Few of us will have stumbled upon speciality coffee by accident. Usually a friend, colleague or family member has opened the door to a new world of flavour and been instrumental in popping our coffee cherry. We asked a few industry pros and seasoned Indy Coffee Box subscribers about their first time …
Lisa Lawson, founder of Dear Green roastery and the Glasgow Coffee Festival
‘My specialty coffee cherry was well and truly popped when I was the first employee of Tobys Estate Coffee in Sydney.
‘It was the millennium and the year of the Sydney Olympics; there was positive energy all around and I’d spend every day at this wonderful start-up roastery with the founder Toby Smith, roasting on his 5kg Probat in a walled garden. There was no turning back from that beginning.‘
Dave Stanton, founder of Crankhouse Coffee roastery
‘I had my “Yirgacheffe moment” while working as a barista in 2012. ‘We were generously given some samples by Andy Tucker of Clifton Coffee and I stuck one of the bags in the guest hopper. As soon as I turned on the grinder I knew this was something different. My first natural Ethiopian (it was actually a Guji Shakisso) and its sweet and boozy aromas of blueberries was a game-changer. Hooked.’
Eliot Dales, Indy Coffee Box subscriber
‘I first tasted “real” espresso at The Milk Bar in Soho. I’d never had anything quite like it before and that remains my benchmark for espresso. It wasn’t just the coffee: I loved the location, the simplicity of the venue and the effortlessly cool baristas. We’d sit on the bench outside people watching, just hoping that a celeb would pass by and then pretending to be blasé if anyone vaguely famous did. ‘What could possibly replicate that in deepest West Yorkshire? Enter the first volume of the Northern Indy Coffee Guide. Finding great coffee remains only part of the experience: it’s about the people you meet (Terrorvision Tone at Bloomfield Square), the treasures that you find along the way (Lindisfarne and Pilgrims Coffee), the memorable journeys (Single Track on Skye) and the inspirational use of space (Stanley and Ramona). I could go on.’
Will Little, founder of Roastworks Coffee roastery
It all started at Monmouth Coffee in Borough Market, London. ‘Shit got real when I discovered Penny University on Redchurch Street which was, and still is, the only Square Mile cafe. I remember Tim Williams (at least I think it was him) made me a filter-coffee flight – my mind was totally blown.’
Matt Lunn, Indy Coffee Box subscriber
‘I used to only really go to chain coffee shops until one day, intrigued by the Heisenberg painting near the window, I decided to try out the old Grindsmiths on Deansgate in Manchester. ‘I remember being so taken aback by the difference in the flavour of the coffee: it was sweet and fruity rather than bland. I also picked up a copy of Northern Indy Coffee Guide and then went out of my way to discover other independent coffee shops.’
Tash Murphy, Pharmacie Coffee Roasters
‘I’m fortunate to have learnt my trade 15 years ago at the first second-wave coffee roasters in Brighton: the original Redroaster.
‘Everyone who worked there was Aussie or Kiwi and standards were high, but not in ways we recognise today. I didn’t like coffee and Redroaster used to roast dark enough to not change my opinion. Baristas drank single espressos with half a brown sugar – something you can’t imagine now.
‘Then I went to the roastery and blind-cupped for the first time. It was like magic – six coffees from all over the world, unimaginable stories that coffee could tell. ‘And the Kenyan cup. Always the Kenyan cup. For lots of people a natural Ethiopia is that thunderclap moment, but the savoury complexity of a washed Kenya is inspiring, phantasmagorical and a true insight into the terroir and history of arabica cultivars.’
Want to introduce your friends and family to speciality coffee? Refer a friend to Indy Coffee Box and not only will they get £5 off their first order, you’ll also get £5 credited to your account. Find out more here.
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