We've Bean Thinking Blog

We love discovering new blends and roasts.

Something old, something new.

There’s something about January which raises hopes and stirs the senses. New plans, new places to discover and, for me, new coffees to try.

Right now, I’m sitting here sipping on a rather nice single origin Mexican roast from Dundee’s newest roastery, Brewery Lane. This medium roasted coffee is made from organic beans from the cloud forest biosphere reserve in the Chiapas region in Mexico and fully delivers on its promised tasting notes of caramel, chocolate and hazelnut, which combine to make a delightfully enjoyable coffee.

But it’s not all ‘out with the old, in the with new’. Taste and smell are powerful sensations and can evoke memories and emotions well beyond their moment in your mouth.

Take, for instance, our long-awaited Christmas trip to the in-laws. Coffee on Boxing Day morning took an interesting turn when my Father-in-Law, knowing I liked coffee, disappeared deep into a kitchen cupboard and resurfaced, proudly brandishing his Russell Hobbs coffee percolator.

Percolated coffee was high fashion in the dinner party decade of the 1970s. I remember both my parents and grandparents had percolators and just seeing it on the kitchen worktop brought back a flood of memories from past festivities.

Although you can still buy them, the percolation coffee brewing method has fallen out of favour. Purists point out that the percolation process regurgitates the coffee through multiple extractions, and results in bitter, over-brewed coffee.

A cross between a stove-top coffee maker, a kettle and a modern drip decanter, the percolator is a complicated hybrid.

My Father-in-Law, Mike, has got his coffee percolation methods honed to a fine art and, after showing me how it all worked, set about creating my Boxing Day brew.

Once switched on this gurgling and burping contraption belched its way into steaming hot coffee. Swirled into hot milk, it created a rich, smooth and slightly more syrupy coffee experience than you get with modern brewing methods.

The percolator was knocked off its perch with the evolution of instant coffee in the 80s, however the market shift was probably more to do with convenience than with taste. Like all good coffee brewing methods, percolation takes time, patience and a commitment to the process. And it’s the process that creates the memorable moment. This decades old percolator doesn’t just make coffee, it conjures up memories of dinner parties with friends, family gatherings and special occasions. Who wouldn’t want a special vintage coffee making contraption in their house that did just that?

Brewery Lane Coffee: www.brewerylanecoffee.co.uk

Vintage Russell Hobbs Coffee Percolators: Available in charity shops and on second-hand auction sites for as little as £15.

Article First Published in The Menu Magazine on 8/2/22 in The Courier and Press & Journal

Mhor Coffee tops the ‘Indy Best’ list for annual coffee subscriptions

A Perth-based coffee brand that started their business during the first lockdown is celebrating this week after being voted ‘Best Annual Coffee Subscription’ by The Independent.

Mhor Coffee, run by husband and wife team Ian Christie and Tricia Fox, launched their own range of artisan coffees and a digital artisan coffee marketplace in response to the huge surge in demand for good quality at-home coffee options experienced during the pandemic. 

Avid coffee lovers, Tricia and Ian found themselves ordering regularly from a range of artisan coffee producers and spotted a gap in the market for pulling all these specialists under one roof for other coffee lovers to discover and explore.

Reviewers for The Independent’s ‘Indy Best’ praised their e-commerce platform for the wide range of Mhor Coffee’s exclusive roasts, plus the selection of guest and seasonal blends for purchase, all delivered direct to the customer’s door.

Recommending Mhor Coffee’s Annual Subscription as an ideal gift, reviewers were impressed with both the price range and the individual approach to packaging, highlighting the handwritten illustrated card that accompanies each subscription as a particularly welcoming touch.

“We’re very excited to have been voted Best Annual Subscription in the Independent’s Indy Bests, this has just made our whole year and is a lovely way to move forward into 2022,” says Tricia.

“We’re a tiny team, who started business during a pandemic, and we’re now sending coffee and accessories all around the UK every month. Support from the public for small businesses is so very important at the moment and we’re incredibly grateful to all our loyal subscribers who have been very much a part of this success.”

For more information on coffee subscriptions, visit www.mhor.coffee  

In search of perfection….

I’ve been trying to decide if coffee brings out the perfectionist in me, or whether it’s the combination of the pandemic and too many cups of the caffeinated stuff has heightened my anxiety.

You see, there’s a distinctive noise that my Wilfa Svart coffee grinder makes when it runs out of beans, signalling to me that the coffee is ground and ready to brew. My husband, however, likes to load it with beans, and then leave some in it, unground. It’s this haphazard bean abandonment that’s making me a little bit twitchy.

