Good coffee used to be a rare luxury, in our family, our B&B and our Self-Catering we consider it an essential.
As soon as we made our own home we decided that ‘proper coffee’ was going to be what we drank ourselves and offered to our friends. We think that this sort of coffee is by far the best choice ethically and in terms of taste.
All those years ago (in the late 70s), we could buy freshly ground coffee from Cottle’s Coffee Roasters in Reading, our home town before we moved to Wales.
Instant coffee can sometimes be a life-saver, and it was all we ever knew as children. However, the nature of the process means that many of the delicious volatile flavours are lost.
So, coffee made from freshly ground beans has a noticeably fuller, more distinctive and much more enjoyable taste. A little brown paper bag with 4 ounces of coffee from Cottle’s, freshly ground to order, would last us a week.
Whole Bean Coffee
It wasn’t long before we wondered whether we might grind our own. We bought a Spong coffee grinder and obtained whole beans from Cottle’s instead. This way we had the freshest ground coffee every day. Coffee beans last well in a tin, but we find that keeping them in the freezer is even better, especially when you have a large amount.
For some years we were able to buy Blue Mountain – reputed to be the best in the world – in bean form, and it became a tradition to have this for Christmas day breakfast. Latterly, the supply has dried up completely and we can only buy ground Blue Mountain, which is not as good.
Our regular supplies now come from the Suma Cooperative, which promotes fairly traded beans from a variety of growing areas. Our favourites are from Peru and Ethiopia. This way we can ensure the best taste and ethical provenance.
Home Roasted Coffee
Many years ago, when Ivor was a teenager, an Iranian visitor came to his family home with a gift of green bean coffee. You may be surprised to know, if you haven’t seen them, that coffee beans, once they are extracted from the berries, are very hard, pale-green and smelling only very faintly of grass – nothing like coffee at all.
Ivor and his brothers experimented by cooking them in a dry pan over the gas, stirring all the while with a wooden spoon. In this haphazard fashion they managed to roast the beans until the characteristic scent began to emerge.
Ground, then made in a percolator, Ivor and his brothers still speak of this as the best coffee experience of their lives.
On coming to Wales we discovered that green beans are sold by Van’s Good Food shop in Llandrindod Wells. And, since then, we always keep as small supply to roast for a special treat, as the ultimate (for now) in fresh coffee.
The idea, when roasting, is that the coffee beans should receive equal heat across all their surfaces, and you can buy expensive rotary roasting machines for this purpose. We achieve this more simply and cheaply with two oven-proof glass plates and our AGA.
This is what to do:—
- Cover one glass plate with a single layer of green beans.
- Put them on the middle shelf of the hottest AGA oven (gas mark 7-8).
- Time for five minues, when you take them out you will see that the outer edges are slightly more cooked, so stir them around a bit.
- Repeat this process of cooking and stirring about three times more, and you will hear the beans pop. This is the sound of their pores opening and the oils escaping – just as we like it.
- To arrest the process here, turn the beans immediately onto your other glass plate.
- This rapid cooling closes the pores again, sealing the delicious volatiles inside.
- A little more cooking than this will give you a ‘high’ Italian style roast, but too little results in an impossibly hard bean and an underdeveloped flavour.
- Please take care to remember that the plates will be extremely hot, during and for some time after the cooking process.
Coffee at Tyrannell Hospitality
We serve a selection of coffees for breakfast at Tyrannell, freshly ground minutes before it is brewed. When you sit at our table, you will know that your cup of coffee is the freshest and most ethical available anywhere.
Recently we have devised a way to share this experience with our self-catering guests. We now supply whole coffee beans for you to prepare in an electric coffee grinder, with a cafetiere in which to brew it. You will find your complimentary packet of beans in the freezer on arrival.