Most of my blogs are about other people behind the bar. But on Saturday I had cause to actually brew some coffee myself. Browns’ Coffeehouse hosted an evening event between 6 and 9 showcasing some great beers, provided by the Bottle Shop, and some amazing coffee. The coffee served was filter only, and there was certainly a worry that the complexities of the coffee, and the fact that there was a ‘no milk no sugar’ embargo in place, would not be fully appreciated.
The evening exceeded our wildest expectations. Not only did no one ask for milk or sugar in their coffee, people were fully engaged and enthusiastic when it came to hearing about the different processes of the coffees and how they were made. Seeing so much passion for black gold outside of London was truly inspiring. The beer tasting gave an interesting dimension to the event, and made it feel informal and chilled out. A link between the two was achieved by serving a pairing between a chocolate porter and a shot of espresso, designed to be sipped alternately to enhance the flavours of each. And it was busy, not just for a little while, but for all three hours, with people alternating between coffee and beer, treating the two as interchangeable (coffee is the new alcohol!).
The coffee layout was 3 baristas, serving 3 coffees in 3 different brew methods. Chemex, aeropress and V60. This gave people the opportunity to try very different coffees through the equipment that made them the most interesting. Josh, the owner of Browns, was brewing an Origin Finca Potosi through Chemex, whilst Thom, head barista, made Workshop‘s unique Finca Tamana (which, with this recipe, tastes unquestionably like tomato soup). Finally, I was using Caravan‘s Dumerso Yirgacheffe – used by the 2013 UK Barista Championship 3rd placer, Estelle Bright – in the V60 to make a creamy-strawberry mix of subtle flavours.
These had a brilliant reception, and I was thrilled to hear, many-a-time, people say, “I never knew coffee could taste like this!” To see a coffee shop so busy after 6, outside of London, was really an experience of which to be part. I don’t think Browns will be abandoning their espresso-based coffee any time soon, but it suggests a trend that change in coffee is capable of happening outside the square mile.