#018: To All The Coffees I've Loved Before
A belated Happy New Year!
Never say I don’t deliver. I promised in my last newsletter that I would soon write another post related to coffee. Yes, I did also say that it would be before the end of 2021, but here we are. The consistency of writing Three-Quarters still isn’t quite there, but I am trying and I will continue to try. I have been writing some 2022 goals recently, as people do. They’re not resolutions, just goals. Many of them don’t involve me doing anything new, they just involve doing existing things a bit better, or with more consistency. Like writing the newsletter.
Maybe I’ll write about that sometime. But for now, coffee.
This newsletter has actually been a long time coming. Just over a year in the making in fact. A year ago I was staying at my parents’ house in Southampton, getting stuck into another COVID lockdown and settling back into working either from my little brother’s bedroom or the dining table. I was drinking a lot of coffee.
I decided to begin saving the bags. I’ve said on these pages before how much I respect good coffee packaging - not just carbon neutral packaging, but the ones with great designs. Packaging designs from Belfast’s Bailies Coffee, Cumbria’s Red Bank Coffee and Cardiff’s Hard Lines Coffee are some of my favourites for their packaging alone. The point is that some of them are so nice and cool to look at and have in your kitchen, that it’s hard to throw them straight in the bin when all of the coffee is gone.
So one day, in my parents’ kitchen last January, I didn’t throw the packaging away. I put it on top of one of their cupboards, and I kept doing that until there was a pile. In time the pile became structurally unsafe and they found a new home in a tote bag. This continued through to July 2021, when I moved back to London, and beyond. By Christmas, I had a tote bag full of all the coffees I had drunk through the year. The tote bag came full circle when I packed it in my case and took it back to my parents’ house over the holiday period where I had intended to take a picture and then write this very newsletter to send to you before New Year’s Eve. That didn’t happen and so the tote bag of bags joined me on the train back into London Waterloo and stayed on top of a cupboard in my kitchen until this weekend!
All The Coffees I’ve Loved Before (in 2021)
I know what you’re thinking: “that’s not actually that many for a WHOLE year” and you’re right. I thought the same, once I had taken out all of the duplicates. I had Perky Blenders’ Forest Blend and Origin’s Stronghold on repeat prescription for large parts of the year and so once I took those out, we’re down to the coffees as pictured. The coffees that carried me through the year. I’m certain I’ve lost a few bags along the way too. For example, my friend Emily definitely bought me a bag from Crediton Coffee Company at some stage, but I was apparently careless with the packaging. A few of the bags were also the delightful little tasters you get with a subscription to Standart magazine, a subscription to which I can wholly recommend for its design as much as its written content.
I’ve picked out three coffees from the bunch that I would like to hone in on:
My coffee of the year
Coffee - roasted for milk by Rosslyn Coffee
This is my coffee of the year for 2021 because it is the one coffee I can distinctly remember nodding to myself after taking the first sip. It’s a classic mellow taste, a blend of two Brazilian origins, with notes of milk chocolate and hazelnut making it perfect for use with milk. I brewed it in a cafetiere during February (according to my email receipt from Rosslyn). They also have a few coffee shops in London, which I’m yet to visit, but from the images on their website look as beautifully minimal as their packaging.
Honourable mention #1
Sao Silvestre by Bailies Coffee Roasters
This was my coffee of the year in 2020! It gets a mention for a second year running because it has remained a go-to order. It’s an absolute steal at £6.50. While Bailies suggest using this as espresso, I liked it just as much in a big cafetiere.
Honourable mention #2
Union Coffee’s Lockdown Brews
Back in March, lockdown rules were easing in the UK to the extent that the proletariat was permitted to meet with a friend in a park for coffee. Union teamed up with the branding agency Atomic to temporarily rebrand their most popular coffees in honour of London’s most loved parks. Parks including London Fields, Paddington Rec, Hampstead Heath and Brockwell Park were matched with coffees in their range and given the full branding treatment, complete with a social media campaign. I went for my favourite, Victoria Park, also known as the People’s Park in recognition of its status as the first purpose-built park in the UK. The park opened for use in 1843 and was built in direct response to the huge population growth in East London and the subsequent overcrowding and poor health within its population. The park has had many accolades and in 2021, it briefly had its own coffee. You can’t buy these anymore, but the Victoria Park bag was based on their house blend.
In an unrelated development, I now live very close to Victoria Park, not because of the coffee though.
That’s all for Three-Quarters this week. As ever, I hope it wasn’t a complete waste of your time. It felt nicely familiar to be writing here about coffee again. Who knows what next week bring. Have a good one and tell your friends!