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Northern Ireland Aeropress Championship


June 1st 2016, see’s the return of Northern Ireland AeroPress Championship! This years the event is in the Black Box, in Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter. It’s a really special year for coffee enthusiasts in Ireland, as the World AeroPress Championship is being held in Dublin later in June as part of the global event World of Coffee. Thousands of coffee professionals and enthusiasts will descend upon Dublin to compete in various competitions and to take part in many different coffee related events. It will be caffeine induced mayhem!

But how about that poster eh for the Northern Ireland Aeropress Championship ? Great work from local lads Glenn Kennedy & Tim Farrell.

As always, the Northern Ireland Aeropress Championship is free entry for spectators. Alongside the competition, there will be beer from Boundary Brewing, the Belfast debut of the Picture Bus as well as great music & we’ll be sure to squeeze some coffee in there somewhere! Competitors, bring your fan clubs…fan clubs, bring the noise!

To register for spectator tickets & get more info go here.

Last years Northern Ireland Aeropress Championship winner was Ballymena’s very own Jonathan Hickinson from Middletown Coffee Co. The winner goes forward to compete for Northern Ireland at the World Aeropress Championship. A few of the Middletown staff will compete this year along with lots of other coffee professionals and enthusiasts from around Northern Irelands growing coffee scene.

This years event promises to be great fun. Check out their updates here to keep up with latest info about the event.

Ecuador Las Tolas

Bailies Coffee Belfast

The Coffee

In the heart of the Chocó Andin, one of the planet’s 7 biodiversity hotspots, the Las Tolas estate is the result of a project built with passion and a desire for excellence. Located in the Andean foothills at 1700m altitude, the estate has been managed by Arnaud Causse since 2004. Arnaud has planted coffee plants outside traditional growing zones, where the terroir enjoys a unique environment. Under the shade of wild service trees, banana trees and mango trees, the cherries ripen slowly in optimal conditions to enhance the aromatic potential after roasting.


Every year, at harvest time, the locals living near the plantation carefully select and collect the best cherries. The cherries are then placed in water baths to extract any unripe coffee beans. After this first stage, the parchments submerged in water for fermentation, after which they are dried naturally under the sun. This stage also allows the beans to preserve their aromatic quality.


Estate: Las Tolas
Varietal(s): Caturra, pacas
Processing: Washed
Altitude: 1700 masl
Owner: Arnaud Causse

You can buy this coffee from Bailies here

What we thought

Last week we had summer. It’s probably all gone now. One week in May! We didn’t even have time to eat lots of ice-cream…. vanilla, huge scoops of vanilla ice-cream. This coffee had sweet vanilla bouncing out of the bag like an ice-cream in the face. Sweet sweet lovely summer smell.

Today we took the coffee along to Middletown Coffee Co to add it into their Friday cupping table. Every Friday at 12.15 they set out a selection of coffees for a public cupping and, we’ve occasionally dropped in another coffee that we’ve been enjoying, just for fun.

Las Tolas really leapt out among some other very fine coffees today. The dark fruity flavours punched through and made a few of us say “ooooh” and “aahhhhhh” and “fruiiiiity.” That balance between fruity-ness and nuttiness is a treat. We had already made a few brews in the Chemex at home and were tasting lots of hazlenuts at first but a more balanced flavour as it cooled down.

This was a really delicious tasting coffee and, I think maybe the first coffee we have ever had from Ecuador. I think.

Go get some!

Tanzania Tarime AA

Bailies Coffee Belfast

The Coffee

Location: Set up in 2006, the Tarime CPU is located in the north of Tanzania in the Mara district. We source from cooperatives and producers with whom we will continue to work year on year. In this way we will guarantee the quality of coffee washing, traceability and long term relationships with Tanzania washing stations (known as Central Processing Units ‐ CPU). We bypass the Tanzania Coffee Exchange: the CPUs obtain a better price for their coffee in return for their efforts in terms of quality, traceability and a long term partnership.

Fully washed:  After harvesting, the ripe cherries are brought to the CPU by the farmers, before removing the pulp by the wet process. After pulping, the coffee is fermented overnight, then washed, cleaned and graded. After washing, the parchments are dried on African beds. Drying takes between 7 and 20 days depending on climatic conditions. The most commonly grown varietal is the traditional N39.

Country: Tanzania
Mill: Tarime CPU
Coffee Varieties: N39
Processing Type: Fully Washed

You can buy from Bailies Coffee here.

What we thought

Floral like a spring garden in bloom. There’s a picnic and a pot of jam, it’s dark. Blackcurrants. Sweet.

Sometimes when we cup a coffee or brew up something that’s new, we just say words loudly and make mmmm and ahhh noises. Sometimes I picture a scene or a place. That’s what flavours and smells do right? They transport us to somewhere else.

I love the dark fruit and blackcurrant flavours in this coffee. Sometimes the dark fruit notes can be a bit too overbearing in coffee but, if you nail the brew accurately here, you should enjoy a lovely sweet jammy flavour across your tongue. We thought; figs as the coffee began to cool down… sweet figs. I usually put some berries into my porridge for breakfast and then add some honey, this coffee is as close to that flavour combination as I’ve had. The acidity of the berries is noticeable but it’s caressed by the smooth porridge and the sweet honey… wait, I’m talking about porridge when I should be talking about coffee!

You get the idea though.

Go buy some before it sells out – here.



