Hepple WI was pleased to welcome Stuart Archer from Pumphreys to their April meeting to give a talk on his work as a barista.
Stuart outlined the journey coffee went through to arrive at a shop in the UK. He explained that coffee is the fruit of a shrub, which resembles a cherry and has a stone in the middle. There are two main species: Robusta and arabica. Most are still hand picked. The stones are then removed either by pulping or sun-drying, before the skins are removed in a mill.
It is in this form that the beans arrive in the UK for the roasting process which develops the flavours and involves the use of carbon dioxide. When roasted, the beans increase in size by 25 per cent and in weight by 15-20 per cent. There are indeed three times as many flavours in coffee as in wine.
Once ground, coffee begins to go stale in as little as 20 minutes, and in order to keep it fresh, five key elements should be avoided: Light, heat, air, moisture and strong odours.
Most coffee beans in the UK are sold in air-tight plastic bags, and Stuart recommended that they were purchased little and often, and ground as soon as possible after purchase to retain maximum freshness.
He felt that the simplest methods of processing coffee were the best, without the use of electronic gadgets. He recommended just putting the ground coffee in a filter paper and pouring water over. If a percolator was used, the coffee should take six-seven minutes to be ready, in a cafetiere just four minutes.
Stuart’s personal choice of favourite coffees was from Eastern Africa - Kenya and Ethiopia, where the soil was best for growing coffee. He explained that freeze dried coffee, such as Nescafe, was generally a poorer quality coffee.
Stuart brought with him samples of coffee beans at the various processes in production, and ended by making some coffee from freshly ground beans for members to taste.
His highly informative and entertaining talk was immensely enjoyed by all who attended, and his knowledge of and enthusiasm for coffee was evident throughout the evening.
The competition for three drop scones was won by Margaret Laidler, with Rosie Dickson second and Barbara Hunter third.