We source ‘Forest Grown’ coffees. Being forest grown improves the quality of the coffee and it’s flavours. Simply put, it tastes better! Forest Grown products are ecologically sustainable and retain valuable rain forests in the growing regions.
WHERE DOES MY COFFEE COME FROM?
Arabica coffee originates from the highlands of Ethiopia. Between the 6th and 13th century, the consumption of coffee spread across the Red Sea to Yemen, where it was first cultivated. The Yemenis gave the coffee its Arabic name Qahwa, which is where we get our words coffee and cafe.
Qahwa originally meant wine, and Sufi mystics in Yemen used coffee as a means to acquire “Divine Intoxication”, their secret to long meditation and chanting sessions. By the 15th century, coffee had spread from Yemen to the rest of the Arab World. In 1554 the first coffee houses opened in Aleppo, Syria. By 1683 the Ottomans had brought coffee to Vienna. During the 17th and 18th centuries, coffee continued to spread to other regions of Africa, the Americas and across Asia. In 1650 a Jewish Turk named Jacob was the first known trader of coffee in Britain. In 1652, Pasque Rosee (originally from Italy) opened the first café in London. During the 17th and 18th centuries, coffee shops spread throughout the city and were called “penny universities”. The name spoke to the type of establishments these coffee shops were to become. They were dedicated to conversation, discussion, debate and the exchange of ideas. The coffee cost a penny, hence “penny university”. The most well-known of these shops was “Jonathan’s Coffee House”, a significant meeting place for London merchants. Jonathan would write the daily trading values on the shop wall, and it was this coffee shop that became the humble beginnings of the present London Stock Exchange. Coffee today is the second most traded commodity after crude oil, and is one of the world’s most popular beverages. Compared to wine, which has been consumed for thousands of years, coffee is a relatively young drink that we have only been drinking the last 500 years. There is still much to learn about crafting this great beverage. Coffee is grown in the tropics, primarily, Brazil, Columbia, Ethiopia and Vietnam. These days when it comes to speciality coffee, there are a huge range of origins and regions. Almost every coffee growing region, grows speciality coffee. Furthermore, they produce a range of coffee varieties, using varying process methods. At &Bloss, we focus on coffees that meet our requirement for quality and flavour. We like to have an on-going relationship with our producers, therefore we buy from producers we visit often. We care greatly about the ethics of farming sustainably and trading responsibly. Be sure to follow our stories of the people who bring these great coffees to you.
WHO GROWS MY COFFEE?
125 million people worldwide depend on coffee as their main source of income. About 80% of the world’s coffee is produced by small-hold farmers. Small-hold coffee farmers produce small quantities of coffee and rely mainly on their family members for labour. Although coffee is one of the world’s most traded and valuable commodities, many of these farmers fail to earn a stable and adequate income to sustain themselves.
While coffee is widely consumed, there is however a lack of appreciation of how to define quality coffee. It starts by knowing where coffee comes from, who cultivated it, and what characterises the coffee being drunk. Due to this market dynamic, most coffee is sold as lower quality, commercial grade coffee, at low market prices. Small-hold farmers, even though their quality of coffee might demand a higher price, are forced to sell their coffee at these market prices. This, effectively traps them into poverty – the stark reality for half of the world’s coffee farmers. This is why Bloss is not just visiting farms before harvest, for a simple hand shake, but is actually ‘on-the-ground’ in the growing regions. We know the farmers, we know their present situation and where they want to be. We’ve sat down with them and listened to their dreams. Over time, as we journey together in coffee, you’ll get to know these people and appreciate what they do for us all, as we enjoy great coffee.
WHY IS FOREST GROWN AND SOCIALLY BALANCED SOURCING SO IMPORTANT?
About 80% of the world’s coffee is grown in direct sunlight, in large mono-crop coffee plantations, rather than multi-crop, or natural forest diverse ecosystems. Shade grown coffees and coffees grown in forests have superior quality. This means we can pay the farmers for better quality and conserving the forrest at the same time.
It’s a win-win for everyone and the planet! Forest grown, shade grown, and multi-crop coffee cultivation produces significantly higher quality coffee, and usually scores higher on the coffee cupping score, with more flavour intensity and complexity. Sun grown coffees can taste very good, however from a flavour perspective they usually don’t have the same level of complexity. Growing plantation coffee, is done for obvious reasons; to maximise yields and profits. However, growing coffee in these mono-crop plantations has an ominous side effect. Scientist say that sun grown coffee farming is having a negative effect on local environments mainly through the over-use of synthetic fertilisers. This style of cultivation, also leads to soil erosion, water pollution, deforestation, unusual wildlife patterns and numbers, introduction of new diseases and more. All these negatively impact communities and individual farmers. It is important to remember that coffee originated from forests on the Ethiopian plateau. Coffee grows best in a forest environment where large trees provide shade that regulate temperature fluctuation. This also supports soil health, fights erosion and provides many other benefits, for both coffee quality and the farming communities. Bloss works with farmers to conserve and/or rejuvenate forests. This has the duel benefit of preserving naturally balanced ecosystems, as well as producing great quality coffee with greater flavour complexity. Farmers can sell this higher grade coffee at a much higher price than commercial grade beans. Premium grade speciality coffee usually sells for at least 3 times the price of the lower grade commercial coffee. This higher price directly improves the life of farmers, and helps break the poverty cycle. Because &Bloss is committed to bring you speciality coffees, we expect to pay a premium price. Good quality coffee, responsibly grown, harvested, processed and roasted doesn’t come easy! It’s our privilege to share these flavours with you, that benefit the forest and the people who grow it.
