please note this is not a professional tasting guide, just an enthusiast, I have used language that is in the register of food & drink tasting only to sound coherent, even if there is some debate as to whether this is fully cogent]

Ethiopian Yingacheffe

I drank this coffee as a filter coffee.

Gentle on the nose which entices with scents of sweet milk chocolate notes and a roast hazelnut essence. Smooth on the palate with a nice backtaste that reminds me of caramelised prunes.

With milk this becomes beautifully choclatey. Would make a nice latte and feel more like a mocha with that milk chocolate nature on the nose and palate.

Yule Love It

A blend of:

Old Brown Java
Ethiopian Yingacheffe
High Roasted Salvador

This was today’s espresso chaser 🙂

Zesty and sharp on the nose on a deep sniff but the blend hides the dark riches to come as the Java is hidden in the chocolate-scented Ethiopian and the Salvadorian, there was a feeling of citrus present, but it was a little more astringent than usual, a little lime perhaps or more a sharp grapefruit.

The Java in this blend makes this a powerful espresso. A rich strong kick that lingers on the tongue leaving an impression of licorice and to my mind losing most of the other two coffees. Perhaps there is an impression that the Java is smoothed by the addition of the Salvador but it was lost on me, maybe because the standard “office” coffee we use is Old Brown, or maybe becuase I greedily drank my expresso down and didn’t linger too long in the smelling. To my disadvantage with both of these coffees that I tasted today was that I wasn’t able to sniff the beans both ground and unground beforehand which always helps me to scent out the delicate smells (not that I am in any way correct about what I can smell 🙂 ).

The aftertaste lingers and leaves a note of bitterness and a hint of acidity displaying some of the citrus impressions felt on the nose.

I liked the “Yule Love It” and once again I am awed by the skill of the coffee producers, i have to say that it didn’t quite ‘blow me away’ as the “Santa’s Dark Secret” (but I am a strong dark coffee whore), but it is a worthy drink nevertheless.

Sun Square as always is a quiet seclusion in a busy town, I do hope many other Lancastrians find their way there as the cafes/restaurants on the square are all excellent in value and experience and different to each other in what they offer so that one has no guilt over which to frequent and patronise as you can visit each of them.

The staff in The Music Room deserve a special note as they were friendly, helpful and chatty. it is nice to go to a shop where you are invited to sit and make yourself comfortable as they are only to happy to bring a drink to you.

[1] [1] Please note that this is an Unsolicited Blog, okay I do use the same coffee shop, and the cafés in Sun Square, but they are in the city where I live, they provide a quality local service, not a manufactured chain store customer service guidelined response, and they are a very friendly and helpful group of people, so yes, I do gush about them in glowing terms. And, if by reading this blog you visit them and purchase some of their produce I say Huzzah, one for the local businesses with dedicated and talented professional employees.

[2] This accolade is used on their signage and I believe was awarded to them, no doubt they could tell you who declared it, I am happy to second it. I haven’t in fact found a coffee supplier as good in the UK as yet. I suspect the accolade comes from FFNW (Fine Foods North West) whose awards ceremony I believe Atkinson‘s have been winners at for a few years. See the blog article here (http://www.atkinsonsteaandcoffee.co.uk/page.php?Page=100).[3]

[3] Note that this coffee is reviewed by me here (http://www.markkeating.me.uk/2010/11/24/coffee-tasting-santuario/)

Coffee Tasting: Santa’s Dark Secret Blend

Once more I wandered to Atkinsons[1] to purchase some of their Xmas special blend, Santa’s Dark Secret and oh Santa you are a little naughtier[2] in the cup than suggested by your cover:

which looks likes every other Atkinsons cover as if they employed staff tutored in the nineteenth century. Atkinsons has an old world charm, every time I walk into the shop I think that if Dickens were to be stood at the counter discussing the novel Hard Times and it’s relationship to Preston and Lancashire he would not be out of place, and I could quiz him on Messers Chokeumchild and Gladgrind.

Also, to some of my readers who know I am a fan of decaf coffee as I sometimes like to sleep at night, you should note that this is a caffeinated blend, being neither neutered, broken, nor having as one might put it, “all its f*cking life sucked out leaving a no fun cup of p*ss replacement”.

