Tag Archives: Opposite

Coffee Cupping @ La Bottega Milanese, Leeds

La Bottega Milanese had their first coffee cupping event a little while ago at their recently opened coffee shop on Bond Court. If you’ve not been to La Bottega’s newest coffee shop, you really must as Alex Galantino has done such a beautiful job on getting the place fitted out, it looks fantastic!

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The original plan was for roastery The Grumpy Mule to showcase their coffee, but sadly they were unable to attend. As always, the show must go on, so fortunately a number of fantastic baristas from well-known coffee shops around Leeds and it’s surrounding areas were on hand to help out with their coffee expertise instead. Another typical example of how Leeds’ coffee community works together so well, with the likes of Adam (Opposite), Matt (Mrs Athas) and Oakley (Crema Espresso) bringing a selection of coffees along for the event.

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There seemed to be a varying amount of cupping experience amongst us, so Alex was more than happy to ease us into the procedure. I really liked this because it showed us that whatever experience and knowledge we had with coffee, it was an event that could cater for everyone, regardless of any limitations we may have.

Alex briefly explained how the aim of a cupping session was to compare and contrast coffees against each other. Six different coffees with slightly different flavour profiles, produced by a range of well-known roasters using beans from a variety of countries would be showcased. He drew our attention to taking tasting notes, possibly drawing out a wheel of flavour to compare each coffee. The most popular coffee would then be used to produce coffee to drink using an  Aeropress.

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Here’s a brief run through of the cupping procedure:

1. Smell the ground coffee – is there are difference between ground and not ground? Some coffees had been processed in different methods, e.g. processed/washed would give differences in how clean their flavours were.

I even surprised myself when I got a noseful of the Hasbean coffee, which had a huge whack of strawberry that instantly filled my nostrils. Earlier that morning I’d had a bowl of strawberries for breakfast and it reminded me of that immediately. 

2. Each coffee was brewed for 4 minutes by added hot water of a specific temperature (not boiling) onto the coffee grounds, allowing an even extraction and the formation of a crust. 

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3. The surface of the crust was broken by using a spoon to push the grounds down with three swift movements. The aromas released would give an indication of what was to come during tasting.  Quickly the cups had the ground coffee removed before the slurping process could begin.

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4. People started to work their way through each coffee, slurping away, getting the coffee to coat the tongue to taste, comparing them at different temperatures. 

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A quick analysis of opinions was garnered to see what people thought. 

There was a general consensus that the Grumpy Mule tasted the most ‘ordinary’ – with a more bitter taste, it tasted like a more traditional, standard coffee. This was unlike the others as they had been roasted much lighter to develop flavour profiles.

The San Agustin roasted by Square Mile seemed to be a popular choice – an easy drinking coffee and not too bitter. As it started to cool its taste began to resemble tea. The Yirgacheffe, (Square Mile) was found to be very floral, with bergamot notes. We were told that fully washed coffees produce lovely bright fruit flavours. 

The Nicaraguan Hasbean coffee was also a popular choice, it certainly stood out as the flavours produced were very intense with fruit. Matt explained that these beans were massive, due to being grown slowly at high altitude. After undergoing a natural process, rather than being washed like others, fermentation allows levels of texture and flavour to intensify, resulting in really jammy coffee full of strawberry.

During each cupping session there is always so much to take in and learn and I always feel completely out of my depth, but at the same time feel I am very slowly learning more a bit at a time. I would highly recommend going to a cupping event if you’ve not been to one before!!

Their next cupping session is this Sunday, when La Bottega will be hosting The Coffee Officina  roasters from Essex.

Hopefully I’ll see you there!!

La Bottega Milanese
2 Bond Court
Leeds
LS1 2JZ
0113 2454242
http://www.labottegamilanese.co.uk

Press Coffeehouse Inaugural Coffee Cupping @ Cup & Saucer, Leeds

Newly established Press Coffeehouse hosted their first official public engagement at Chapel Allerton’s Cup & Saucer last week. Tickets had been snapped up in a few hours, luckily I managed to nab myself one and eagerly awaited my second ever coffee cupping!! This time I had an idea what was going to happen, unlike the first time when I was a complete novice.

Prior to the event I’d met up with Press Coffeehouse‘s Paul Henry and came away knowing the purpose of the event was to help them choose coffee for their subscription service. What a great idea! With nine different coffees from Madcap based in Grand Rapids, Michigan and Five Elephant coffee from Berlin, it would be an evening of sniffing, slurping and comparing with help and expertise from green coffee exporters Falcon Speciality Coffee for the evening.

I really like seeing the diverse range of people’s experience who come to these events; ranging from hardened coffee drinkers with a decent knowledge to someone like me, who is very much on a steep learning curve and still finding out the basics.

Paul introduced the event in good company with the likes of Holly and Matt from Falcon, Louisa Henry, owner of Opposite, Cup & Saucer and Opposite’s baristas Adam and Alex, North Star‘s Krag and Ellis, as well as a number of coffee lovers wanting to learn more. He spoke about both coffee roasteries and mentioned how he’d discovered Five Elephant by accident, and he’d been interested in American coffees for a while, so wanted to bring them into the equation and gather opinions to form a consensus in terms of likes and dislikes.

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What I’ve learned so far in my very short education in coffee cupping is there are a number of stages before tasting the products. The beans were prepared by Falcon’s Holly, who measured out each coffee accurately on Paul’s new toy; an Acaia coffee scale. From the two roasteries the beans supplied came from Peru, Brazil, Columbia, Kenya, Ethiopia and Burundi, once measured out were then distributed into glasses and placed around the table with increasing strength of flavour.

