Bean review: Notes
In this week’s bean review, Phil Wain brews three coffees from North London's Notes.
After running a coffee van in Paris, Robert Robinson set up the Flap Cap coffee cart in 2008 and brought on board Fabio Ferreira, who is from a family of Brazilian coffee roasters. Joining forces with Alan and Marion Goulden they launched Notes in 2010, combining coffee, food, wine and music. Then in 2013, they launched their own roastery north of King’s Cross with Fabio taking the reins in a role he seemed predestined for.
Fabio runs the Notes roastery with head roaster Candice Madison. Candice brings her advanced coffee knowledge and high standards to join with Fabio in creating some of London’s best roasts using high quality green beans, sourced from such prestigious green coffee importers as Nordic Approach. Below are three coffees currently available from Notes.
Hector Bonilla Cruz, a third generation coffee farmer, grows spectacular coffees at a high altitude. Don Mayo (named after his father) is one of them. This is a natural coffee. Natural coffee production is more common in countries such as Ethiopia; but in Central America, farmers have responded to a market for natural coffees with a variety of natural and semi-natural production methods – such as honey processing.
The bag smells of guava, pineapple and other tropical fruit flavours and the beans have a beautiful medium roast brown smoothness and great regularity. Flavour is dominated by pineapple but with a caramel sweetness, a slight spiciness and a hint of vanilla. The tasting notes mentioned a strawberry-like acidity and a dried mango-sweetness – neither of which I can argue with but neither of which I can credit myself with identifying. The pineapple tastes linger in the mouth deliciously after drinking.
Varietal: Caturra | Process: Natural | Phil's tasting notes: pineapple, caramel, vanilla
£12 for 250g via notes-uk.co.uk/shop
The Panatanal farm prides itself on training the local pickers to pick only the ripest coffee cherries. La Paz is situated in a mountainous area of Honduras and the family farms of the descendants of Don Fabio Caballero are producing some of the best Honduran coffees. This medium light roast has great regularity of bean appearance. The aroma and taste is dominated by crisp, clean flavours of green with the refreshing acidity of Granny Smiths (as always, I taste without reading the bag so I was delighted to find the same wording there). A honey-like sweetness balances the acidity. As the coffee cools floral and stone fruit flavours come into play.
Varietal: New Catuai | Process: Washed | Phil's tasting notes: green apple, honey, florals, plum
£9.50 for 250g via notes-uk.co.uk/shop
Coffee production is vital to the post-genocide Rwandan economy. This coffee is from the Motherland washing station, set up as a collaboration between a Rwandan landowner and a group of Norwegian private investors and enthusiasts. A local co-operative of farmers has been trained and are producing some excellent coffee.
The dry grounds give off a chocolate aroma that turns to black forest gateau on the addition of hot water. The dominant flavours of this brew are dark chocolate and cherry with juicy plum acidity and sugar sweetness. The beans are quite varied in size as you expect in a mixed local heirloom varietal grown by up to a thousand smallholders. This is another superb Notes roast.
Varietal: Local Heirloom and Bourbon | Process: Washed | Phil's tasting notes: dark chocolate, cherry, plum acidity, sugar sweet
£9.60 for 250g via notes-uk.co.uk/shop