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    Where does your coffee come from? Rwanda Edition

    Where does your coffee come from? Rwanda Edition

    Rwanda coffee is often quite delicate tasting with a pleasant sweet, caramel aroma with hints of citrus.

    In general, Rwanda coffees are more highly reviewed than their neighbouring regions. About 95% of Rwanda’s coffee plantations produce high quality Arabica beans. Most of the coffee is wet processed often at communal washing stations used by numerous coffee farmers.

    Rwandan coffee is grown at elevations ranging from 1,200 to 1,800 metres above sea level. The Rwanda coffee plants flower in September and October and the coffee cherry is often harvested in March through to July.

    Due to the difficulties getting the Rwanda coffee crop to market, many farmers were discouraged from significant production of high quality coffee. An increasing ability of rural farmers to process their coffee and get it to wholesale market bodes well for the future of Rwanda coffee farming.

    Establishing your palate

    Establishing your palate

    Have you ever been told a coffee has ‘berry undertones’, only to take a sip and find that it actually tastes like… well, coffee? Don’t be disheartened and don’t lose faith in third-wave coffee – flavour descriptions really are more than just marketing ploys. Like wine, coffee can develop a completely different taste depending on its origin and the production process it goes through. And with practice, you can identify all sorts of complex flavours.

    Cupping

    Coffee cupping is professional tasting and sniffing. Its how roasters and buyers get to know and measure every batch of coffee. The process is identical all over the world, whether on a farm in Colombia or in an inner-suburban roasting room.

    • Each taste has a cup or bowl with 150-200ml capacity, 10g of ground coffee and 92 degree water that’s poured over the coffee and allowed to stand for 5 minutes, forming a crust.
    • Tasters break the crust, scrape off the grounds from the surface and allow to stand for another 5 minutes.
    • Tasting is achieved by deeply sniffing and slurping the coffee so it spreads to the back of the tongue.

    Single Origin and Blends

    Single Origin and Blends

    The term ‘single-origin Coffee’ might sound self-explanatory, but the rules of what exactly defines a ‘single origin’ are hazy and widely debated. Depending on who you’re talking to, it might mean a single farm, a collection of farms in one region or a whole range of other possibilities. Whatever the case, the idea is that it’s pure in that, depending on how it’s been handled, it represents the true terroir of the region from which it’s come.

    Often beans from several origins are blended, the idea being to combine the characteristics of various coffees to create a well-balanced and complex blending of flavours and body. Specialty coffee roasters often blend with a particular brew method in mind, to create the ideal final cup flavour. If you’re just starting to become interested in specialty coffee, trying out a few different dingle origins can be a good way to develop a palate – you may be surprised at the range of flavours you begin to notice.

    Where does your coffee come from? Colombia Edition

    Where does your coffee come from? Colombia Edition

    After years of fighting and suffering, the ‘new’ Colombia is now a strong world economy with a bright future. Coffee is one of the natural resources which is helping the economy excel today.

    Colombia is the third largest Spanish speaking country in the world behind Mexico and Spain, and boasts a population of over 46 million people. Colombia has a rich cultural tapestry dating back to its first inhabitants around nine thousand years ago.

    Coffee production in Colombia has a reputation of producing mild, well balanced coffee beans. Colombia’s average annual coffee production is 11.5 million bags and is the third highest total in the world. Most coffee is grown in the Colombian coffee growing axis region. This is also known as the coffee triangle and is part of the Colombian Paisa Region. There are three departments in the area, Caldas, Quindio and Risaralda. These departments are among the smallest departments in Colombia.

    Coffee is one of the natural resources which is helping the economy excel today.

    Would you like a taste of Colombia? Try our Colombian blend in Nespresso capsules today!

    Milk or Sugar?

    Milk or Sugar?

    Sure, some third wavers may frown, but milk, sugar and coffee are a power trio that have been linked up for far too long to be ignored. But what to make of all those tut-tuts around soy and skinny? What of the looks of disapproval as you reach for the sugar bowl? Never mind them, we say put whatever you darn well like into your coffee.

    (UN)HOLY COW

    We’ve mentioned that milk doesn’t always suit specialty coffees, but that doesn’t mean you have to rule it out completely. With the right bean and the right brew (think strong and rich, such as espresso or French press), a bit of milk can actually complement and enrich the coffee’s flavour. However, not all milks are created equal: any pro barista will happily serve up a full-cream flat white, but skinny and soy milks are a different story.

    Skinny

    There are very few cafés that don’t offer skinny milk, even specialty ones, so it may seem quite self-important of those few that don’t serve it. Their reasoning is generally that because of the lower fat content, skinny milk has an inferior mouthfeel. When textured, the foam in skinny milk separates more quickly from the milk and the flavour of the coffee is altered, usually for the worse.

    This is all true enough, and it’s understandable that baristas want their expensive beans to be shown at their very best. But you’re the barista now, so it’s your call – if you truly love the richness of a full-cream latte, then sadly no low-fat alternative is going to cut it.

    Soy

    Like skinny, soy is much aligned among some specialty coffee makers. It heats quickly, so it can be a real challenge to get food micro-foam. It’s also been accused of curdling in certain coffees, and has a strong, nutty flavour that is definitely either love or hate.

    But if black coffee’s not your thing and lactose is not even to be considered, there are some soy milks that are known to be better for frothing. The most commonly recommended soy is the milky and creamy, Bonsoy.

    The Sweet Stuff

    Sugar

    Specialty coffee-lovers argue that sugar drowns the natural sweetness of any seriously good coffee, so it may not be worth investing in specialty beans if you can’t enjoy them without that sweet kick. If you are a massive sweet tooth, though, you might like to play around with different kinds of sugar – perhaps try a dark brown or raw sugar for a richer flavour and see how it interacts with the coffee.

    Flavours

    The caramel latte may be out of vogue, but that shouldn’t stop you from adding flavoured syrups to your home brews. Some commercial coffee roasters even sell coffee with flavours, such as hazelnut and vanilla, already infused into the beans. Just remember that if you use these regularly the flavours will seep into your grinder and brewing equipment, changing the flavour of future cups.