I am just brewing a pot of my new fave coffee. To be honest the flavour is strange & not what we are used to from a cup of coffee, but that is exactly the point. It is extremely fruity, sour even. It makes Becky shudder. I love it & am keen to explore the possibilities of this world of gourmet coffee. I bought it from FCP Coffee in Bristol, their coffee is very special and I recommend a visit if you are ever in the area.
A few months ago I was reading the World Atlas of Coffee (a fascinating read) & wishing I could taste some of the new happenings in the world of coffee. I was reading the book in Kerala, so no chance to try cold press, siphons or any of the other fancy new brewing techniques, special region beans or carefully roasted specialties.
I spent my first week back in the UK visiting Becky in her new home in Bristol. I have to say I am really impressed with the city & it has a wonderful food scene. We ate a lot, visited some lovely places, it was just what I needed to beat the post-India blues.
Becky was keen to take me for some special coffee. Full Court Press was my first chance to experience this new trend in coffee. I was not disappointed. The coffee was magical & wonderfully strange & I was hooked.
I returned to Bristol for another visit last week as we are planning our first supper club. Becky asked me if there was anything in particular I wanted to do, & the only thing was to go back to FCP for more coffee.
This time the owner Matt was there & we got to chat to him all about brewing methods and why his coffee tastes so amazing. Firstly, let me describe some of the coffees we tasted, because they are nothing like a bog standard cup. This was more like wine tasting, with different beans producing completely different flavours, according to how they are brewed and whether you add milk.
During our first visit I had ordered an espresso which was really sour & fruity. It did not taste like any coffee I had experienced before & I loved it. I was so intrigued I asked for the same coffee, but with milk, so that I could see the difference. It was incredible. The milk almost completely changed the taste to something malty & chocolatey, with sour notes around the edge of the tongue.
Our second trip was pure indulgence, I think we tried four, maybe even five, different coffees brewed in a number of ways. We started with a Kenyan bean, brewed with a cold press and also a hot cup of the same bean brewed with a filter. Matt explained how the heat changes the flavours and he was totally right.
When brewed using a filter the flavour notes were fruity, full of heady blackcurrant notes. When made using cold press the notes were like treacle or molasses. Both were delicious. Cold press produces a sweeter, less acidic drink. It was served chilled and as it warmed up the taste changed, it seemed like every sip was different – magic!
Becky ordered a filter, I can’t remember the name but she was drawn to the main flavour – candyfloss. It was the sweetest coffee we have ever tasted & even served black did not need any sugar at all. Becky says she feels like she had never really drunk coffee before visiting FCP – that’s how different their drinks are to your average latte or americano.
The last one we tried was from Ethiopia – Chelelektu – we tried it with & without milk. The board said we could expect preserved lemons, cardamom & even tea flavours without the milk, changing to cinnamon & malt once milk was added. Of all the coffees we have now tasted at Full Court Press this was by far the strangest, it did not even taste that much like “coffee” (or what we expect coffee to taste like).
The espresso was so deeply darkly intense that we almost found it a little too much, but at the same time could not stop tasting it. With milk I found it far more enjoyable, but still very intense. At this point we had to hurriedly leave as we had not eaten all morning & had given ourselves the shakes with all the caffeine!
(Side note – we went to Matina in St Nick’s Market for chicken wraps and they were amazingly good. Definitely one to visit if you’re ever in Bristol)
I bought a bag of the beans of the intense Chelelektu, because I want to try to cook with it. The flavours are complex & I imagine that with different ingredients it will change completely. This is the coffee I am currently drinking.
Made with my stove top espresso pot it is not as intense, but still very interesting & when black it is really sour with spicy top notes. With milk it is much mellower & has the most wonderful aftertaste. I am going to try to make some desserts with it & maybe a coffee rubbed steak.
Full Court Press…
If you are in Bristol I highly recommend a trip to Full Court Press. Matt has been in the coffee industry for fifteen years & knows his stuff.
He works with a carefully chosen group of roasters to get the best brews and the menu changes every couple of weeks. He buys small quantities of beans and once they are gone a new batch arrives and the menu changes so unless you visit every day you wont drink the same thing twice. The beans are fresh and are roasted with a light touch, which affects the flavour, keeping in the fruitiness of the bean.
I love this concept. For those of us who love new experiences, especially of the gastronomic kind it is the perfect coffee shop. He also has some wicked machines. I think many of them were invented years ago but have been experiencing a renaissance with the interest in specialist coffees. Plus, Matt and all the staff are really lovely and happy to answer lots of questions from people who don’t know much about coffee – like us!
Next time I visit I intend to try a cup brewed using the siphon or vacuum machine. It looks well Heston. All theatrical & scientific at the same time. Different brewing methods are used for different types of coffee according to which characteristics you want to bring out. I really enjoyed the sweetness of the cold press & most of us know the strength of espresso, so I am looking forward to seeing what the siphon can do.
It occurs to me that, paradoxically, the high-tech approach to brewing coffee actually helps us taste it in a more natural way. Rather than the uniformity of the mass produced “coffee” flavoured beans we are used to drinking now we can taste the difference between beans from different areas.
It really is like the difference between a glass of tropical fruity Sauvignon Blanc versus an oaky, buttery Chardonnay. The various characteristics produced from a variety of climates, soil types and different coffee plants can be fully experienced with these new brewing methods and expertise. They are surprising and delicious, you should try them.
p.s. if you are reading this and you’re in Bristol then you might want to know about our first ever event – a supperclub on the riverside on 6th June. Read more here.