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We are three. Weighing up the future

coffee

It’s three years since we started this blog and the corresponding social media accounts… first things first, follow us if you aren’t already.

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Birthdays cause me to stop and weigh up the future, even though those considerations tend to never last very long. I seriously thought about listing all of the ‘coffee ni ideas’ we have written down, got excited about and then not acted upon since 2014. That’s probably not a very productive thing to do so we will spare you all the laughs.

Truthfully though, I have not been the best blogger I could have been, opting instead to just post images to Instagram or share articles/info that others have worked hard on. I still firmly believe that coffee professionals should be writing/saying more about their industry. Elsewhere around the world they are doing just that… but, not so much here in Northern Ireland. Maybe that will change in the future but for now, people talking about coffee and starting blogs tend to be home enthusiasts like me. That’s ok as well I guess but, I think it curbs my enthusiasm a little and halts me from talking about certain things.

It is what it is…

So, the initial hype of “wow, we have speciality coffee in Northern Ireland” has settled down a bit now, even though people will continue to discover great coffee if the standard remains high in local shops… we hope. We think.

We are excited for the continuing development and growth of speciality coffee, excellent food and service in Northern Ireland.

Thanks to everyone who follows the Instagram feed – you can see it on the bottom of this page now.

Thanks to Bailies who still send us amazing coffee.

Most of all, thanks to the farmers, importers, exporters, roasters, coffee shop owners, chefs and baristas who have helped us enjoy food and coffee in new and exciting ways in the past three years.

 


 

If you work in coffee here in Northern Ireland and would like to share your story or have ideas for an article, please get in touch via social media or you can email me direct at: supersimbo[at]gmail[dot]com

We’d love to hear from you.

Koppi Fine Coffee Roasters

Koppi was founded in 2007 by the Swedish barista champions Anne Lunell and Charles Nystrand. The roastery and coffee bar, situated in the heart of Helsingborg, offer coffee experiences out of the ordinary.
Our ambition is to be one of the best roasters in the world and our aim is always to buy, roast, brew and serve coffee from the worlds best coffee producers.

Read more on the Koppi website.

Yesterday evening Anne Lunell rounded off a quick tour of Ireland at Established Coffee in Belfast with conversation about Koppi and a tasting of their latest coffee offerings.

Anne had visited Lost & Found on Monday and Vice in Dublin on Sunday for similar events. The feedback from around the web on these events looked great. Last night was relaxed, informal and fun… the sun was out and amazing coffee was the focus of conversation so what could be bad about that.

A genuinely humble and friendly Anne told us about the growth of Koppi Fine Coffee Roasters and their focus on traceability and integrity. It’s always a super exciting experience to hear about the interest and growth in speciality coffee outside of Northern Ireland and, great for us to connect with other coffee people from around the world.

These types of events are great for speciality coffee in Ireland & Northern Ireland. Thanks again to Mark & Bridgeen as well as their staff team for the hospitality and passion for sharing speciality coffee.

Jonathan Parks Barista Trainer at Bailies Coffee

Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?

I am a barista trainer with Bailies Coffee Company, a director of Fellow Bicycle Co., and a family man with a stunning wife and two beautiful kids. I was born in Arizona (American dad, N. Irish mum) and eventually settled down in Belfast 10 years ago.

Jonathan with child

How did you get into coffee?

Like a lot of people, my start in coffee wasn’t a strategic move; I was 20 and just needed a job. So I started working in a café in a Barnes & Noble bookshop making chai lattes and café au laits for the bookworms. The next few years had me moving from Missouri to Detroit before landing here in Northern Ireland and a decent place to work when you’re travelling around is Starbucks because they are everywhere. After a few years of honing my skills in the fine art of frappuccinoery, I finally made my way into working with really good coffee at a small, independent café tucked quietly behind Queen’s University here in Belfast; Common Grounds became my home for the next 6 years. It’s a special place where I learned a lot about what it takes to be a good barista. Not only the coffee making part of the job but the customer service, the multi-tasking, the keeping cool under pressure. After my time there, I joined the team here at Bailies where I actually get paid to continue learning about all those things and pass them on to others. It’s a good job.

How do you make coffee at home?

I rarely make a coffee at home during the week. The weekends are for taking your time and zoning in on a V60 ritual though. The process is as relaxing and meditative as the final result.

Espresso or filter?

I really do love and drink a lot of both but mostly filter.

What’s the best coffee you’ve had recently that we should all try?

I had a washed Kenyan from Round Hill Roastery recently that was lovely. Very juicy and sweet. I really like the Ethiopia Henna Natural that Bailies are roasting too. I love the almost-boozy berry notes in it. And quite uniquely, we’re also roasting the same beans but as a washed coffee. Tasting them side-by-side is a real treat.

Jonathan talking about coffee

What developments would you like to see in coffee here in NI?