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The next step was to grind the beans, then get stuck in and have a good whiff. The advice we were given on the best technique to use was to agitate the coffee with a gentle tap on the side, then a couple of swift sniffs to get the aroma released from the coffee.

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This certainly showed an immediate difference between the coffee types. From the delicate citrus from Madcap’s Raul Mamani, the floral citrus notes of Madcap’s San Sebastian to the more savoury Brazilian Obata from Five Elephant.

Ok, the next stage in the cupping was to add nearly boiling water to the ground beans and leave them for a few minutes so a crust formed, it was a precise number of minutes but for the life of me I cannot remember how much it was!

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Once a crust is formed the process of breaking the crust is an important one to give an idea of what’s to come from tasting the coffee. The grind will begin to sink to the bottom and then slurping can commence!!! This was the bit I wasn’t particularly wanting to get involved with just because I still find it a little daunting and even intimidating.

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So I watched from the sidelines as the rest of the guests really got their noses stuck in and slurped in what seemed at times like a cacophony of sound!

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Once all the coffees had been tasted Paul noted down people’s opinions – their likes/dislikes, favourites and reasons for their choices.

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To be honest the whole coffee cupping thing still scares me a little as I’m still a scaredy cat at these types of events, especially with most people being very much in the know. But at the same time I know if I take part I’ll learn a lot more too, so the next cupping session, and there WILL be a next time I will endeavour to be more determined and join in with the tasting and slurp away with the rest of them!! No more of me being feeble and chickening out!

With my exploration into the coffee world developing with time, the arrival of Press Coffeehouse has been timely and a great way for me to talk to others more about coffee and its complexities. 

Press Coffeehouse are also supporting Measure Coffee Culture festival at the Royal Armouries in September where there will be a whole host of great things to see and get involved in, such as; coffee (of course) brewing equipment, street food, barista and latte art competitions.

If you love artisan coffee and produce, want to know more about brewing techniques, watch some cool latte art being done you can get your tickets for the festival now!

Opposite – The North’s Coffee Community, pt III

I’ve learned lots about the coffee community in The North so far, but only a tiny smidgen in terms of everyone else in the know. Still being a complete novice I’m really enjoying learning along the way.

My third instalment is about Opposite Cafe, as the likes of Alex (La Bottega Milanese) and Dave (Laynes Espresso) amongst others have said it was one of Leeds’ original coffee shop indies. Louisa Henry, Opposite’s founder seems to be woven into the fabric of the coffee scene here.

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Louisa Henry came to study furniture design at Leeds Met, but was the first to admit wasn’t the ideal student and didn’t complete her degree. Struggling to pay the rent, her landlord got her a job in student rentals, where having the arduous job of renting out 120 properties in 3 months forced her to learn quickly. Her mind was set on opening a shop in the space at Leeds University, and only after a very long time, when she nearly gave up on the whole idea did her landlord finally agree to rent the space to her. 

In 2005 the first branch of Opposite opened at Leeds University, opposite the Parkinson Building. Having only done bar work and no experience in coffee she’d taken a big leap of faith in herself, but her dad gave her one piece of good advice, to ‘concentrate on one thing, do it really well and keep it simple’. During the early days Louisa’s interest in coffee skyrocketed and after just six months of opening, she was 2nd in the UK Barista Championships, admitting that the strength of the competition was a lot smaller in those days! With a few other passionate baristas, like Ben Townsend from The Espresso Room and James Hoffman from Square Mile, they were part of a UK Barista team taking part in European Team challenges, here her knowledge in speciality coffees really developed.

Even with the success of Opposite at the University, she realised she didn’t want a coffee chain clone so decided to open a speciality coffee shop in Leeds. Fortunately against tough competition she opened at the small kiosk site in the Victoria Quarter and here she struck up a friendship with Dave (Laynes) and Paul (Coffee Community), working with them. Her barista’s such as Adam Lodge were becoming well known and Opposite was named in the Guardian’s Ten of the Best UK coffee shops article.

The VQ site was a great way of getting known by the rest of Leeds, but being limited in size Louisa wanted somewhere she could have the best of both worlds – serving speciality coffees with good food and space to sit. 18 months later a friend saw an empty site in Chapel Allerton’s Stainbeck Lane, the heart of the suburbs eating and drinking scene, opening Cup & Saucer in 2013.

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Part of Louise’s ethos is to know the exact origin of coffee and have trust in the quality of processing they undergo making a perfect cup. At both sites they showcase their house espresso from Square Mile also Has Bean for filtered coffee and their guest coffees include some from Roundhill and Leeds based North Star.

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As well as the quality of the coffee they serve, food has been a big part of the business too, the majority of it being made in their own catering company. Also served are baked goods from local producers That Old Chestnut with their vegan delights.

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Over the last decade it sounds like Louise Henry’s life has been a hectic one, and I’m sure it won’t stop her driving her business forward. Paramount to that is to serve quality, ethically sourced coffee and promoting The North’s coffee community, which she and her team at Opposite have been integral to.

Opposite branches:
  • 26 Blenheim Terrace (Opposite Leeds University)
  • Victoria Quarter, Leeds City Centre
  • 4 Stainbeck Lane, Chapel Allerton
www.oppositecafe.co.uk