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Hipsters, coffee and authenticity
Monday, March 24, 2014 - 07:53 PM - 4 months, 1 week ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - WBC 2007 World Champion James Hoffmann's jimseven
Hipsters, coffee and authenticity
I don’t really like the word hipster, nor do I condone its usage (despite occasional indulgence), but I did spend some time recently trying to work out what it meant and what we mean when we use it. It isn’t really a cultural label the way “goth” or “mod” were and are. I think the word has ended up being many things to many people, but I think when you use it there is, at its root, one key idea: you are saying “I don’t believe you.” It is the label given to those who posture, whose cultural, sartorial or intellectual pretence is painful to see. This is why no one self identifies this way – we are believe we’re telling the truth, or at least getting away with looking like we do. Hipster gets thrown at coffee a great deal too. Half the time to describe the people behind the counter, half the time to describe those patiently queuing to buy it. The aloof barista, with a carefully cultivated sense of ennui and the vaguely disguised disgust at the coarseness and ignorance of customers, is perhaps the arch trope of coffee today. When we see such theatricality, perhaps we assume that every aspect is a performance. Caring about coffee, being interested in it and deeply involved in it, all of this must be part of the act. How can we, as a customer, tell which part is genuine and which some sort of pretence. I read a piece on coffee consumption that brought me back to this Frank Bruni piece from a few years ago in the New York Times. This particular sentence was highlighted (emphasis mine): “In these food-mad times, have the economically privileged among us gone too far in turning simple acts of nourishment into complicated rituals of self-congratulation?” Have we offered up coffee as a way to define who we are as customers? Is this something modern or is this simply the next step after coffee’s position as the epitome of the Fair Trade movement, the next step in the evolution of our relationship with a product thats complexity is slowly starting to seep into the public sphere. While I don’t really see coffee in London, or the UK, being regularly used by consumer’s to really define themselves (outside of those for whom coffee is a passion) – I do see a great deal of inauthenticity within the industry. Part of this, I think, is a byproduct of the homogeneity that can develop in a market or a result of tapping into the hive mind of the coffee industry online. London is home to what others have described as the “chain with no name”, independent cafes that look and feel very similar to each, offer very similar products at similar prices, with similar service experiences, but have no shared ownership. In a situation like this, it seems pretty obvious to anyone that each of these business is unlikely to be the honest expression of an individual, and can end up looking like bandwagon-jumping or an attempt to profiteer from a trend someone doesn’t truly understand. I understand that conformity offers safety, and I see that the industry doesn’t often encourage the kind of risk taking we want to see. This part, however, may in part be because we’ve struggled to work out how the risk/reward model could really offer something compelling. Authenticity comes from honesty, from transparency. Cafes are great canvases, for the expression of ideas about service, about taste, about design, about community, and about coffee itself. All too rarely are they any, let alone all, of these things. When they are clearly the result of someone’s considered, and personal, vision I think they’re compelling, and I believe consumers can tell and respond strongly to it. My limited experience within my own market supports this. The cafes around London, past and present, that I have formed the strongest bonds with all have a genuine identity, from their owners and founders, that I find strongly appealing. I deeply hope to see more of this in the future, because I believe it will make talking to people about why coffee is worth their attention, their money and their time so much easier.

El Mirador
Monday, March 24, 2014 - 02:17 PM - 4 months, 1 week ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - James and Anette's Square Mile Weblog
El Mirador
The Colombian season is now properly underway, and the first filter on offer is the delicious El Mirador from the Huila region produced by Octavio Rueda Ramirez. It has a distinctive peach tea like quality, with ripe pineapple and lychee notes, a delicate grape acidity and creamy mouthfeel making this a very balanced coffee. Octavio runs the 10 hectare farm with his wife Norfalit Burbano and their six children. This blend of Caturra, Castillo and San Bernardo is dry fermented for 24 hours before being washed and dried. Available here.

Bella Vista
Wednesday, March 19, 2014 - 11:02 AM - 4 months, 1 week ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - James and Anette's Square Mile Weblog
Bella Vista
The first of the Colombians is now available in the webshop, if you like sweet blackcurrant jam on toast then this is the espresso for you! Coming from the Huila region this fully washed coffee also has a rich creamy mouthfeel, green apple freshness and a little jasmine in the finish. The farm is owned and run by Arnoldo Hernandez Ceron and his wife Marleny Salamanca, and with the help of their 3 children they farm 3.5 hectares of the 4 hectare farm, with Caturra, Castillo and Colombia F6 varietals being grown. We feel this is a stunning example of a coffee from the Huila region and hope you will enjoy it too, grab a bag here.

Saquarema
Monday, March 10, 2014 - 03:27 PM - 4 months, 3 weeks ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - James and Anette's Square Mile Weblog
Saquarema
We have a tasty new naturally processed Brazil from the Minas Gerais region in the webshop and it is tasting great. Expect lots of brown sugar sweetness, a large syrupy caramel body and a few vanilla notes. This is balanced out nicely with some cranberries and a little cardamom to finish. The farm is located in the south of Minas Gerais close to the city of Carmo do Cachoeira, is owned by Louis Eduardo and is one of the oldest farms in the region. Saquarema has been in Louis’s family for four generations, covers 389 hectares with 128 of them designated to organic coffee production. This is a great example of a coffee for the region and we hope to continue getting delicious coffee like this in the future. Try some for yourself here!

