(Yummy espresso waiting to be tasted!)
Hosted by Smiling Goat Espresso (my favourite coffee place in the city) and featuring a small craft coffee roaster: North Mountain Coffee, it was fun, entertaining and surprisingly extremely interesting.
Small craft coffee roasters are becoming increasingly popular in Canada and (unexpectedly) in Nova Scotia. As consumers are becoming hyper 'local' sensitized and wanting highly authentic experiences, the demand is enough to support smaller craft roasters. Despite the 'hipster' quotient, craft roasters often means that you are directly supporting a local business, usually assured shipping, processing and energy costs (and pollution) are low and said roaster likely practices Direct Trade (arguably even better than fair trade).
(The beautiful espresso tasting card and colourful flavour wheel!)
To be honest, Andrew and I approached this event with our fair share of trepidation. We had no idea what an 'espresso tasting' would look like. We managed to snag a few seats and were excited when we were handed beautifully printed 'Espresso Tasting' forms for feedback along with a Flavour Wheel.
(Austin Anderson, owner, being a good sport with my impromptu "Can I take your picture for my blog??" request :) )
Since I have never actually drank espresso (beyond a sip of Andrew's once) I was a little nervous about writing down my thoughts on the tasting card. Thankfully, Austin made it clear that the tasting was to share experiences, thoughts and develop our ability to perceive and analyze what we like about different flavours of espresso. So, there are no wrong 'tastes'. (phew!)
(Andrew, absorbing the smell before taking his first sip- serious business!)
It was so neat to have to articulate not only what I liked and didn't like about the four espressos, but to hear my thoughts reflected in others, or even to hear completely different reactions to the same espresso.
What really surprised me, was that espresso can have so many different flavours, roasting styles and processing methods. It was fun to find out that typically smaller craft roasters tend to roast lighter and often from single origin farms.
Our favourites were:
- Ruli (Gorilla) From Rwanda- where the farmers of these beans get around 6x more for their beans directly from roasters than 10 years ago. Taste: not at all what I think of as traditionally 'espresso'; bright and fruity but still rich feeling and delicious. These farmers recently won awards for their sustainable agriculture as well.
- Yirgacheffé (Lion) From Ethiopia- where Austin shared that the coffee trees actually grow naturally and are the most authentic area for 'wild' coffee beans; the trees are organic and heirloom varieties! Taste: rich, dark and malt-y (from a single wash process) and made us think of a really great dark stout beer.
(our card with all my notes and ratings and BOTH coffees!)
Unexpectedly, not only did we get the entire experience for free, but Austin gifted each guest with substantial free samples of North Mountain coffee! AND because Andrew and I liked two kinds, he gave us both!
Where can you buy North Mountain Coffee? Here's a list!
- Smiling Goat (Halifax)
- Steve-o-renos (Halifax)
- Local Source (Halifax)
- Kate's Pantry (Berwick)
- Union Street Cafe (Berwick)
- Designer Cafe (Kentville)
- Paper Pleasures Coffee Shop (Greenwich)
- Kiwi Cafe (Chester)
- Mateus Bistro (Mahone Bay)