I’d love to see the community between baristas develop a bit more here. The NI Aeropress Championship was a great example of how to encourage that; getting the country’s coffee-makers/enthusiasts in the same room just to have fun and connect. I think the more that happens, the better our coffee culture will get. We need more really great cafés opening, but you can’t do that without more really great baristas.


 

Big thanks to Jonathan… It’s great to see a coffee journey unfold like this and also great to hear from another team member at Bailies Coffee.

We have a bag of that Ethiopia Henna Natural here which we will be tasting really soon! Boozy berry you say… we can’t wait!

Julia McKenna Barista Trainer at Bailies Coffee

Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?

My name is Julia and I am a barista trainer for Bailies Coffee Co. I’ve been working as a barista for 8 and a half years now, working with Bailies for 9 months and am loving it! I can also crochet a pretty mean cushion cover or two..

How did you get into coffee?

I got into coffee when I took a part time job at Clements whilst I was studying at uni. I stayed on after I graduated and was there for 7 glorious coffee filled years during which time I met so many amazing people and found that there was a fantastic coffee community beyond my own little shop.

How do you make coffee at home?

At home I am currently mostly using Aeropress. I also like to brew a V60 and I have a Chemex in my cupboard as well. But truthfully, I prefer to drink tea at home! I tend to arrive home after work feeling pretty caffeinated, tea helps me to feel relaxed.

Espresso or filter?

Espresso with milk first thing in the morning for my fix, then a nice V60 filter brew of something special a little while after. Then more filter to top my caffeine levels up throughout the day.

What’s the best coffee you’ve had recently that we should all try?

Our newest espresso blend, Escher, is pretty special. It’s a seasonal blend that is oh so sumptuous and smooth, with big chocolate notes but with sweet fruit and floral flavours as well. The first time I tried it was just before we headed to Dublin for Catex. When I drank it I was just like, “wow.. This is good.. This is very good.” It has been a long time since an espresso made me react in such a way, so that’s how I knew it was special. It’s not available yet, but watch this space!!

What developments would you like to see in coffee here in NI?

I would love to see more of our baristas getting involved in competitions and other coffee related events. The Northern Irish heat of the UKBC used to be the biggest heat of the whole chapter but now there isn’t an NI heat at all. This is partly due to our competitors entering IBC but even so, there aren’t as many entrants from this side of the border that there used to be back in the day of N.I’s heat for UKBC. I think this is slowly changing though. The success of the NI Aeropress championship is a glimpse of what’s to come. We have so many talented coffee professionals, it’s only a matter of time before we have our own regional barista championships.


 

Thanks for answering our questions Julia, we can’t wait to try out that new Espresso blend and we hope you are right about the UKBC NI heat. We would love to see that in the near future!

Stephen Houston, Roastery Assistant at Bailies Coffee

Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?

My name is Stephen Houston, I’m 29 from Belfast. I work as a Roastery assistant for Bailies Coffee, In my spare time I create stencil art and I really love cycling, keeping fit and competing in kickboxing.

How did you get into coffee?

I have liked coffee for a very long time, but was only really in the last year I have become aware of how interesting and extensive the whole coffee culture is. I have been with Bailies since July 2014 and in this time I have fallen more in love with coffee and everything about it. I have been learning how to roast, see where coffee comes from, proper brewing techniques, learning the complexities of coffee flavours and have been having a blast doing so. I can’t wait for the rest of my journey into the world of coffee!

How do you make coffee at home?

At home I use a french press, aeropress and just recently purchased a whole Hario V60 set up.

Espresso or filter?

I used to only really take espresso but over the last few months, with a bit of education and learning new ways of making filter, I have to say I am enjoying it just as much!

What’s the best coffee you’ve had recently that we should all try?

Not playing favourites or because I work there, but the new Bailies coffee from Costa Rica, Finca Gamboa is superb. It’s a full bodied washed coffee with great flavours and delicious aromas, a very more-ish coffee. I have been brewing it through the v60 with great results!

Stephen Houston, Roastery Assistant at Bailies CoffeeWhat developments would you like to see in coffee here in NI?

I think we are going the right direction, more people are getting into coffee week after week, I’ve noticed this a lot since starting in Bailies, every week more people are buying coffee subscriptions, aero presses and other home brewing kits, which is great. I think there still needs to be a lot more education and more events to get people really immersed into the whole coffee culture. I am also liking the amount of new coffee shops opening up with more options and better baristas that really make going for coffee more special, more enjoyable and getting people hooked on this wonderful culture. So as long as we keep moving forward, inspire new people and keep producing world class coffee, we could become a global force in the coffee world.


 

Thanks Stephen, we think Northern Ireland is heading in the right direction too… it is exciting to see more and more engagement around coffee and great to hear that Bailies are seeing more subscriptions, brewing kit sales etc.

We love to hear this kind of thing.