On Hallowed Ground


Myself and my blogging missus Ruth were recently invited to a coffee lab hosted by the kind folks at Ground. I've mentioned this company before, having serendipitously stumbled upon them last year. As much as I like coffee, I have to admit I was a little naive to the actual journey from bean to blend to barista.

Our venue was the comfy surroundings of the Waterstones Belfast branch and our host for the evening was manager Michael. Michael gave us a brief background intro to himself, describing his past experience in independent coffee sales and hosting similar events for coffee aficionados before stepping back to the comparative security of the corporate coffee culture. This move did nothing to diminish his passion for the product and his wealth of knowledge was fascinating.

Prior to this event, I viewed baristas a slightly more diverse waiter. I was ignorant to the exacting specifications that goes into making the cups of coffee we take for granted.

For example; did you know an espresso brews for exactly 22 seconds? I didn't.

flat white
We were introduced to the true concept of filter coffee - this is not the stuff you may be used to stewing and brewing away in the office percolator. (I think this is often the reason why people say they don't like coffee; they've just never had a good one.) With a bit of flair from a copper and wood aeropress, he explained the principles of saturation, filtration and brewing. This is a craft, not just a case of boiling the kettle and filling your mug.

in love with the rustic aeropress 
snapped taking snaps
Coffee can be seen as a parallel to wine; the end product is dependent on so many external factors; the climate, the soil, the altitude. In the same sense, the aeration and temperature are key too. I've often been critical of ordering a coffee and it being, to my palette, cold. (This due to my uncouth habits of necking boiling buckets of tea and coffee at home.) A drink served with boiling water will have scalded the coffee which will simply imper the flavour. This doesn't apply to a tepid mug of coffee-themed milk you might expect from certain chains....

Michael also told us he had just returned from a trip to Honduras to meet the farmers who produce the beans that go into so many of the blends Ground offers, including their exclusive Purple Dragon blend. It's often the independent that will go this extra mile to know the origins and ethics of their products, something that's sometimes overlooked in larger companies.

Thanks again to the team at Ground for hosting us and for giving us such an enjoyable and informative evening. I am now trawling eBay for a coffee grinder, drip kettle and some new coffee cups!

*all images property of rogues+brogues and willow lane

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