Over the last few months we’ve been working with the Gentlemen Baristas in training all our team members to make the best coffee in town sourcing a new exclusive blend, which can go head to head with specialty coffee shops!
We invited Henry Ayers, Director of the Gentlemen Baristas and the maestro behind our new blend and training all of our team, to talk about coffee and explain in further detail what makes the new blend so great.
Hi Henry, thanks for joining us. First of all, what coffee is used in The Snug at the moment and how does it compare to popular coffee shops?
Originally the Snug blend was a strong classic Italian blend, majority robusta, dark and punchy. We decided to create a new blend, which is still an Italian roast, a majority arabica though, medium roast, smoother, more rounded with hints of caramel, soft, velvety, full of chocolate treacle with a slight lemon bite and amazing with milk.
55% of the bean is from India. The lush green hills of South India provide the world with much more than just scenic beauty - they are the home of India's largest coffee plantations. Situated in the hills of Mysore, Coorg, Hassan, Chickmaglur and the Nilgiris, these plantations produce fine coffee. The natural elements here are conducive to good coffee growth. Favourable climate, fertile soil, scientific cultivation and stringent quality control all contribute to producing the finest mild coffee in the world today - rich, smooth and full of flavour of the beans from here - Robusta cherry.
The other part is Brazilian. Santos, from the Minas Gerais region - note not Gervais as in Ricky. Grown at an altitude of 1150 metres above sea level, harvested from June till August, from a co-operative of farmers. A bourbon arabica making up 45% of the blend.
Well I think the customer will prefer this to certain high street stores coffee, the staff already do!
Do you enjoy training people on how to make the best coffee?
For me this is crucial in our relationship with our customers; it's proved very effective with the teams at The Snug. For us at the Gentlemen baristas it's a passion-led job, we love what we do, we do what we love! When the students get it and the penny drops and they understand how to make a great coffee, then that...well you can't beat that feeling! We've had training sessions at each Snug site, each different in setup, and each team with its own personalities. What we found was by giving the guys the right tools and showing them why we do things a certain way and how it benefits the end result, we found that the teams got really into it, taking pictures and genuinely enjoying the whole process. Don't serve something you wouldn't be prepared to drink yourself. The feedback so far from customers and staff alike is really positive and very encouraging.
What is a good coffee to you? Is it all in the beans?
It helps if the coffee is good, however it's very much about the barista too - the skill of the person who actually made your coffee. It may sound a bit crazy but if the person making the drink genuinely cares and they want you to enjoy it, then you know you're about to experience a great cup of coffee.
This though is just part of the story; we concentrate strongly on variables, factors that effect the taste of the coffee. What kind of roast? Dark or light? How much arabica? Robusta? Blend or single origin? Is the machine clean? How fresh is that ground coffee? The serve (how it's presented to the customer)?
Where have you had your worst coffee?
Well, I could say, but I'd better not, I needed to use their wifi, so I bought an espresso, no crema, bitter, awful. I didn't drink it...Let's just say I prefer independents than the big high street chains.
Have you ever tried Kopi Luwak and can you explain what it is exactly?
I have indeed! We have friends we do some work for, who import it. This is the most expensive coffee available on the market - at anything from £60 to £300 a cup.
In Indonesia there lives an animal called a Civet cat, it's a Mammal, not really your classic looking cat. They tend to be nocturnal, coming out at night to feed on amongst other things the coffee cherry, the fruit of the coffee tree. This they feast on...and this is where it gets strange. The actual bean, the seed of the coffee berry, passes through the creature and out the other side! Yes that's right the beans are pooped out where they are gathered up and washed and then dried. So what is it that makes this coffee so special? Well, whilst in the Civets stomach the acids there eat the berry and for some strange reason the bitter taste and acidity you often get from coffee is lost, gone completely - giving the drinker a very smooth tasting coffee. Due to the volumes produced, the fact it's sourced from a wild animal and the taste, it is very expensive. But not all civet coffee is the same, some farmers are keeping civets caged and force feeding them, producing what is often known as coffee luwak - not nice you'll agree. Our friends don't do this though and that's why we are still friends with them. They also invest money back into the farming community, so we like them even more.
What tricks or gadgets from the trade you would recommend for people making coffee at home?
An aeropress! And a little grinder so you can grind fresh beans when ever you like...it's very easy. Go out and try different coffees, see what's out there.
Thank you for your time, would you like to say something else or tell people how can they find you?
Good coffee is a right not a luxury! Demand more from your barista! Follow us on twitter @thegbswhatwhat!