Ristresso Series. Interview with York Coffee Emporium

York Coffee Emporium speak to us about the coffee business in York and how to make a perfect brew at home

York Coffee Emporium is a supplier to some of York’s best independent businesses whilst also selling commercially via the Yorkshire Pantry and online. One of the new owners, Laurence, gave us an insight into coffee in York.

What’s good about coffee in York?
There are lots of superb independent coffee houses serving great coffee and a lively coffee culture. You also have an Independent Artisan Coffee roaster.

Any tips for making coffee at home?
Experiment and find your favourite coffees. I have a blend that I love in the morning and a different one for later in the day, along with a list of favourite origins. Preparation wise, if you can’t afford a home espresso machine then a French press or aeropress is fantastic. The three most important things are not to use boiling water (just off boiling is good), to own a grinder and to buy whole beans.

Where are the most exciting new coffees coming from?
One of my favourite coffees at present is the Skybury from Australia, but coffees are seasonal and the quality can vary from crop to crop. Currently my favourites are Kenyan AA, Dominican Republic Constanza, Guatemalan SHB, Ethiopian Sidamo and the Cuban Serrano. Vietnam is doing some surprising things and I hope to get some Rwandan & Burundi coffee in soon.

What are the benefits of single origins versus blends?
Single origins are a single coffee bean variety such as Columbian Supremo. They are normally from a specific region or plantation and are of the same variety of tree. Blends are a mix of different varieties and this is done for several different reasons, but mainly to create a cup that is better tasting than the individual constituent parts. Purists will argue that high quality Arabica coffee should be enjoyed on its own and the better coffees will be well balanced and have a good clean flavour. If you taste some of the single origins available on our website they can be enjoyed without blending and are superb individually, but because most of us are inquisitive and like to try new things, blending is a great way of adding additional flavours and dimensions to our favourite coffees. [The Dutch invented the Mokha-Java blend in the 1600’s by blending the heavy bodied chocolaty Java with the exotic Yemeni bean to create a timeless classic. Italian espressos are of course blended.] As with most things, it’s all down to personal taste and in my cupboard you’ll find my favourite blends that I drink daily but also a few single origins that I’ll enjoy on their own.

What are your plans for YCE?
We are growing the roastery at present and we’re serving more wholesale customers in York. We are also engaging in some website SEO work to increase our web presence nationally. Once in the new roastery I would like to host cupping [tasting] sessions so watch this space. But, we will never get too big and will always be an independent specialist artisan roaster.

Finally, what’s currently next to your grinder at home?
At the moment I’m experimenting with a pour-over station – a method of brewing coffee that is growing in popularity. It involves pouring hot water from a hot water kettle through a filter cone dripper that brews your coffee through a paper cone filter and drops it into the waiting cup below. Pour-over brewing allows you to make a single cup of coffee in a very simple fashion with manual control over the water temperature and brew time. It is very popular in Japan.

Bean drinking

YCE have put together some recommendations for some of their beans and blends to try with different brew methods:
1. French Press: try the Australian Skybury or Dominican Republic
2. Espresso Machine: try our South American (medium) or Four Bean Blend (stronger)
3. Aeropress: go for a Java Blawan or Guatemalan
4. Stove-top: try our four bean blend or heavy French roast if you dare.
5. Filter: try the Emporium Blend or Ethiopian Sidamo

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