I’ll admit it – I was certainly a bartender a while ago who used to hate getting asked for a coffee at the bar. This is a bar, not a Starbucks, order a proper drink. I hadn’t spent years learning cocktail recipes to spend my days making free refill coffees for lunching ladies. I’d always enjoyed drinking coffee, but I didn’t want to make it. I had it all wrong.
The Turning Point
In September 2010 I got a job offer to go out to open a brand new 5 star hotel on The Palm in Dubai, at the time i wasn’t really enjoying my job, I didn’t have any real ties to where I was living (I was renting an apartment etc) and I took the job, within a month I was landing in the Middle East ready to write menus and train some bartenders.
We spent a couple of weeks pre-opening coming up with new cocktails and refining classics, opened our bar on the marina to Louis Vuitton’s yachting after party and all was good. We had Sheiks parachuting into the bar for private parties (that night we made nearly 200 mojitos for a party of 40). Life was good, even though the hours were long and hot in the Dubai sun.
Back to the Coffee
Dubai is home to RAW Coffee, with their own roastery based within the city (at the garden centre, swing by if you’re in Dubai for the best coffee you will ever drink at their in store coffee bar) and they were providing all of the coffee to One & Only The Palm, and as a part of the deal they also provided training for our baristas and general staff.
The guys that came to the hotel completely inspired me when it came to coffee. This was not something I expected – I always saw coffee as a sideshow to the main event, the cocktails, but the way they taught coffee making was hypnotic. Setting up the perfect grind, adjusting based on the day’s humidity, being able to tell what part of the coffee machine needed cleaning based on the flavour of the espresso, stitching the milk – everything was fascinating, right down to the 18kg tamping pressure they advocated and drilled into the staff.
The Big Difference
It turned out that the biggest factor in the way this coffee tasted over the other coffee I’d tried was the freshness of the beans. Where the beans I’d drunk in the past had been sat on a shelf after roasting for up to 6 months, we were getting RAW Coffee in a matter of days, and the difference was like night and day. This is also the reason I was inspired to write about coffee today. Having returned home from Dubai, I got a lot of comments from both colleagues and customers that I was making the best coffee they’d tasted for years, using the same beans as everyone else (Lavazza I think it was), but I missed the freshness of RAW Coffee.
Enter Pact Coffee
I saw a Facebook ad on Saturday night for a company called Pact Coffee, advertising extremely fresh coffee, shipped straight to the door in the UK. I signed up right away and I’m currently waiting for my first shipment right now, it should be landing tomorrow, and I’ll let you know how it tastes, but I’m really hopeful. The service so far has been outstanding, from the sign up process which finds the perfect coffee for you based on how you drink your coffee, what equipment you use and whether you grind your own beans. I also got an email from my “Coffee Wingman”, Callum, which is a really nice touch.
I’ll post a review of the coffee when it arrives, but if you want to give it a try in the mean time, they’ll send you the first 250g bag of coffee for £1, its normally around £6 and they’ll ship it automatically every couple of weeks so you’re never without great (hopefully!) coffee, and give you the option to pause shipments or get emergency next day coffee when you need it. Click here to try it.
Do you want to hear more about coffee on BartenderHQ, tips on making your coffee awesome and getting the best from your machine? Let me know in the comments below, or shoot me an email on david@bartenderHQ.com