Set in the old London railway arches of Bermondsey, Monmouth are an artisan coffee roasting company that pride themselves on sustainability and strong relationships with the coffee growers across the globe (they can agree the price directly with the farmer). Their frequent visits take them to Brazil, Costa Rica, Indonesia and Guatemala to understand the process from picking to harvest in the search for quality and fair trade. They have been roasting since 1978 and encourage consumers to taste the different varietals and appreciate the differing levels of aroma and flavours at their shops in Covent Garden & Borough market.
Rather like wine tasting, there is a coffee tasting etiquette. You first take in the coffee aroma, then dip your spoon into the cup and take a quick slurp to detect the levels of flavour and acidity around your mouth, discreetly spit to the front of your cup and most importantly decide whether you liked it or not.
These coffee beans have been roasted and are in their final stage of cooling in this large vat before being packed into crates and set on their way to market and local suppliers. Roasted and ground coffee is best served as fresh as possible, the journey of the green coffee bean from harvest to Monmouth would take around 8 weeks.
Amazingly, a coffee plant can be productive for 120 years. During the first stage of crop growth you will see white jasmine scented flowers (critical signs of the likely size and uniformity of the crop) and then the cherry begins to develop, the colour of the cherry can make a real difference to the taste. The cherry from Brazil is yellow and can produce sweet and chocolate notes, whereas the coffee from Africa can be quite complex giving lots of flavour with strong fruity characteristics. During the tasting session, our sensory skills were put to the test as we travelled through 6 coffee varietals from across the globe. My favourite was the coffee from Guatemala with its chocolaty, caramel and burnt orange flavours, it didn't leave an after taste like some of the other varietals and it was really warming.
A big thank you to everyone at Monmouth for a really informative and fun day. I left early evening dashing through the cobbley London streets with my goody bag swinging into the night, leaving a heady trail of freshly ground coffee aroma... all the way home.