At Farrer’s we are passionate about coffee and we acknowledge that there are many different opinions about what makes a good coffee.
Here are our views, based on nearly 200 years of coffee experience, on some of the common questions that are debated fiercely by coffee aficionados.
A question we are often asked, and one that is both simple and complex to respond to. The simple (but glib) answer is the coffee that you like. The more complex answer is to consider the same question in relation to another very popular drink – wine! If you were to ask anyone who is a wine lover, “what is the best wine?” you would receive an answer that is personal to their tastes. Like wine, the flavour of a coffee starts with the variety of fruit-producing plant that is used, where it is grown, how it is cultivated, processed and blended. Add to that the complexity of the water used in brewing, the brewing method, and skill of the brewer you will realise that there are infinite possibilities of tastes to sample. For more information about different types of coffee, see the Coffee Guide section (link).
One of the critical processes in making the finished drink is how the coffee beans are roasted to produce their distinctive flavour. Coffee roasting is both a science and an art, and it takes years of experience in roasting to get the best out of a particular bean. At Farrer’s we believe that there is no ‘one size fits all’ as far as roasting is concerned, and that the roast levels must be tailored for each particular type of bean in order to unlock its potential. That is why we continuously roast and taste our coffees to ensure that the coffees we develop meet the high standards for which Farrer’s has been known for nearly 200 years. We offer coffees with a full range of roast levels to appeal to all palates, and we use a combination of the roaster’s art and the latest technology to ensure that we deliver consistency of flavour, roast after roast.
Another frequently asked question is whether Single Origin coffees or blends are better. Our view on this is that whilst Single Origin coffees can produce a distinctive flavour profile, highlighting a particular aspect of the range of coffee flavours, the results produced by skilful blending can give a balance that Single Origin coffees can rarely match. This is particularly the case when the finished drink includes milk, as the careful inclusion of different beans can allow the coffee flavours to ‘cut through’ the milk to give a more balanced drink.
We love the way in which some Single Origin coffees can produce a flavour profile that compliments a particular food, or time of day, but we also love the rounded balance of a skilful blend. It is no coincidence that most of the world’s great coffees brands include a signature blend that is a closely guarded secret!
A thorny question, and one that really polarises opinion! In botanical terms, Arabica and Robusta are two of the species within the broad Coffea genus, which consists of over 120 individual species. Most of the coffee plants grown for consumption around the world consist of either the Arabica or Robusta species, and the two have quite different characteristics. Whilst it is generally the case that Arabica coffees are of a higher quality than Robustas, and produce a drink that has more sophistication and complexity, we believe that Robustas have a valuable contribution, if roasted sympathetically.
In our opinion, the addition of a proportion of a carefully selected and roasted Robusta to a blend can contribute a distinctive and valuable flavour component to a finished coffee. Whilst we would rarely serve a Robusta as a Single Origin coffee, we do not subscribe to the view that all Robustas are inferior, and only contribute an earthy or ashy flavour. For those that prefer Arabica only, we offer a range of blends that do not include Robusta coffees.
For more information about Arabica and Robusta coffees, see the Coffee Guide section.