7 Mar 2018

Espresso Matters

A new espresso machine and a new house blend for JB.

When we refurbished Joseph Benjamin in January we rebuilt the bar (kind-of unavoidable when you have to replace the joists beneath it!) and also decided that the time had come to replace the espresso machine. The old one was a beaut’ and had served us well for ten years, but, well, the spirit of the whole refurb project was improving standards, focusing on the details and making sure things were done just right. Coffee is as important as everything else, so deserves due attention.

We’d been loyal to the same coffee beans for years, and despite being very attached to it we thought it’s good to see what else is out there.

Coffee is an important part of life at JB. We all enjoy the taste, and sometimes it feels more like a necessity! It’s one of life’s little luxuries and having a bad coffee can be soul destroying; we never want to destroy anyone’s soul.

One rainy afternoon in January, Richard and I went to visit Adams and Russell roastery in Birkenhead to choose some different beans for our house coffee. Firstly, thank you to Tristan for looking after us (including lending me a tres chic jacket!!). We met Tom, the head roaster, and tried not to distract him too much from his work. We saw the different varieties of Arabica beans and talked about different processes which happen at coffee plantations.

Just for a little overview, coffee is grown between the tropics. It needs a bit of warmth and some healthy soil. The taste can often be indicative of origin; of course this is not a rule but generally African coffees are fresh, acidic and exotic in taste, those from Latin America have notes of chocolate & nuttiness and Asian coffees, such as Sumatran are dark with deep cocoa. It’s a bit like wine in the way the geography has a big impact on the beans: slopes, shade, soil all impact the flavour. After harvest there are a multitude of processes which can influence the taste. The ‘roast’ of a coffee is extremely important. Dark roasts (literally darker beans as a result of longer roasting) give a big punch, whereas light roasts are more delicate and work well for a lighter style. Roasting even a minute longer can drastically affect taste, and there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ formula - the optimum roast will vary. Grinding is also important: beans start to lose their flavour once they’ve been ground (why we grind to order). Just a few of the reasons your daily cup can differ so greatly.


After far too much caffeine and coffee chat, we chose a Peruvian-dominated blend. It’s nicely rounded with hints of chocolate, vanilla and dried fruits. The roast is medium which isn’t too dark or heavy so doesn’t fully assault the senses, but it still gives you a kick. It makes a lovely espresso and works well with milk too: a good all-rounder.

You may also see some guest coffee’s featured from time to time. Because it’s good to try new things.

See you soon for a cup.