Nicaragua El Bosque

Nicaragua El Bosque

The Coffee

The municipality of San Fernando is located around 24 kilometres from the region’s capital ‘Ocotal’ and of the 10,000 residents, the vast majority are coffee farmers. This beautiful area is home to the stunning and aptly named ‘Finca El Bosque’ (which translates to ‘the forest’) and has been owned by Julio Peralta since 1991. The farm lies on the mountainous slopes in the Nuevo Segovia region on the border of Honduras, providing spectacular views of the surrounding forests and mountains of Jicaro and San Fernando. Ripe cherries are handpicked and sorted between December and March. There is a wet mill on the farm where the ripe red cherry is deposited and weighed from each picker. The cherries then enter floatation tanks where ripes and unripes are separated by density. The selected cherries are then pulped in a Penagos eco-pulper to remove the skin from each fruit, the water is recycled and reused in this process before entering oxidation ponds to remove bi-products. The sticky pulped beans then enter fermentation tanks for between 14 and 18 hours before being washed in channels. The washed beans are then taken to the drying patios at the nearby mill of San Ignacio where they are regularly turned by rake to ensure good, even drying. The overall drying process will take around 10 to 12 days.

Country: Nicaragua
Mill: Finca El Bosque
Owners: Julio Peralta
Harvest Months: December-February
Coffee Varieties: Catuai, Caturra
Processing Type: Dry Fermented then Washed

You can buy this from Bailies Coffee here

What we thought

We’ve enjoyed some amazing coffees from Nicaragua over the years and often they are noted as having complex flavours. The other day Ellis B asked something on twitter that got us thinking about this coffee and the tasting notes…

That Ellis lad is a messer. If you click the tweet you can see the conversation unfold with some good thoughts. As I considered this coffee and then pondered his question I concluded that the following taste description from Bailies would leave me undecided about this coffee.

In the cup taste hazelnuts and dates, with a cocoa powder after-taste. This Nicaraguan natural is full bodied with a pleasant medium acidity, and an aroma of pecans.

Nicaragua El Bosque

It’s the nutty thing. Sometimes it catches me by surprise and I love it but I probably wouldn’t choose a coffee that had nutty aroma and nutty tastes described so much. I like the fruity coffees, bright, juicy…

But, one of the great things about a subscription is that you get the variety and are forced – in a sense – into trying flavours that you may not gravitate toward.

This was one of those occasions when I enjoyed the coffee a lot after not being sure when I’d read the description. It tasted great cupped and brewed via Chemex and Aeropress. The dark date flavours were really clear in the cup and the nuttiness wasn’t overpowering. Really clean lines between smell, taste, mouthfeel and after-taste made this a superb coffee.

A good reminder not to only select coffee because of the taste descriptions but, to mix things up a bit.

That said, to be able to search for coffee on a website via flavour descriptions would be a useful tool too we think.

Thanks again Bailies.

ps: Check out this great post by Irish Elite Triathlete, Charles Maltha on their blog

Get yourself a great coffee subscription


One thing you need to make priority either before or during the Christmas holidays is, how are you getting coffee supplied to you in 2016! Do you,  or can you buy locally from a shop that always stocks fresh coffee from a great roaster? If so, maybe that completely covers all your coffee needs. We think it’s always good to have one or maybe two subscriptions on the go just to keep it interesting.





Bailies Coffee, Belfast – If you are in Northern Ireland why not keep it local and support a local roaster who have been consistently ‘upping their game’ over the past two years. The latest coffee we received as part of their subscription was a beautiful, full flavoured Kenyan Washed Coffee that was bursting with dark fruit flavours – check it out here.


Bewleys Coffee, Dublin – We used to get this subscription from Bewleys Coffee Project and last year enjoyed some wonderful coffees. Bewleys reacted to what was going on in coffee around Ireland with this relatively new project and, much like Bailies ‘upped their game’ somewhat. Great coffee, and still in Ireland.


3fe, Dublin – 3fe knock it out of the park with almost everything they do and not long ago it was pretty hard to get their coffee up here in Northern Ireland unless you made the trip down to Dublin. You can now pick their coffee up as retail in Established, Belfast or at Middletown Coffee Co in Ballymena. That said, it’s nice to have it arrive on your doorstep fresh. You won’t be disappointed.

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Hasbean – It would be impossible to not mention Hasbean here. Their subscription service has enough options to keep amazing coffee coming to you at almost any speed and frequency you could wish for. It arrives when they say it will, it’s always amazing and in terms of the information you get about the background of the coffee via the In My Mug videos, Hasbean are second to none. A stunningly good service.


One great thing that is happening right now in Northern Ireland is that, you will always be sure to pick up amazing coffee on retail at a variety of local specialty shops. You will regularly get the amazing Koppi and other occasional guest coffees at Lost & Found in Coleraine. Over at Babushka in Portrush, they often have new guest roasters and at the time of writing Ground Espresso Bars had some great coffees from Square Mile Coffee. Also keep an eye out for great coffee at Town Square in Belfast who currently serve Roasted Brown, and also Haptik in Newtownards, who have had Square Mile and The Barn coffee on offer in the past. If you are further south in Northern Ireland also check out Finegan & Son who are [at the time of writing] stocking Bailies and The Barn. All of these coffee shops are likely to change what they offer as new roasters, new crops and new ideas pop up around coffee. So, as we said before, keep an eye on what they are doing.

There are lots of options now and as Steve Leighton would say ‘Life is too short for bad coffee.’

You have no excuse for bad coffee in Northern Ireland these days. We love that!

Middletown Coffee Co in Ballymena

Middletown Coffee Co. opened a week ago.

Ballymena is our hometown and with our day jobs, we are here at home, a lot!

Middletown is a 15 min walk from our front door as well and, despite having lots of other coffee shops in Ballymena, this new arrival is one we are super excited about. You knew that though.

The coffee, from 3fe is tasting super. Three different coffees are on the menu right now with a changing selection of fresh food also on offer. Go say hi, you won’t be disappointed.

Here are some pics from week one.

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