Bean Review: Taylor St Baristas

Bean review: Taylor St Baristas

Taylor St’s reputation for efficient service of high volume quality coffee in the City is well known. Also worth knowing is the emphasis on leisurely single origins at their Monument coffeeshop that functions as a coffee gallery as well as their high quality training provision. Founded by siblings Andrew, Nick and Laura Tolley in 2005, Taylor St is named after a road in the Darlinghurst suburb of Sydney. I first became aware of them around this time, visiting their coffee stand inside Source, a whole foods store in Richmond.

Now there are nine Taylor St coffeeshops including a new branch in Chancery Lane at 26 Southampton Buildings. They will soon open in Midtown New York. It makes sense in many ways for them to roast their own coffee. Employing Jamie Treby as head roaster seems to have been an astute move. Visiting their delightful Monument shop earlier this I had the pleasure of trying some of their own filters and a wonderful espresso from Papua New Guinea. Naturally I was delighted when I got hold of four Taylor St filter coffees to try.

The first thing to say is how much easier our lives have got with the resealable packaging that seems an industry norm now, and features on the Taylor St bags. No more sealing bags closed with sellotape or bulldog clips. Packaging also features taste notes, details of origin, varietal, process, batch number and roast date. A coloured cardboard sleeve gives more information – lots more information –think album liner notes! Enjoy cupping quality score, analogies with film stars and music tracks, poetic descriptions and the like ...although these at times are hard to read – for instance in tiny silver text on a grey background.

Much as Handsome used to classify coffee into ‘adventure’ and ‘comfort’, Taylor St labels coffee as classic, delicate, wild and select. Much to my surprise my favourite as the ‘classic’ ...

One – Classic – Rika Rika – Papua New Guinea

Oh yes, that creamy mouthfeel ...with a white wine acidity, orange spice and a hint of milk chocolate, this is a delightful coffee. In Papua New Guinea (PNG) coffee is an important source of income for smallholders.  The Rika Rika Cooperative Society was formed in 2004 in the Eastern Highlands and rapidly expanded to include 129 members. The region seems perfect for coffee with plentiful rain, fertile volcanic soil and high altitude. Use of chemical fertilisers and insecticides is unnecessary. Mercanta have imported this coffee which is really worth seeking out.

Varietal: Arusha, Bourbon and Typica| Process: Washed| Phil's tasting notes: white wine, orange, spice, milk chocolate (Jamie mentions tamarind and he is correct but I can’t take credit for that)

£9 for 250g from Taylor St

Two – Delicate – Finca Veracruz – Colombia

This delicious coffee had a distinct lime theme happening: cupping and brewing I was reminded of chocolate lime hard candy, key lime pie, lime juice... there was also plenty of chocolate happening  - a good balance of sweetness and acidity. Taylor St also describe hibiscus, kaffir lime and blackcurrant. Veracruz is located in Antioquia – the birthplace of coffee production in Colombia. Established in 1980, the farm have worked with Mercanta since 2011 and apply a great deal of science to their coffee production. They also employ 60 people all year round and provide free accommodation.

Varietal: Colombia, Caturra| Process: Washed| Phil's tasting notes: lime, key lime pie, chocolate lime hard candy, chocolate

£9 for 250g from Taylor St

Three – Wild – Gems of Araku  Lot C1 - India

It might have a name like an Indiana Jones film or a smartphone game but this coffee deserves respect. This coffee is from the Araku Valley, inhabited by indigenous tribes – the earliest residents of India and has seen a Naandi Foundation programme that raised quality of life, provided education, healthcare and fresh water and helped the development of a farming co-operative spanning 800 villages with equal pay for women. It’s a very special Indian coffee.

Not as wild as many Indian naturals this is much preferable to Monsoon Malabar and the like with their farmyard flavours. This complex coffee had notes of figs and juicy red apple.

Varietal: Cauvery, SLN5, SLN4| Process: Natural| Phil's tasting notes: figs, red apple

£9 for 250g from Taylor St

Select – Geisha – Kotowa  Mandarina - Panama

And a geisha! This is a delicate and delicious coffee that deserves to be served in choice crockery. The dry grounds hinted at spice but when brewed or cupped this was tea-like with a light mouthfeel and notes of jasmine, honey and lemongrass with hints of ginger cake and a subtle fruitiness Taylor St identify as papaya.

Kotowa meaning mountain in the local language is grown at Finca Don K, a farm that takes environmental sustainability fully into account with a mill that uses less water and produces by-products that are used as a natural fertiliser. The farm takes steps to protect the virgin forests surrounding it and have planted more than 500 indigenous trees. Panama has more bird species than all of North America and Europe together.

Varietal: Geisha| Process: washed| Phil's tasting notes: jasmine, lemongrass, honey, ginger cake, papaya

£12 for 250g from Taylor St

Since this was written, some new coffees are available including a delicious Cyiya from Rwanda and stocks of some of the above might be low but you should be able to find most in your nearest Taylor St location. Notably, Chancery Lane has a self-serve sample bar to try filters before you buy.

April 14, 2016 — Best Coffee