Chris and Anne own Monsoon Estates which is a coffee company. They import and hand roast beans from around the world fulfilling individual orders from an elite clientele.
Chris in another life was a property developer and Anne was a nurse. They lived in Australia for many years which is where their passion for coffee arose.
Chris the barista showed us the pure science behind brewing a perfect cup of coffee. Whatever method you use to grind your beans must give you a perfectly even result. This is for 2 reasons. “Think of sand and pebbles” says Chris…..if you pour water through a mixture of the two, the water will follow the path where the bigger granules are, thereby not extracting the best from your beans. Secondly depending on the type of method for brewing you are using you will need a finer or coarser grind. Espresso is very fine all the way up to a coarser one for cafetières or French presses.
There are aero presses, percolators, filtered coffee machines, espresso machines, cafetières, and who knows what else? I guess we all just pick what suits our needs the best.
Once ground, the coffee must be tamped down into the gizmo through which the water will pour. It must be tamped straight and square or the water will flow through down the low side again minimising the best use of your grind.
The pressure of the water coming through is also important, but Chris says the most important is size and even-ness of grind. A perfect pour is usually achieved when it takes about 25 seconds from pressure build in the machine to completely into the cup.
The important thing about the “pour” is that it is evenly flowing, smooth and curves inward as you can see in the above photo.
When steaming and frothing the milk, Chris says when he can no longer hold the milk jug with it placed squarely on his palm, he shifts to holding it by the handle and then changes the effect of the steam by bringing it higher into the jug causing bubbles. When this part is finished he gently taps the bottom of the jug on the counter to make the appearance of the milk more velvety. He calls this polishing.
We really shouldn’t subject our coffee to water higher than 95ºC. What Chris suggests is, if using a cafetière for example, don’t start fussing with the jug and the preparation until the water has already boiled. That way you give the water a few seconds to calm itself and not “burn” your waiting grind.
The photo above is of Will who is Chris and Anne’s son. He helps out when he can. The job he is doing is critical and very tedious. He and his friend who was also there, go through every single bean and pick out anything not quite perfect. So….this could be a small stone, a malformed bean, in fact anything other than a perfectly formed fresh raw bean. I’m quite sure the big coffee guys don’t do this…..just sayin’
The beans in the photo above are raw….did you know they looked this way?
Anne is the roaster of the family. They have a new machine called a Probat which is from Germany and is the Rolls Royce of coffee roasters…who knew?
Here’s the process….they bring in beans from around the world, and in the first instance roast a small quantity. Depending on the actual bean, so an Arabica bean is “high grown” and could be quite delicate while a Robusta bean is grown on lower slopes and has more moisture and maybe more acidity. This first roast and subsequent brew will depend how they continue to roast this batch.
Traditionally, espresso roasts were often darker roasted and less acidic. These days there is a the trend for lighter brighter espresso so some roasters will light roast for this. Chris at Monsoon Estates says that although he can occasionally enjoy a brighter espresso, his favourite would be a bigger bodied, less acidic Papua New Guinea coffee especially when adding milk for a flat white. At the end of the day it’s all a personal taste thing!
Civet cat coffee (among the most expensive in the world) actually is really delicious but its really hard to verify the provenance of the beans. There is a theory that true civet cat coffee, one that has been collected from cats in the wild, is the result of cats visiting a coffee bush once or twice and picking the best berries. Cats reared even “free range” but in captivity visit the same bushes over and over again. Apparently there is such a thing as “elephant poo” coffee. Same principle…..animal feeds on coffee berries, they are hard to digest and come out whole in the poo but have their flavour somehow improved by the digestive process.
This roast took 13.5 minutes, and Anne says even 15 seconds more would have affected its perfection. The photo above is the beans part way through the roasting and below the final colour.
The photo above is the beans being funnelled into a waiting container for further inspection, and the one below is the chaff. This is the papery covering on each bean which is shunted off during the roasting process. There’s not much wastage in the coffee business. The actual bean casing which starts life red and juicy, is dried and made into a tea called cascara.
Mark and I, accompanied by my father in law Ron, spent a delightful (and delicious) few hours with Chris and Anne. Their knowledge about coffee is unquestionable and their passion very evident. They are simply about good coffee and about introducing you to what suits your palette and lifestyle best.
It might be interesting for you to know that their coffee is not more expensive than mass produced, roasted in huge quantities, high street brands, and is noticeably better.
Win a chance to tour Monsoon Estates with your friend and come back with some delightful coffee of your own – to enter the prize draw click here.