The perfect cup of coffee is all about measurement. Weighing (yes, weighing) the beans to get the perfect serve, honing the grind and measuring the right amount of water into the coffee maker. For perfectionists, this is nirvana. Every. Single. Stage. Must. Be. Right.

Failure in any one of these critical steps can lead to, well, a less than perfect cup of coffee.

But I’ve never been one for following rules so the coffee grinding twitchiness is a new sensation. The Wilfa is not my first grinder. My first was, I’m slightly ashamed to admit, a cheap cylindrical object I bought on Amazon and gifted to the aforementioned husband for Christmas. What’s his is mine, right?

It was fun while it lasted. The grinder, not the husband. The blades eventually carved a considerable groove in the metal-casing. Goodness knows how many tiny shards of tin we’ve consumed as a result. You are duly warned.

When it came to purchasing the next grinder, I was wiser. The beautiful Wilfa Svart came into my life just shortly afterwards with all its lovely burrs, buttons and bean hopper. It grinds for every type of coffee maker, from cafetieres to espresso machines, with some grind finessing options in between. Because, when it comes to making that perfect cup, a quality grind reigns supreme. You can have the very best espresso machine but, with a poor grinder, your brew will ultimately suffer.

For me, grinding is the whole fun of at home coffee making. You get to take the whole bean and grind it down to size, ready for extraction in whatever method you deem necessary. It’s what makes you the coffee chef. Master of the ingredients. Queen of the bean.

And, for those last-minute gift purchasers like myself, if you order quickly, you’ll get it in time for Christmas.

Wilfa Svart Grinder: Available Online, priced from £89

Article First Published in The Menu Magazine on 11/12/21 in The Courier and Press & Journal

Shhhhh. It’s too early to mention the C word…..

I’m sure I won’t be the first to mention this, but please forgive me if I am: Christmas is coming. The coffee world, mindful that the festive season is a challenge with which higher levels of caffeination can greatly assist, is already gearing up for the festivities.

Seasonal blends have hit the shelves in full force this month. Darker roasts, more closely matching winter temperaments as they navigate pitch black mornings and fervent preparations for the “Big Day”.

Festive Mhor was the first seasonal blend out of the roastery for Mhor Coffee in its inaugural year. We were astonished by its popularity, particularly with super busy Mums who were knocking down our door last Christmas Eve, demanding we sell them all remaining bags.

One of my festive favourites is a visit to The Bean Shop in Perth. Their Christmas Blend changes every year but always delivers thanks to Lorna and John Bruce’s combined decades of exceptional coffee roasting knowledge.

Christmas is also to thank for kickstarting my coffee brewing experiments. Until I got my very first Aeropress, courtesy of Santa, I’d been a stalwart of the cafetiere. This strange, plunging contraption, unwrapped on Christmas morning, promised the unthinkable: a cup of coffee without tiny bits of coffee grind floating around in my cup. This was a genuine benefit indeed.

A relatively new brewing invention, the Aeropress has only been around since 2005 and I’ve had mine for at least a decade. It’s such a hit with coffee afficionados that many have their very own Aeropress travel kits. While I prefer to travel light, I do have an Aeropress setup in the office, as well as at home.

When it comes to my daily dose of coffee, it’s all about the taste, and the Aeropress guarantees that in spades. There’s two methods of brewing: traditional and inverted. The latter option is not for the faint hearted and generally prone to accidental spillage, but both methods offer a short period of steeping followed by a tiny degree of pressurised extraction. The result is a rich, strong black coffee, completely grain free and delightfully smooth.

While I do still regularly brew with a cafetiere (easier if it’s coffee for two), when it comes to solo coffee indulgence, the Aeropress is at the very top of my list. Quick to use, easy to clean, and delivers smooth delicious coffee each and every time. I love it.

Article First Published in The Menu Magazine on 14/11/21 in The Courier and Press & Journal

Meet the Roasters: Thirdwave Coffee

After graduating in Accounting and Finance and bagging himself a job with one of the largest independent accounting firms in Yorkshire, Ajay Phakey quickly became fed up with the bland, passionless high street chain coffee he drank on his way to work, and found himself in pursuit of the independent ‘thirdwave’ coffee scene.

Founded in 2016, Thirdwave Coffee Roasters focuses on sustainability, seasonality and quality. Combining a love of travel and exploration, Ajay’s global search to source, roast and supply the best coffees the world has to offer has seen him visit London, New Orleans, Iceland and South Africa and he doesn’t have any plans to end his search anytime soon.

His coffees are bursting with flavour and packed full of stories of the people who produce them and well worth a try for any coffee enthusiast.

Coffee is his passion and Ajay has worked incredibly hard to transform this passion into a successful business, and he wants to share this love of coffee with the world.