WHAT IS SPECIALITY COFFEE?
Speciality coffee is a high grade quality coffee that differs from commercial coffee. Every step in producing speciality coffee, from cherry to brew, is controlled to ensure quality. At every point in the supply chain, whether harvesting the beans at the farm, processing, transporting, sorting or shipping, its critical for the coffee to be controlled at a high standard.
Any deviation from this process can cause a speciality bean to fall to a commercial grade and all that prior effort wasted, not to mention the missed experience for you! That’s why serving speciality coffee takes time, skill, and collaboration. In the coffee family tree, there are 125 species of coffee but only two are common; Arabica (the coffee that makes up the vast majority of global production) and Robusta (the more robust of the two, easier to grow and packs twice the caffeine). Arabica usually has superior flavour qualities relative to Robusta. However, both Arabica and Robusta can be speciality grade. Coffee is defined as specialty, by Q-graders who are industry expert cuppers. They grade the attributes of the green coffee, roasted bean and brewed coffee, following a globally recognised cupping protocol that grades the coffee out of 100 points. For a coffee to be speciality it must score 80 or more. However, these days coffees are often only traded as speciality when they score at 85 and above. Not all growing regions are suited for producing high grade coffee. There are many factors influencing the quality of coffee. Some of these factors are micro climates, soil conditions, elevation, rainfall, slope angle and daily temperature range etc. The magic happens when all these align with great passion and human skill. Bloss has been privileged to work with farmers to collaborate and produce some exquisite coffees. We’ve been investing in best practice, knowledge, and local know-how. We’re continually engaged in feedback from our partners at the farm, actively looking for ways to improve the coffee. All this ensures that the coffee can speak for itself, full of complex flavour, delivering a great coffee experience.
WHY DO COFFEES TASTE SO DIFFERENT?
Coffee is a complex product. It is quite possibly one of the most complex seeds we consume, made up of hundreds of different compounds. All the steps from cultivating, picking, processing, roasting to brewing, impact the flavour of coffee.
By the time you and I get to enjoy all these complex flavours in a great cup of coffee, the coffee will have passed through six distinct processing steps; 1) the growing of the cherry, 2) the harvesting 3) a processing/fermentation step, 4) drying and resting, 5) roasting and finally 6) extraction in water. At any of these steps, the flavours of the coffee will be positively, or negatively effected. The stages with the greatest potential for developing positive and/or negative flavour attributes, are the processing/fermentation and roasting steps. This is why Bloss is specifically involved in working at the farm with our partners, to facilitate improvements in the processing and fermentation methods. This isn’t a static process. As trends in the coffee industry change, new methods must develop to meet customer demands. For example, honey processed and natural processed coffees are presently in high demand, but this will in time change as well. Bloss is passionate about roasting coffees, to ensure that the unique flavours of a specific region or micro-lot, are celebrated and highlighted. This invites all who drink these coffees to fully appreciate the wide range of coffees out there.
DOES IT MATTER HOW I ROAST COFFEE?
Green coffee beans (un-roasted beans) have no flavour. The flavours we love so much are developed when coffee is roasted. It takes an expert roaster to fully develop the flavours in each batch of specialty beans. During the roasting process two main chemical reactions are responsible for the development of great taste in the coffee; the Mailard reaction and Caramelisation.
The science involved here is deep, but roasting is a mixture of science and art, applying principles and creativity in order to land on a specific flavour profile. There are generally three roast categories; light, medium and dark. Darker roasts tend to be more full bodied, with sweet and smoky flavours. Lighter roasts tend to be brighter with a thin body. Medium roasts aim to have a balance of both. Within every coffee, there are specific flavour attributes, with differing levels of intensity. These are; acidity/brightness, body, fruitiness, nutty flavour, herbal and spicy flavours. When it comes to single origin coffees and micro lots, you’ll recognise their differences by these differing attributes. Each of us have our preferences, and so we encourage you to explore this wide world of coffee flavours.
HOW DO I MAKE A GOOD CUP OF COFFEE?
Making a good cup of coffee is all about following the proper principles of brewing. Factors influencing the ultimate result can be many. There are six coffee brewing essentials.
The first is brewing equipment, followed by type of filter, then ratio of coffee to water. Next is the grind size, the quality of water and finally the brewing technique. All this can seem daunting. Therefore, &Bloss has developed brew guides to make brewing coffee as simple and approachable as possible. These brew guides will help you make a great cup of coffee every time. Once you’ve got that down, experiment with changing some of the variables to see how it changes different aspects of the coffee. We recommend you only change one variable at a time. This way, you will be able to pinpoint which variable impacts which aspect of your coffee experience. Enjoy the journey!