23rd February 2014
Sunday, February 23, 2014 - 07:40 PM - 5 months ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - Welsh Champion 2009 Trevor Hyam's The Bean Vagrant
23rd February 2014
The recent view from above the espresso hopper; A sea of Brazil Daterra Special Reserve Organic, Santa Maria natural, and Suke Quto washed Guji. Recent seasonal changes saw this departure from the more usual washed-only nature of the components of the Naturelle blend. Gloria …returns! Suke Quto individually, at home, as a delicious, (even lighter) filter profile. Probably my favourite filter at home since… the last Ethiopian coffee: Worka Woreda OCR washed Yirgacheffe. (Possibly) the most geeky/obsessive thing in my extensive coffee cupboard? An ever-expanding box of grind samples. Samples of different coffees from different (craft) roasters through various grinders at various settings, to compare and assess grind profiles/distributions, shapes, and sizes, across different types of coffees, roast levels/styles, and brew methods. Press of a Brazil: Start. Final seconds before break.

A short post on a good week
Friday, February 21, 2014 - 08:56 AM - 5 months, 1 week ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - Colin's Dublin Barista Blog
A short post on a good week
Last week this post appeared on Lovin Dublin which aside from being a really nice surprise was a great shot in the arm for all the staff at 3fe. We’ve been pushing each other really hard for the last 3 months or so and to come out on top of such a prestigious list was a […]

The Coffee formally known as Fazenda Ambiental Fortaleza
Friday, February 14, 2014 - 02:31 PM - 5 months, 2 weeks ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - James and Anette's Square Mile Weblog
We always try our hardest to make sure we represent the coffee we buy as best we can and always endeavour to make sure that the farmer or producers are credited for their hard work. However it has come to our attention that the coffee we have been selling as Ambiental Fortaleza is actually from Sitio Laranjal, it is owned and run by Alfredo Mengalis. The rest of the details of the coffee remain the same, it’s from the same area, grown at the same altitude and is actually dried and processed at Ambiental Fortaleza. FAF do a lot of work with their neighbour farms and many many farmers use the processing facilities at FAF, so we didn’t get it too far wrong but we wanted to make sure that the write praise went to the right person!

Learning Project: An update and the next topic
Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - 01:14 PM - 5 months, 2 weeks ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - WBC 2007 World Champion James Hoffmann's jimseven
Learning Project: An update and the next topic
Today I closed submissions to the January topic and I’ve updated the blog post to show a full list of further reading links you lovely people submitted. Some people’s submitted links didn’t work, and I haven’t had the time to work out what they meant to submit. The voters have also chosen the next topic. In the next couple of weeks I will write and post: An introduction to coffee roasting This is going to be tricky, and I know that when I call for links to further reading that there isn’t a lot of stuff online. However, there is more than you think… I just want to make clear that what I will write will be designed as an introduction. It won’t be too superficial (I hope) but I will be leaving out some of the fuzzy stuff that is full of half baked opinions, pseudo science and conjecture. It’s actually quite an intimidating topic to write an introduction for… There’s some great reading to be had back in the acidity post – so I hope people enjoy getting stuck in!

An admission of failure
Wednesday, February 05, 2014 - 04:03 PM - 5 months, 3 weeks ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - WBC 2007 World Champion James Hoffmann's jimseven
An admission of failure
Maybe I set the bar too high in my own mind, maybe I wasn’t sufficiently clear and maybe (the most likely explanation) it just wasn’t that good of an idea to start with. The idea behind the collaborative learning project was that if you gave a little you got something more in return. The first post on acidity has had 10k+ views, excluding the several thousand who subscribe to the RSS feed. I had hoped that even 1 in 100 page views might yield a submitted link, but for all the views and the thousand of people who read the post I’ve received (to date) 29 viable links on the subject of acidity. (Less than 1 per 400 views) Let me be clear: I’m not really blaming anyone else but me for this, and I’m not really moaning about it either. This isn’t an “oh poor me!” blog post, I promise you. My predictions of how this would go were based more on my own hopes, rather than evidence or historical precedents. I’m not yet sure if I am going to continue with the project, or certainly continue it in its current form. I will definitely update the existing blog post with the links submitted on acidity so far, but as for starting a new topic – I don’t think so. Failure is fine, it should be accepted, and sometimes it is ok to let things go and to move on to other projects. There are a few other ideas in the pipeline, so hopefully they’ll come to fruition soon!

Win stuff
Saturday, January 25, 2014 - 03:39 PM - 6 months ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - Steve Leighton's HasBean Weblog
A promo for our blog/customers – Steve is in El Salvador floating between different wifi connections but the goal is to post the below some point on sunday along with our weekly video blog where Steve will also mention the post cats, coffee and prizes some of you may have noticed last weekend a few […]

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