You can now buy Ajay’s coffees on the Mhor Coffee Marketplace. Go on, treat yourself!

An everyday cup of joe? It’s anything but.

The pandemic changed many habits. While others tackled fitness, mastered new languages or learned musical instruments, I threw myself into the world of coffee.

Let me start by saying that I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, a coffee expert, more an explorer of coffee. I’ve always loved discovering new food and drink tastes. Rumour has it I can remember everywhere I’ve been in the world by what I ate or drank there. True story.

My lockdown adventures in the caffeinated commodity has included tasting experiments, purchasing grinders, brewing adventures, starting a coffee company and opening an artisan coffee house. Admittedly, I might be taking the amateur interest a bit too far. As I’ve been absorbed into the intricacies of coffee’s addictive spell, I’m amazed at how much depth there is to a product that we take for granted. With your help, I’d like to change that, and share my coffee adventures with you, right here.

Artisan coffee, the kind where it’s roasted in small batches by small producers rather than in bulk quantities to be freeze dried and sold in supermarkets, saw a massive boost during the pandemic. Coffee’s coming of age has been a long time in the making, but now there are roasters in most major cities, with new roasteries opening every week.

So how should we start our coffee adventures? Well, you won’t go wrong with latest edition of The Scottish Independent Coffee Guide, out this month and packed with hidden gems that are roasting and serving artisan coffees right on your doorstep.

Take the Cairngorm Leaf & Bean roastery in Grantown on Spey, for instance. It’s a small roastery, part of the growing artisan army, whose Backyard Coffee Blend fair cheered up my Monday morning with its smooth sweetness and dark chocolate notes easing me gently into the day. And, because I love a bit of variety, I’ve also been tucking into Unorthodox Roasters’ Wee Stoater, a single origin coffee from Brazil, roasted to perfection in the Perthshire town of Kinross. This coffee has a lovely body, gentle flavours of chocolate, hazelnut and caramel, and has been my go-to mid-morning latte for the last few days.

Mixing up your morning brew is a good place to start. There’s a coffee out there for everyone and, as I’ve discovered, many more than one. With a whole world to explore, we’d better get the kettle on.

Article First Published in The Menu Magazine on 9/10/21 in The Courier and Press & Journal

Meet the Roasters: Blind Owl Coffee Co.

This small team has been roasting together since 2018, where they began on their 5kg roaster named Ozzy in an old stable block. Since then, they’ve moved to the historic district of St Philips Marsh in central Bristol, with Ozzy in tow to help them carve a small corner for themselves amongst some of the greats in artisan roasting. Their roastery shop has become a small hub enjoyed by coffee enthusiasts and newbies alike and is the ideal place for them to showcase some of the finest flavours from around the world.

Starting with responsibly sourced, top quality coffee beans, they hand roast in small quantities to ensure that every batch is roasted to the highest standard. Relying on their senses of sight, taste, and smell, they consider their method to be as much an art form as it is a science. 

Their team consists of passionate baristas, coffee enthusiasts and roasting nerds, as well as a slightly shy but quite arrogant cat. While they all share a passion for roasting and drinking great coffee (well, the cat is still a bit reluctant), they also share a belief that the sensory experience of a good coffee should be savoured and enjoyed, just like listening to your favourite music. Which is why they name their house blends after some of their favourite songs, helping to remind themselves of this belief and in the hope of sharing that moment with you too.

Share a moment with Blind Owl Coffee. Available to buy here.

Meet the Roasters: Two Dogs Coffee

Fed up with the poor quality, unvaried, unloved coffee being served in cafes and coffee shops, husband and wife duo, John and Sian, took matters into their own hands and started an online small batch coffee roasting business, focusing entirely on quality.

Fast forward four years and the Two Dogs Coffee roasting company (named appropriately after their two terriers Jack & Gelert) has grown significantly; however the focus on quality is still very much at the core of the business’ ethos.

The HQ roastery has been revamped and a mobile van has been converted and added into the mix.

Their two house blends, inspired by their terriers Jack and Gelert, are a favourite amongst all and it is clear to see that John and Sian are not only passionate about coffee but about their dogs too.

And in our opinion this is a fantastic combination.

Along with John and Sian, and all of us at Mhor, if you are passionate about good coffee and dogs then this artisan collection is perfect for you.  Even minus the dog love the coffee is tremendous, so don’t worry if you’re a cat kind of person, you will love it too!

Check their range of artisan coffees here.

The Capo in B: Serving Coffee the Trieste Way

It was well over 20 years ago I first sat down in the famous Caffe degli Specchi in Trieste and ordered myself a coffee to enjoy amid the majestic grandeur that inspired the writing of the likes of James Joyce and Kafka.

