Once I got my hands on my Sage DTP, I knew that the old Lavazza bricks just wouldn’t cut it. At the time I really thought I enjoyed the coffee that I could produce with the old machine and the finely ground dark roasted beans. But on reflection I think that I just preferred it to all of the instant I had drank in the past.
Before buying the new machine I had spent a lot of time on coffeeforums.co.uk, which is an exceptional resource for real-time advice and chatter about all things coffee. I learned some things that are obvious in hindsight but hadn’t even crossed my mind. The first thing was the water. The water you use in your coffee will change the way your coffee tastes. Hard and soft water will have an impact. One recommendation which I have taken on board and used ever since is to use Tesco Ashbeck mineral water. There are far better resources out there for explaining why Ashbeck is suitable, but it’s basically because it is low in the minerals which cause limescale build-up.
But another recommendation has been huge for my enjoyment of coffee. Only ever use freshly roasted beans.
Supermarket coffee is bad coffee
Have you ever looked at the bottom of a bag of supermarket coffee? There’s a date on there, and it’s the best before date. So you might think that as long as you use that coffee by that date you’ll get a good cup every morning. Sadly, you’d be wrong. Coffee is at its best somewhere between seven days and two months after roasting. A best before date is usually set 12 months from the date that the coffee was packed. So unless that best before date is ten months or so into the future then you’ve got stale coffee. Sorry! It’s even worse if your coffee is pre-ground: a higher surface area means that the beans become stale more quickly. It was probably stale before it hit the shelf. I was in John Lewis earlier, and even their own brand is hopeless in this regard.
As a rule of thumb: if there is no roast date on the bag then avoid it like the plague. You will have wasted your money and you’ll think that the rubbish coffee you’re drinking is down to you. It probably is, but the coffee won’t have helped.
Enter Pact Coffee. Pact have used some aggressive marketing – and fierce customer loyalty and promotion – to get themselves all over the internet. If you show an interest in coffee on Facebook then you’ll probably get a targeted ad at some point.
Pact were the very coffee roaster from whom I ordered, and I’m very fond of them. They asked me to pay a measly quid for my first bag, I agreed, and they shortly after sent me a bag of freshly roasted beans in a package slim enough to fit through my letterbox. I received an email to tell me the beans had been roasted and posted, and the next day they landed on my doormat. I had them sent to me as an espresso grind [do as I say, not as I do…], which was so fine it clogged the machine. No problem – they sent me a new bag free of charge. Since that time they’ve been on my regular rotation of roasters. Their customer service is second to none, and I have a story on just that subject. But that will have to wait for another time.
In truth Pact is just one of dozens of UK roasters who can give you a far better coffee experience than anything you’ll find on a supermarket shelf, for a fair price that’s not much more expensive than the stale stuff. That’s why getting your beans roasted and posted is the only way.
[Want to give Pact a go? Go to http://www.pactcoffee.com/sign-up?voucher=GLS to get £5 off your first order. First-timers can’t go wrong with their Fruit and Nut Espresso.]