Coffee Culture, Alexandria
On previous visits to the States, I would say I found the coffee experience a little underwhelming; bottomless coffee maybe but weak and watery and better avoided.
Yesterday however we had a great visit to Swings Coffee Roasters just round the corner in Alexandria. We loved the building immediately – previously an old bakery, big and airy with a roasting area out the back with big glass windows from the café.
New to us this time was their pour over coffee service – basically a drip through coffee filter that you’ll remember as the coffee process we had before cafetieres. Just the required amount of single estate coffee beans are weighed out and ground for each cup so we chose beans from El Salvador, Sumatra and Guatemala. The coffee is put in the filter, wetted with some just off boiling water and then the water is pulsed over to bring out all the flavours of the coffee, finally dripping through the rest of the water for about 2 minutes. The menu sounds like a description of wines – dark fruits, chocolate, black olive, citrus – but the notes definitely came through on tasting the individual beans; delicious and all different.
All this and more was explained to us by barista Emma after which Margaret the manager said Scott the roaster would be happy to chat if we would like to see round the coffee roastery. Would we? Yes please!
Scott talked us through the whole process from buying the beans from individual farmers around the coffee globe, storage of beans at the farms before shipping – different storage gives different flavours, roasting the beans, temperatures, cooling, grinding, shipping, customers’ needs and much more.
The roasting machine was reminiscent of the set up of the tea processing plant we saw in Munnar on our travels round India – straightforward engineering (to my mind) with the final product coming out at the end in not much time at all – 15 minutes or so.
The smell, as you can imagine, was incredible and the beans packed at once. The recommendation is to only grind the coffee you need from beans and to use them up within 2 weeks of purchase to get the best flavours; we’ll be rethinking our coffee when we get home….
Huge thanks to all at Swings Coffee Roasters especially Emma, Margaret and Scott for their generosity of time and knowledge to some random Brits asking questions; a great morning spent learning loads about what they do and tasting their fantastic coffees. We’re now spoilt for coffee elsewhere!