Coffee Award Time

Coffee Award Time

What an amazing couple of weeks here and Hessian HQ! Firstly a nomination into the Hertfordshire Life Food and Drink Awards for Best Local Supplier and then we were a finalist!  To top it off, our coffee was recognised and awarded a Great Taste Award with the National Guild of Fine Foods.

We must be doing something right!  Initially we were nominated by one of our wonderful customers for the supplier award.  This came as a great surprise as we are just a couple of families running a business doing what we love to do.

Coffee Award – How it all started!

The process began with the nomination. Because of this, it then encouraged other Hessian customers to complete a form to also vote. So it allowed customers to give comments and give evidence on everything.  Everything from products, service, attitude, ethics, standards, consistency and quality. I saw the form and it was by no means a 30 second tick box exercise. Paragraphs needed to be written under the various categories so the judges knew why it was being nominated. We are not sure who out of our amazing customers completed the paperwork but the mystery is appreciated.

Following assessment on the nominations we were visited and interviewed by one of the Hertfordshire food and Life team.  This section was based on the comments completed on the earlier forms. It was nice to have a few moments sitting and talking about what it is we do.  What drives us, along with what growth plans and aspirations we have as a business. Being reflective on the business during this interview highlighted to me that we do a pretty good job and should be proud of our achievements to date. I have to say it also bought home the need to pause and take stock from time to time.  Take time to assess oursevles, ask questions, re-focus and re-energise. I plan to build this into the working week instead of running around constantly.

The next stage in the process

The next stage saw us being invited to the stunning Hatfield House in Hertfordshire for a drinks reception. Next was a 3 course sit down meal and the awards ceremony for finalist. Here we enjoyed stunning food and surroundings awaiting nervously when our category was called.

The Food and Drink 2017 awards are broken down to 12 categories.  These range from best pub, café, restaurant, chef, suppler, newcomer, customer service etc, with nominations in each area.  An added surprise was that 2 of our customers were up for 4 awards also, one winning many accolades. The lunch flowed into the afternoon with coffee and wine.  A great time was had with us getting the chance to meet likeminded people all striving to be the best at what they do. We returned home with goodie bags from the sponsors and a framed certificate which is proudly sitting on my desk as we speak.  Not a category winner but proud and honoured to be thought about in such high regards.

The award continues

Hessians recognition continued into the start of August.  We had news of a win in the Great Taste award for one of our freshly roasted espresso beans.

Our Bourbon Select was submitted a couple of month ago. We pretty much had forgotten we had done so. At Hessian we know this coffee is simply fantastic and consistent in every roast and something which we are incredibly proud of. It doesn’t just taste great as an espresso or a latte, its also 100% Arabica. The beans being farmed from a single growing area in El Salvador and is certified Rainforest Alliance.

Judged by over 500 of the most demanding palates.  Now that is impressive already don’t you think! The palates belonging to food critics, chefs, cooks, restaurateurs and producers.  Let not forget also that food writers and journalists are also part of the panel.  The comments received included “Muted on the nose. A lovely creamy, coffee coloured crema. This has a big, initial mouth hit with good top notes.  The level of acidity is pleasing. The sweetness is the result of the acidity and the long finish was enjoyed by the team”

Great Taste Award

Out of over 12,300 products judged we were awarded a 1-star Great Taste award which means judges dubbed it simply delicious. Only 20% of those entered gained an award, so we are blown away again with our recognition.  Great Taste is widely acknowledged as the most respected food accreditation scheme for artisan and speciality food producers. As well as a badge of honour, the unmistakeable black and gold Great Taste label is a signpost to a wonderful tasting product.  Products that have been discovered through hours and hours of blind-tasting by hundreds of judges.

Not bad for a Bishops Stortford, local, family ran company in its seconds year trading!

How our coffee is roasted

How our coffee is roasted

How is your coffee roasted?  This is often a question asked either by customers, prospective customers, or competitors.  I would like to say it is lovingly roasted by 2 guys in a shed with tattoos, handlebar moustaches, skinny jeans, no socks with impeccable sensory awareness.  Men with pallets as smooth as silk and hand packed by ninja’s!  But this is not the case and nor is this the case for the majority of coffee roasted in the UK.

Most coffee we drink in the UK has been commercially roasted and packaged (still lovingly) in a factory somewhere.  At Hessian Coffee we are extremely proud of the fact we use a commercial roaster and don’t feel the need to pretend we are something other.

The roasting process

The roasting process is something that needs your undivided attention.  Attention that is required throughout the entire process to ensure this perfect consistency. I am a big believer in letting those that know what they are doing get on with it.

So it begins with the green coffee beans (the coffee plant seed) arriving in large Hessian coffee sacks.  They come from whichever part of the world it is grown (always between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn). As seeds, the green coffee will not deteriorate and it is the process of roasting that unlocks the flavour and aroma from the cells.  This gives us coffee beans as we know them. Before these little green beans can enter the oven, they are always quality checked for defects or any foreign bodies that may have entered the sacks during harvest or transportation.  Next, small batch samples are roasted and cupped to ensure they meet our quality requirement.

Coffee roasting takes time

Roasting takes around 15 minutes at temperatures of between 200 – 230 degrees C.  During this time the beans will expand and “crack”.  This cracking is fundamental in the process as it allows the aroma and flavours to develop.  If the beans pass the point of no-return which is after a second crack the beans will be ruined. This is one of the reason we use an expert for their years of experience, quality controls and state of the art roasting technology.

Once roasted to our recipe they are cooled.  Cooling is critical as you don’t want to continue cooking the beans. Lighter roast coffees generally have more acidity and tend to be dry.  Whereas darker roasts develop oils on the surface and offer a bitter taste. Caffeine levels also decrease the darker the coffee is roasted.

It’s about the balance

Getting that balance correct 100% of the time is the key to our blends. One of which is a great taste award winner. Transported through tubes like something out of Willy Wonker and the Chocolate Factory our beans are whizzed to packaging.  Here they are cleverly weighed to ensure each branded kilo bag has a kilo of wonderful coffee in it. Next they get thermally sealed with a valve to ensure any additional de-gassing can take place.  Lastly they are lovingly hand packed in our bespoke boxes ready for shipping.

Our Coffee beans in either single origin, arabica blends or mixed blend, are roasted specifically for the Hessian Coffee brand. By using the finest grade green coffee every time and it is our policy to trade in an ethical, environmental and socially responsible manner.

It’s a real art and science to consistently deliver quality freshly roasted coffee.  So as mentioned we are delighted to leave it with the pro’s, allowing me and the other guys to get on with what they are good at!