We love a good guest (coffee) – Baltzersen’s Roast & Coffee Research

Head barista Ben Loebell demonstrates wonders of latte art and slow-motion capture

At Baltzersen’s we really, really love our coffee. However we’re not a specialty coffee shop, and our education in the curious, invigorating and passionate world of coffee roasting and brewing excites us as much as the coffee does itself.

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It’s wonderful to be a young business surrounded by opportunities, events and passionate experts, only too happy to share knowledge, experience and wisdom, and of course provide us with opportunities to expand both our  gustatory, olfactory and indeed intellectual palates.

On that note, it’s time to summarise some of the caffeinated events in and around Baltzersen’s recently:

New Single Origin guest coffee – Granitos de Ortiz:

We’ve been downright giddy exploring the single origins we got from White Label Coffee in Amsterdam; we even hosted a V60/Aeropress comparison. Results were fascinating.

coffeeHowever, we’re down to the last of these fantastic beans, which means bringing in a new guest coffee for our Single Origin brew. This time around we’re giving the Manchester-based Passion Fruit roasters a whirl, anticipating great things from their Granitos de Ortiz roast from Costa Rica. Tasting notes include citrus and fresh mint, so there’s plenty to look forward to in terms of brewing experimentation. Prep that aeropress, guys.

Why we love North Star Micro Roasters:

“I usually avoid decaf coffee like the plague,” Rob remarked.

“Indeed,” Paul noted, “it usually tastes like disappointment.”

This otherwise banal excerpt of café banter is singled out, with an emphasis on Paul’s ‘usually.’ Because the conversation was scored by a highly unusual brew. A decaf, but not just any decaf.

“F*ck off, this can’t be a decaf, can it? Why am I smiling then?”

coffeeNorth Star are the first micro roasters to burn their mark in the Leeds coffee roasting scene, and we’ll be damned if they don’t make a fine job of it. We’ve had immense pleasure while employing their Dark Arches espresso blend; if you’ve had a coffee from us recently, you’ve probably tasted it.

But even more intriguing is a dark, mysterious bag of beans with the North Star logo and the label MEXICO FINCA MUXBAL DECAF. Now, there’s a reason decaf coffee is often treated as a last resort, for specific medical circumstances only. The process of washing out the caffeine takes most of the flavour with it. Coffee purists don’t avoid it necessarily for the lack of a caffeine fix; it really does taste like disappointment.

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Pictured: not disappointment

Which is why Ben, Paul and Rob stood rather slack-jawed upon taking an almost accidental sip of the Mexico Finca Muxbal decaf. There was flavour. There was texture, notes and afternotes. Depth, substance and intrigue. Or, as the description on the bag put it: “delicious honeyed sweetness with notes of rich praline and cocoa.”

So how did they wash these beans? With the tears of angels? Some other kind of black magic? We’re afraid to ask; we simply humbly accept this gift from some higher power and pray for more incredible surprises from North Star Micro Roasters (prayers we’re quite sure will be answered in time). Regardless, the Mexico Finca Muxbal decaf is well worth a try, believe it or not – tasting is believing.

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Dark Woods Coffee give us reason to be excited:

(and other events)

After attending Falcon Specialty Coffee and North Star Roast‘s 2014 Rwanda Cup of Excellence only a few weeks ago, you can only imagine how chuffed we were to receive an invite from La Bottega Milanese in Leeds to the cupping they were hosting. The cupping was to be lead by Dark Woods Coffee; a new roaster in town, but as time would soon tell, looks can be deceiving. A full report is on its way from Paul and Rob, in the meantime we feel obliged to give everyone a heads up about these fantastic roasters, and Baltzersen’s plans for future coffee events.

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Dark Woods Coffee are a new specialty roaster on the UK coffee map. With years of experience, including some phenomenal work with Grumpy Mule, Damian Blackbird and Paul Meikle-Janney have made their mark on the bordering line of Yorkshire and Lancashire, keeping a sense of Northern heritage while building an intensely critical and refined roastery, with the highest research standards. We won’t give away much now, but roasts from Colombia and Panama were the topic of much frantic (read: over-caffeinated) discussion. If you’re curious, pop over to our friends at Bean & Bud; they’ll be happy to provide details and a taste.

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With the holiday seasons, we’ll be making attempts to add some festive & communal cheer. Perhaps it won’t be long before Baltzersen’s hosts our own cupping (Scandi-inspired, of course).  There’s talk of Viking chess boards and a potential game night, not to mention the treats and prizes that come with the shortened winter days.

In the meantime, head barista Ben Loebell is meditating, seeing a Reiki Master and going on juice cleanses in preparation for the upcoming SCAE UK Latte Art Competition. Actually, he’s just using an absurd amount of milk on the practice, but we’ll follow the proverb’s advice without speaking its name. We put our full support behind our latte art guru, and wish him luck with the competition in December. We’ll be sure to bring you updates. Ben also was recently on a “research” trip to London (read: DFA1979 are on tour) – he’ll be giving us a full report before long.

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More coffee news coming soon – in the meantime, you could read Paul Hopwood’s take on the London independent coffee scene, or follow Rob’s adventure up the Norwegian coast in search for the best coffee Norway has to offer.

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