On the 9th March I attended my first coffee cupping at Grind and Tamp with Atkinsons, a local roaster based in Lancaster. I have tasted their coffee on a number of occasions in a few of the coffee houses I have visited and it does not disappoint.
Before the event I didn’t really know what to expect. I knew that coffee cupping involved testing the characteristics of different coffees but not quite how the evening would unfold. Enter two charismatic, friendly looking coffee experts with nine different and diverse coffees in a room full of enthusiastic coffee lovers. If you took blood from Casper or Jacob I am almost certain that they would bleed coffee as they have been raised with the business from when they were young. After the event I chatted to Casper for a while and he explained how, when he tried to do something other than work with coffee, he felt lost and returned to the family business almost immediately.
Nine different coffees were on offer at the event. Set out on a table in the middle of the room, the selection of coffees were brewed for a few minutes. In that time, a crust forms on top of each cup which is then broken before any excess grinds on the surface are spooned away.
Once the coffees were ready, Casper and Jacob introduced each of the nine varieties on offer describing both their origins and flavour profiles. The benefit of a coffee cupping is that you can taste coffees side by side for a direct comparison, something which is often impractical in a home setting. The most unique offering came from the Natural Geisha coffee with a distinctive aroma and sweet wine gum-esq taste. The intriguing story of how Natural Geisha came into existence, and how the spelling changed from Gesha to Geisha can be found on the Atkinsons website!
Casper and Jacob explained how the coffee was sourced and how Atkinsons had developed a partnership with a company in London in order to source the very best coffee. I learned a lot from the talk about how coffee is sourced and found it really interesting how Atkinsons visited the farmers who were responsible for their coffees on a regular basis. Travelling to origin is important to Atkinsons, both because they want to see where their coffee is coming from but also so that the farmers can see where their coffee is going and how it is going to be used.
The end of the evening brought the opportunity to buy your favourite coffee of the night. I chose Sao Francisco, a full bodied chocolatey coffee from Brazil. The coffee is produced using the pulped natural method, for a full explanation of different coffee processes I recommend attending a coffee cupping with Atkinsons themselves! The energy boost I have experienced after drinking a cup of freshly ground Sao Francisco is quite something; I wouldn’t recommend drinking this too soon before going to bed!
On the advice of Casper I bought whole instead of ground beans. One of the most important things I learned from Atkinson’s coffee cupping is that the majority of the coffees aroma is lost within 20 minutes of the grinding. Although it adds a few minutes to the coffee making process, grinding beans each time you make a coffee preserves the aromas of the coffee much more than using beans already ground at the point of purchase. Plus, there is nothing better than a room which smells of coffee first thing in the morning. Purchasing a small hand grinder for use at home is well worth the cost and the effort and I recommend the Rhinowares Coffee Grinder from Second City Coffee for anybody looking for an easy to use device.
Although Atkinsons are a very well established company, there is still room for growth. They have opened two cafes: The Hall and The Music Room in Lancaster and are always on the look out for the best coffee beans in order to maintain and improve their diverse offering. One thing is for certain, if you visit a cafe where Atkinson’s coffee is on offer, you should not hesitate to order it!