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Bean review: Square Mile

Bean review: Square Mile

In this week’s bean review, Phil Wain brews three coffees from London's Square Mile. 

There is no doubt that the founding of Square Mile Coffee Roasters was the key point in the development of London’s coffee scene. James Hoffmann (World Barista Champion 2007) and Anette Moldvaer (World Cupping Champion 2007) formed Square Mile in 2008 and set out to change the face of London coffee. Square Mile dominated the scene for many years and still now retain their mantel amongst the premiership of global roasters. Looking at the diverse London scene today it is hard to imagine how it was before Square Mile. 

The beans reviewed below arrived in elegant packaging decorated with Square Mile’s classic red and black dragon. The label includes details on producer, process, varieties, country of origin, roasting date and tasting notes. Beans are medium-light roast and fairly free from imperfections. 

Githiga AA, Kenya

This coffee, my favourite of the three, quite blew me away. This has been an exceptional season for Kenyan coffee. These beans are from Githiga in the region of Murang’a in Kenya, south of Mount Kenya, grown on small farms by Kikuyu smallholders in volcanic soil. It is a mixture of varieties SL28 and SL34, both developed by Scott Laboratories in Kenya in the 1930s. These varieties have distinct fruit flavours and have come to dominate the Kenyan market.

The dry grounds have a lovely fragrance of sweet blackcurrant, cherry and chocolate but when brewed this coffee has even more to offer. An intense raspberry flavour dominates with a blackcurrant acidity that lingers beautifully in the mouth. A syrupy sweetness balances the brew.

Varietal: SL28 and SL34 | Process: Washed | Phil's tasting notes: raspberry, more raspberry, blackcurrant

£12 for 350g via 

Filadelfia, Antigua, Guatemala

Some were fortunate to hear Marta Dalton talk about coffee production on her family’s farms last month in London. Her great, great grandfather, Mauel Matheu was one of the first coffee farmers in Antigua and the family’s deep knowledge shows in the quality of coffee produced. FInca Filadelfia is a farm just north of Antigua. The family organise coffee tours with resort accommodation at the farm (visit their website for details).

This coffee combines lots of caramel sweetness with a light creamy mouth feel. Chocolate and floral notes combine with a subtle grape acidity. The roaster’s notes list fudge and I can’t argue with that – the combination of lots of caramel with the silk mouth feel working well indeed. As it cools, a baked plum and apple fruitiness add to the mix.

Varietal: Bourbon, Caturra | Process: Washed | Phil's tasting notes: caramel, chocolate, florals, fudge, baked apple and baked plum

£11 for 350g via 

Wottona, Sidamo

Returning to the origin of Arabica, this complex washed coffee is grown at altitude by small plot farmers and processed by the Wottona Bultuma Co-operative. In Sidamo is in southwest Ethiopia. It is a complex coffee with peach and floral notes dominating but combining with subtle pineapple and apricot flavours, sugar-sweetness and a mild orange citrus acidity. Tasty.

Varietal: Mixed Heirloom| Process: Washed | Phil's tasting notes: peach, florals, apricot, pineapple, orange

£12 for 350g via 

More bean reviews: 

Bean review: Nude

Bean review: Notes

Bean review: Climpson and Sons

Bean review: Kenyans from Notes, Workshop and Horsham

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