Born into a Yorkshire family, I grew up in the North East in the 70s where the hot beverage of choice was a cuppa, or at best an instant coffee.
My passion for good coffee started just five years ago when I discovered the 200 Degrees Coffee Shop in Leeds. I wondered why the coffee there was so much better than in the high street chains.
As a good lawyer, I did my research. In a former life I worked as a sommelier so have an interest in terroir. I found that good coffee is much like fine wine. The quality of the final drink is all about the beans, how and where they are grown, produced and cared for. To make a good drink, you need to start with good quality beans. I like to support local independent businesses and buy mine from either York Emporium, Poppleton or Roost, based in Malton.
Good coffee is often a blend of Arabica (smoother, less caffeine) and Robusta beans (stronger, more caffeine) although there is a growing interest in single-origin coffee – grown within a single geographic area. Taste is a personal preference, much like the choice of a blended whisky or a single malt.
How and when the beans are roasted is also important. Freshly roasted beans can be covered in glossy, coffee oil which helps to give the drink its depth of flavour and is full of antioxidants. Roasts can be pale through to dark, again a matter of preference.
The last vital ingredient is good water – which for me is never straight from the tap (too much chlorine)! I used to buy Evian but that proved expensive, so now I use filtered water.
To make a really good coffee, starting with good quality freshly roasted beans, there are six variables to control – grind size, ratio of water to coffee, strength, water temperature, agitation and the brew time. Without formal barista training, there can be a lot of trial and error so I invested in my own semi-professional machine which enables me to tweak the variables to produce my perfect speciality coffee – currently an almond cortado (a shot of espresso mixed with an equal part of warm, steamed almond milk) – at home.
I drink four double shots each day – two before I leave home in the morning, and one for the car – so my machine has already paid for itself. I have even invested in a second machine for the office so I’m never far from a good coffee.
What I love about coffee is the same thing I love about wine. The unique characteristics of the taste reflect so much about the geography, climate, history and culture of the region and people that produce it. Just as drinking wine where it is made is special, when we can travel once again I would like to plan a trip to a coffee-growing region – South America, Africa, Indonesia, or the Pacific Islands.
Drinking a good coffee is all about escaping to that world. Of course the caffeine helps me power through the day as well!
Please note this information is provided by way of example and may not be complete and is certainly not intended to constitute legal advice. You should take bespoke advice for your circumstances.