What started as a coffee simple order quickly became a personal learning journey in the world’s favourite caffeinated drink. It was clear from the get go that the home of coffee in Europe took coffee a wee bit more seriously than other cities. Home to the massive Italian coffee brand, Illy, Trieste was the main European post for coffee imports for decades, and has taken its influence from Greek, Italian, German and African cultures. So particular is this city about its coffee and how to drink it, that any subsequent visit to Starbucks will make you think that they just don’t offer the customer any choice at all.

Order a capuccino in Trieste, in any coffee house, and you’ll be surprised to receive your drink in an espresso cup, minus the traditional chocolate dusting that we’ve come to expect with our cappuccinos in the UK.

One of our absolute favourite serves (and it’s ALL in the milk, and perhaps a little bit to do with the glass) is the “Capo in B“. This one’s on the menu at Mhor Coffee House in Perth because it reminds us of sunny days in Piazza Unita, watching the world go by, and the glitz and glamour of the Caffe degli Specchi.

The Capo is short for cappuccino, the B is short for Bicchiere (which is Italian for drinking glass) and this extremely popular drink is served, as you might expect from its title, in a small glass, rather than a cup.

The serve is a single espresso with a milk froth on top. Crucially, it’s not to be mistaken for a Caffe Macchiato which has become more popular in the UK over the last few years. The Capo in B is a hybrid of the macchiato and a schiumato. Macchiato is served with a “dash” of steamed milk, whereas Schiumato is a dash of foamy milk. It’s a tiny, discernable difference but, if you’re serious about your coffee, it’s enough of a difference to alter the whole experience.

So popular is this serve that there are annual Capo in B Chamionships where baristas from around the region compete to demonsrate the perfect serve. So, the next time you’re in our Perth Coffee House, order yourself a Capo in B, sit back and enjoy your moment of Italian glamour.

Hario v60 Drip Decanter Coffee Maker

Could the Hario v60 be the best at home coffee maker?

Much like a fine dining experience, if you are looking to tickle your taste buds and really taste your coffee (and we mean really taste your coffee), then don’t look any further than the Hario v60.

The Hario v60 is easy to use, reliable, and inexpensive way to make pour-over coffee. It’s also one of the most popular and recognizable pour-over drippers on the market. Available in plastic, ceramic, glass, and metal variations, and with a few color options. We stock the v60 pour over kit in red, size 02 as well as a range of smaller (01 – perfect for a single cup) and other options but they all work the same, so select a size that fits your needs.

The dripper is a small inverted cone, with a base just wide enough to fit over the top of most mugs. A series of spiraling ribs inside the cone prevent the filter paper from clinging to the side, helping the water flow through the grounds to generate an even coffee flavour extraction.

The bottom of the cone dripper is open for your brewed coffee to drip freely into your mug or pitcher. The dripper has a handle on the side so you can pick it up without scalding any fingers and clean it when you’re finished. And it’s super easy to clean. Bonus.

However what we love about the v60 is that it’s all about great flavour. The v60 creates a clean and ‘bright’ coffee that demonstrates a full range of flavor notes. Trust us, even your favourite coffee will taste more interesting, lighter, more flavourful, once they’ve been given the v60 treatment.

How to use the Hario v60

The v60 allows you to control every variable of the brewing process with absolute precision if that’s what you are looking for. Many v60 geeks use kitchen scales, thermometers, and special kettles for really accurate measurements and to exert maximum control over each step.

But it doesn’t need to be that complicated, so here’s our five simple steps to making a coffee with the v60.

  1. Put a filter in the cone and rinse it with hot water.

2. Grind your coffee to a medium-fine grind and put it into the filter. Or, if you don’t have a grinder, out coffees are all available in coarse grind which would be suitable.

3. Place the dripper over your mug or pitcher.

4. Pour hot water (ideally 190-205 degrees Fahrenheit) over the grounds, but only just enough to get them wet. The recommended coffee-to-water ratio is one or two tablespoons per six ounces of water. However there’s no need to be this scientific – use your eyes, watch the levels of coffee coming through into the decanter and you’ll still get a great result.

5. Once the beans are soaked, wait about 30 seconds. This process is known as the “bloom.” Once the coffee has bloomed, gradually pour hot water over the grounds but be careful not to let the water overflow out of the dripper.

Where can you get one?

The Hario v60 is an affordable and essential piece coffee maker that is ideal if you are really wanting a great cup of coffee and fancy being a little more exploratory (or scientific!) with flavour.

We’ve got a range of Hario kits and accessories to choose from. If you’re just getting started, the v60 Pour Over Kit is recommended, although the Drip Decanter does look gorgeous on your kitchen table.

Happy brewing folks!