We’ve been working side by side with UE Coffee, the only artisan wood powered coffee roastery in the UK, whose Master Roasters combine their talent and experience to bring out the optimum taste, aroma and colour from The Lucky Onion’s new, exclusive blend, a combination of beans from Brazil, Costa Rica and India. We caught up with Founder of UE Coffee, Dom Boyett, to talk all things coffee.
Tell us a little about your history with coffee…
From initially setting up my own roastery in Glasgow at the age of 19, I have spent the last 26 years on the speciality coffee scene. I have gone from owning my own business at a young age to then progressing through the ranks of an international Italian coffee brand Segafredo Zanetti where I was responsible for the UK sales and marketing operations.
After 11 years in a corporate managerial role, travelling the world and experiencing many great things, I felt it was time that I put this experience to good use and go back to what I missed and that was the passion for roasting coffee.
In 2009 it was obvious that there was an obvious gap in the local market for a premium coffee roaster in the Oxfordshire / Cotswolds market and this is where UE Coffee Roasters was born.
What made you choose to pursue the technique of wood-fire roasting?
During my time of working with Segafredo Zanetti I was privileged enough to meet a number of great coffee roasters in Italy, and one particular coffee roaster in Venice always stuck out to me.
Caffe Antica was a third generation traditional family operated coffee roaster who used a wood fired roasting process. Allesandro the grandson roasted the coffee, his farther was managing the sales and the business, the grandfather was maintaining the roaster machinery and roaster and the grandmother was in the roastery kitchen cooking pasta for the entire workforce.
This family affair and the passion they had for roasting coffee was something that I have never forgot and it gave me the idea that if I could replicate this in some way as a model, then I would be on my way of achieving something that was not only special, but unique. When researching the process of roasting coffee it was clear that most UK based coffee roasters where using an identical gas powered roasting process. Around this time the artisan coffee movement was in its infancy and I felt that there seemed little point replicating something that was already been done throughout the UK.
This is when I remembered my time in Italy and in particular with Caffe Antica and their wood fired roasting process. On researching all the roasteries in the UK it was clear that there was no other roaster in the UK using this process and this is when we decided that this is the path we would take, while at the same time instilling a sense of complete uniqueness as a business model.
Fast forward 2 years and at this point we had developed and built our very own wood powered coffee roasting systems. During this time we were asked by Oxford University if they could carry out some research on the differences of roasting coffee on gas versus wood. The research clearly demonstrated that our process was 90% more carbon efficient in emissions when compared to a similar roaster using gas. The energy we used being the naturally dried oak was also 30% more efficient when comparing it to the gas we would have to use to roast coffee.
Today this wood fired process is still very much at the heart of the business and will continue to be an integral ingredient in our success as a leading artisan coffee roaster.
What makes a great cup of coffee?
The making of espresso is both a science and an art. Over the years they have found that precision is required to make a great espresso. There are four factors that affect the making of a great shot.
They are also called the four M’s.
The first factor is Macinazione or the proper grinding of the beans. Great baristas in fact will only grind beans for an espresso right before using them. 30 seconds after they have been ground, the beans are already too stale for a good espresso. The proper grind is between fine and powdery. The grind has to be uniform in order to insure the best taste.
The second factor is Miscela or the coffee blend. Good beans means better tasting coffee.
The third factor is the Macchina or the espresso machine. Thanks to many inventors, you now have easy to use tools to help you make your espresso. But it will not magically make perfect espresso if you don’t know how to use it properly.
The last factor is Mano or the skill of the barista – that means the front of house staff at Lucky Onion. More than half the battle is knowing how to use your equipment properly. You need to know how to properly fill your filter basket. Some espresso lovers will tell you to tamp the ground coffee, others will tell you not to. Like all skills, making the perfect espresso takes practice so that every espresso has that beautiful crema that is the mark of true espresso.
What do you like most about The Lucky Onion House Blend?
Apart from the fact that this is a recipe that I had worked on some 15 years ago when working in Italy, it reminds me of my times of sitting in the square in Bologna drinking my espresso and falling in love with the hustle and bustle of Italian life.
Not only is The Lucky Onion blend sophisticated, it is also classical, unchanged by so many of the tastes and modern techniques that unfortunately make coffee drinking today complex and challenging when there is no need too.
What are your top 3 tips when making coffee at home?
There are 3 key factors for making great coffee at home.
- Use freshly filtered water straight from the tap.
- Grind your coffee fresh prior to brewing and make sure you use beans that are not any older than 2 weeks from the roast date on the bag. (No roast date then this coffee is typically not going to be as good as some roaster who put this information on the bag).
- Never use too much or too little coffee when brewing, no matter what the brew method. For all filter brewing methods the best ratio is 1g of coffee to every 15g of water or alternatively 60g of coffee to every 1 litre of water.