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While my Top 8 appeared in the Irish Examiner this weekend, there were a few which we tested which didn’t make the final selection. Here’s why. The full article will be available soon on the Irish Examiner website.
Coffee is cool and places to drink it are too. A barometer of how prosperous we are is the number of cafés in a town or city, and if it is, we are clawing ourselves out of the recession. There are plenty of good cafés in Ireland and they have given us a taste for good home brews, so I took a look this week on the newest and compared them with some classics. I was spoilt for choice this time so those who didn’t make the final 8 are on my blog at rozcrowley.com.
So if we choose well, we must make sure we brew it correctly to bring out the best flavour. I consulted barrista Alex Bruce of Filter café on George’s Quay, Cork. His method for those with a French press/plunger/cafetiere is to pour some hot water into the jug to heat it while the kettle is boiling. Discard and add a tablespoon of coffee per person, or about 60g per litre. When the water comes just off the boil, cover the coffee with some of the water, stir and allow to sit for 30 seconds to allow it to ‘bloom’ and extract the best flavour. Then top up with the rest of the water. Stir and allow to sit for two minutes before serving.
The number on many packs of coffee indicates strength, a five being the most intense, one the mildest, and our samples were mostly true to the number. It’s not an indication of quality, however, and it’s far more enjoyable to ask a barrista or get advice from good retailers.
Pónaire Indian Blend , 450g.€10.90
Slightly smoky and a little sweet, rich and full of fruit and deep coffee and chocolate flavours and aromas. Malabar beans from El Salvador are roasted in Co Limerick. Good value for this size and quality. On line only at www.ponaire.ie. Good value and post-free for more than one pack.
Golden Bean Nossa Senhora de Fatima, 250g €7 – €7.50
This Brazilian coffee has hints of toasted walnut, dark molasses and a little smokiness, like malt. The result is a sweet fullness with loads of flavour. All tasters agreed it was delicious. Available at Douglas, Wilton and Mahon markets, Rocket Man Princes Street and Filter George’s Quay, Cork. Usually sold in a brown environment-friendly bag. Roasted in East Cork.
Badger & Dodo Guatemala El Piru, 250g €7 (double checking price)
Sweet, with a nice, clean, citrus acidity, it is deep, full bodied and well balanced. Made from 100% red bourbon beans from the Antigua region of Guatemala. Roasted in Fermoy, this is a delicious coffee full of complex flavours and interest.
Mahers Skybury, 200g €7
Arabica beans grown in Cairns, Australia was a first for all tasters.
A lovely, fresh taste was elegant and interesting. For those not needing a strong kick. Available at Mahers shop on Oliver Plunkett Street, Cork.
Greenbean Café Supremo, 250g €7.27
A deliciously warming coffee with sweet notes and plenty of flavour.
Roasted in Co. Louth and selling mainly to trade, the coffee can be bought on line at www.greenbeanroasters.com. Postage extra.
Cork Coffee Roasters Morning Growler, 227g €6.00
Roasted in Cork, this Arabica blend will certainly clear away the morning cobwebs. It’s a punchy one with an arresting liveliness and plenty of flavour. Not for the faint hearted.
Tesco Finest Honduras, 227g €2.99
The tasting notes on this No 3 medium pack say sweet and mellow and certified Fair Trade
Caramel sweetness and juicy fruit notes with hint of vanilla and mellow aftertaste0
Aldi Specially Selected Ethiopian, 200g €2.49
This No 4 medium strong, of 100% Arabica beans is a lot cheaper than most and has plenty of flavour fro the money. The flavours are not as complex and interesting as our top markers, but a very acceptable beverage.
Starbucks medium house blend, 227g €4.99
A little bitter and not as full flavoured as many of the other samples, it tasted better when made as a latté.
Marks & Spencer Peruvian coffee, 227g €5.19
This new coffee from M&S claims to be intense and velvety with chocolate and almond notes 100% Arabica
A little nutty, the taste of this 100% Arabica coffee is smooth and easy. No strong bite that we expected from a no 5 strength, so it disappointed those who wanted more of a hit.
Bewleys Organic Guatemala, 227g €4.49
Organic and Fairtrade, this mild/medium no 2 roasted Arabica bean coffee is