We’re super proud that every single drop of Nitro Cold Brew coffee you drink is made by us, by hand, in Hackney. It’s the only way to guarantee quality, consistency and freshness for all you thirsty people!
You can’t make great coffee without great coffee beans.
We source the finest in-season coffees, roast and brew them ourselves to have control over the entire process and to guarantee the quality that we expect when drinking Minor Figures coffee.
1. Coffees have seasons?
While we eat fruits and vegetables from all over the world, all year round in the UK, they only grow in certain regions at certain times - the same goes for coffee. There are two main seasons, May-October and November-April when coffee is harvested across the world.
Credit: The Captain's coffee
You’re only as good as your last coffee.
— Giles, Master Brewer
3. How we select our coffee
We use different coffee beans to make our Nitro Cold Brews (Latte, Mocha, Black) so we gather a selection of in-season green coffee samples. Our selections are driven by what flavour profile we desire. Things that contribute to a coffee’s flavour profile:
- Origin/ Region
- Coffee Species
- Processing (washed/ natural/ pulped natural/ honey/ etc)
- Handling (bagging/ storage)
You can make good coffee bad
but not bad coffee good.
It impacts the flavour by way of soil ‘Terroir’, geography, altitude, climate (sun, wind, rainfall). For example - High altitude coffee generally grows slower and contains less caffeine, which leads to more complex, characterful flavours and less bitterness (from the reduced caffeine content).
Ethiopian coffee often has stone fruit and tea-like flavours, while Kenyan coffee can taste just like blackcurrant and many Brazilian coffees taste like chocolate, nuts and caramel.
The two most popular species of coffee are ‘Arabica’ and ‘Robusta’. We use only Arabica because the high caffeine content of Robusta, about twice that of the Arabica leads to too much bitterness for our tastes.
Characteristics associated with good, high grown arabica coffee include acidity, fruit flavours and sweetness. Robusta grows readily at low altitude and can be characterised by it’s harsh, bitter taste.
Varietals? Think of it in wine terms. Both Chardonnay and Reisling are types of grape, but have key differences when it comes to how they look and taste. The environment a particular variety of grape or coffee is grown in has a big impact on the flavours it will exhibit.
It is widely believed Arabica originated in the highlands of Ethiopia and all the varietals on the image below are either the result of naturally occurring mutations or hybrids created by us to increase disease resistance, crop yield, and tolerance to stresses.
After the ripe cherries are picked they must be processed, this process can be described as washed, natural, or pulped natural/ honey.
A washed coffee is dried having had all of the cherry fruit removed from the bean, the result is a cleaner flavour with a truer representation of what flavours are found within the bean - one for the purists.
A natural coffee is dried with the cherry fruit left on the bean, leading to exceptional sweetness but sometimes inconsistent flavours.
A pulped natural/ honey coffee has seen some but not all of the cherry fruit removed and can lead to high sweetness whilst offering a cleaner experience than a natural coffee.
Some coffees age better than others but we try our best to get the freshest coffee we can depending on crop harvests. An old coffee can lose its vibrancy and taste a bit ‘woody’. The aging process can be exacerbated with poor storage conditions.
We work with excellent green bean importers who have long-established and proven networks in transporting green coffee from origin and can guarantee the quality of the coffee they supply at all stages. We look for coffee that is packed in ‘Grainpro’ bags to protect the coffee against moisture damage, insects, moulds, and preserve its freshness.
My job is basically to not fuck up all the work done beforehand. — James, Head of Production
This stage plays an important role in enhancing and showcasing the inherent flavours that a particular coffee has. We will look into this process in more detail in another blog post.
We must roast the coffee sympathetically. To us this means a ‘light’ roast. It is very easy to undo all the good work done at the farm, roasting too dark will introduce undesirable ‘roasty’ flavours that mask the true flavour of the coffee.
4. What flavour we’re after in our Nitro Cold Brews
We use different beans throughout the year based on what’s in season, so the taste of our Nitro Cold Brews will change accordingly. You can find out more about the coffee we used on the back of the can. Through experience, we have managed to narrow the selection criteria for the Latte, Mocha, and Black Nitro Cold Brew, although we keep an open mind for alternatives.
Black – we want to showcase a vibrant, floral & fruity coffee. Often we find ourselves selecting washed Ethiopian coffee from the Sidamo Province as it offers everything we love in a black coffee but we are open to anything that tastes great cold!
Mocha/ Latte – we want a coffee that compliments the oat milk and chocolate. There is no point using a high acidity, floral coffee with oat milk or chocolate. So we usually opt for a coffee that is sweet, nutty, and chocolatey. Often this happens to be a pulped natural Brazilian coffee.