Of all the non-alcoholic beverages I drink coffee isn’t really one of them, I may order a caffè latte (which maybe a bit lame to coffee connoisseurs), but in general I drink it very rarely. On Thursday afternoon I’d received a message on Twitter from North Star Micro Roasters, a Leeds based company who’s primary ethos is to produce coffee from ethically sourced Arabica beans.
They are based on Meanwood Road in close proximity to other Leeds Independents Leeds Bread Co-op and Ridgeside Brewery, and had very kindly invited me to their Inaugural Cupping event, I had no idea what a cupping event was, but I was really intrigued so drove down that evening. As soon as I walked in I saw sacks of their coffee beans stood next to their roaster called Roxanne – a 5KG Toper and a whole host of people from local businesses, friends and family.
Within the first five minutes I had spoken to two people involved in this new venture, born in April this year. Being pretty much a coffee virgin, with virtually zero knowledge about coffee I was quickly involved in a conversation about how each stage of the process was performed from picking the perfect coffee beans to roasting them to perfection, culminating in a coffee which possessed a consistency of flavour with each batch of beans. I had no idea it was so technical and being a science teacher by day, found it quite scientific.
They have a range of single origin coffees for pour over and two house espresso blends – Czar Street Seasonal Espresso and Dark Arches Espresso. Part of their work at the roastery will be dedicated to collaborating with businesses in order to create bespoke blends unique to their individual tastes.
What was also great to hear was their interest and commitment to the people who work on the land and do all the growing, picking and processing. North Star are working with Harrogate based Falcon Speciality Green Coffee Importers and both share the same ethos of sustainability, where fair prices are paid to farmers for coffee, the land is used in a way that respects the environment and the continuous improvement of coffee flavour profiles are all at the heart of their business. In turn this will hopefully build relationships that will last and prosper, allowing farmers to continually re-invest. All of North Star coffee is fully traceable, fully certified internationally or audited by Falcon trained social auditors, which ensures that the land where our coffee is grown and the people who grow it are treated with respect.
For the inaugural cupping we saw Roxanne, the 5kg Toper in its element roasting a batch for the evening and during this the profile of the beans was being monitored in terms of the beans temperature to ensure a consistent flavour profile for each batch.
Mike Riley from Falcon Speciality Green Importers, who’d previously work for Taylors of Harrogate for 25 years as Head of Coffee introduced the cupping event and showed an infectious passion for his craft, he spoke lyrically about each coffee that would be tasted, its origin and flavour notes. For the next hour or so people were invited to taste away, comparing coffee from different areas be it Nicaragua, Columbia, Ethiopia and Rwanda to name a few. Coffee was also being used on the La Marcocco Linea espresso machine by expert Barista Ellis Hall, this would also be available for training at the roastery as part of their service to customers.
There was a great buzz to the whole event and it showed that maybe I’m missing out here and should give coffee a try. One of the best things about the Leeds food and drink scene currently is the collaboration and support between independent ventures, on the night they had drafted in food from neighbour Leeds Bread Coop, pizza from Dough Boys and tamales from El Topo. Drinks were supplied by another neighbour Ridgeside Brewery.
It was a great evening showcasing coffees from another Leeds independent business. I think I left with a feeling that was evident from the start, that this team at North Star really show an innate passion for the humble coffee bean and this I’m sure can only be a wonderful thing. Leeds is certainly lucky to have them. I’d really like to visit them again in the near future and give coffee, which I hadn’t really given a chance before, a proper try. If it’s through a local, independent venture like this, which encourages me to enjoy this beverage then all the better for it!!!North Star Micro Roasters Unit 27 Penraevon Industrial Est. Jackson Road Meanwood Road Leeds LS7 2AP http://northstarroast.com http://leedsbread.coop http://www.el-topo.co.uk http://www.ridgesidebrewery.co.uk