The Taste

[Please note this is not a professional tasting guide, just an enthusiast, I have used language that is in the register of food & drink tasting only to sound coherent, even if there is some debate as to whether this is fully cogent]

The smell of this coffee completely blew me away when I first sniffed the freshly ground beans, it was so complex I really couldn’t work out what I could smell. So many scents were vying for my attention and this was not eased when I brewed a fresh pot.

The scents were not overpowering, they were all just…present…omnipresent even, each one a distinct and tantilising aroma that mingle and entice the sense and distract the attention. I personally felt there was a sense of Government Java and maybe some African coffee aromas (I thought I could detect Ethiopian but am probably way off the mark). So it would be guess work of the first order to try and decipher the beans/types. So instead I will tell you there is more than a hint of citrus in the nose, really reminiscent of orange oil mixed in with brazil nut and cocoa.

The cup quickly brings up a moderate crema, no doubt a machine would produce a satisfying top, and the first mouthful shocks you. The taste on the tongue is nowhere near as overpowering as the nose. Those distinct scents are lost and instead we have a smooth dark coffee that tastes full bodied and would, to my mind, confuse people if they hadn’t smelt it first. it does not taste like a blend, it has more of a feeling of a good blue bean coffee, reminded me of a coffee I had in Florida that was from a select Jamaican farm. It is fresh and rich and thoroughly Christmassy.

For once I am not going to try this coffee with milk, it would in my opinion completely kill this magnificent coffee. Have this coffee black or as an espresso, and have it quickly before Santa leaves for another year.

To summarise, while he’s not, quite, the Messiah, he is a very satisfying Santa, so bravo to the master mixer/roaster at Atkinsons once more.

[1] Please note that this is an Unsolicited Blog, okay I do use the same coffee shop, but they are in the city where I live, they roast their own beans and they are a very friendly and helpful group of people, so yes, I do gush about them in glowing terms. And, if by reading this blog you visit them and purchase some of their produce I say Huzzah, one for the local businesses with dedicated and talented professional employees.

[2] Middle English noughti, wicked,

Coffee Tasting: Santuario

Introduction

I have decided to start blogging my coffee/tea experiences since I have been writing them down in my tasting notes in some hope of building a short history for myself as I often forget which coffee I have really enjoyed. this becomes a pain when months later you want to revisit a certain flavour experience.

The coffee is bought from Atkinsons coffee shop (http://www.atkinsonsteaandcoffee.co.uk) in Lancaster, purveyors of fine coffee and teas. The coffee is roasted in the shop by talented experts so the taste experience is enhanced by the superior skill of the staff.

Atkinsons Coffee shop in Lancaster. (This image is taken from Atkinsosn own website, all copyright and image ownerships remains with Atkinsons.)

Tasting

[Please note this is not a professional tasting guide, just an enthusiast, I have used language that is in the register of food & drink tasting only to sound coherent, even if there is some debate as to whether this is fully cogent]

The coffee is a regional winner (North West Taste Awards 2010) and so attracted my interest. The coffee was freshly ground by Atkinsons for cafetiere so that we could have an unadulterated tasting in the office (our excellent coffee machine grinds the beans to cup, so would need a thorough cleaning to make it acceptable for tasting).

The coffee has a soft scent which confused me as I wasn’t quite sure what notes I could detect, Matt (mst) thought that there was an element of nutmeg to it, which he could also detect in the taste, to my thinking it was a slightly nutty chocolate. The chocolate continued when on the palate where the coffee was very smooth and I thought I caught a zesty afterpunch which I imagine could be bitter if brewed too richly. Leigh enjoyed her tasting, she thought the coffee was smooth and not too bitter (an important facet for her as bitter coffees require her to use a little brown sugar when drinking them black).

For completeness I tried the coffee with a little milk (I know sacrilege, the horror, the horror) and found the milk a tad overbearing so a Latte would no doubt drench the subtler flavours of this blend, but a good cappuccino if made on the richer side would probably be quite nice.

A little research on the internet pulled up an article on Londinium Expresso (http://londiniumespresso.com/blogs/londinium-espresso-blog/1472762-new-in-columbian-santuario-estate-bourbon-variety) where they have tried this bean as an espresso, they note that the bean needs to be rested after roasting to take away the acidic edge that it apparently suffers from.

Since we never made an espresso it is hard for me to comment upon this, but I did detect citrus/zesty notes (which Londinium Expresso have as flavour of Orange) which could be linked to acidity I imagine. I can only assume that the reason it wasn’t acidic to our tasting is because Atkinsons know their coffee.