Victoria Arduino 388 Black Eagle & other new toys

We've had a few new exciting coffee toys arrive in Brew Lab over the last few weeks, the most notable being our new espresso machine - the Nuova SimonelliVictoria Arduino 388 Black Eagle. The Black Eagle is moving onto the bar while The Slayer will be moving to a new project that we're developing to be revealed in a few months.

The Black Eagle is a beautiful re-design of Nuova Simonelli's highly respected espresso machine, the Aurelia II T3. It brings all the temperature stability and precision that we are familiar with from the Slayer, but with some extra technology that will help us to ensure our espresso is consistently the best it possibly can be.

We have also got a new espresso grinder on our bar - Nuova Simonelli's Mythos One Clima Pro, which solves a significant amount of problems that have existed in espresso grinders for a long time. The Mythos One has an an intelligent milling chamber temperature management system, which helps to negate the issues you experience when your grinder burrs heat up due to lots of coffee grinding, or cool down due to infrequent grinding. This, coupled with a few other ingenious innovations such as vertical burrs, and a sloping hopper will help to ensure we're consistently producing delicious coffee quickly.

Our new brew bar grinder, the Mahlkoenig EK43 has been introduced to improve the quality of our filter coffee, and open up new possibilities for a larger variety of guest espresso at Brew Lab. The EK43 has huge burrs, positioned vertically which help to create an extremely consistent grind - vital for making perfectly extracted filter coffee.

We love talking about coffee making kit at Brew Lab, so if you have any questions feel free to ask us in the cafe.

El Salvador Finca La Illusion Natural Bourbon

This Sunday we will be preparing a very unique coffee from El Salvador for the Super Secret Sunday Syphon Society.

Country of origin: El Salvador

Region: Apaneca-Ilamatepec Mountain Range

Farm: 3.5 hectares

Varieties: Bourbon

Process: Natural

Brewing method: Syphon

This coffee comes from a farm called La Ilusion that borders one of the most important national parks in El Salvador, known as 'Los Andes'. The farm sits on the Santa Ana Volcano and is packed with dense pine and cypress forest, both of which provide La Ilusion with a very unique micro-climate.

La Ilusion was bought by a man named Ernesto in 2006 and has coffee trees averaging 19 years of age. Ernesto ensures that the farm is run using environmentally friendly practices in order to support the unique surroundings which form part of a natural fauna corridor that is crucial to migratory and native birds.

This coffee was used by the 2011 World Barista Champion Alejandro Mendez, and Steve Leighton - head of Has Bean Coffee - says it is one of his top three coffees of all time. It's easy to see why; it has incredible notes of creamy strawberry milkshake, red velvet cake and spicy liquorice.

Although we often choose delicate, clean and elegant coffees for our Syphon offerings at Brew Lab, this coffee represents an entirely different proposition. It is an intense, full bodied natural that has incredible body and a resonant finish. We are sure our customers will love this prized and distinctive coffee as much as we do.

El Salvador Finca Escocia SL-28 Washed Cup of Excellence

This Sunday we have a very exciting coffee on our brew bar for one day only - El Salvador Finca Escocia SL-28 Washed Cup of Excellence.

Country of origin: El SalvadorRegion: UsulutanFarm: Escocia - Caledonia S.AVarieties: SL-28Process: WashedBrewing method: Syphon

The farm where this coffee originates from was initially boughtbya Scotsman named Henry Adams Butter, who came to El Salvador from Dundee at the end of the 1800s. This is where the farms name - Escocia - comes from. The farm is now owned by Henry's granddaughter, Johanna.

The most interesting thing about this coffee is that it is an SL-28 varietal. SL-28 is usually only found in Africa, most commonly in Kenya. However, some farmers - including Johanna - have decided to experiment by planting SL-28 in Central Southern America. This coffee is a stunning example of how continued experimentation at origin can help to produce some truly unique coffees.

This is the first time in a few years that Has Bean have chosen to exclusively buy a Cup of Excellence lot. The Cup of Excellence is a stringent selection process and competition held in coffee producing countries. Around sixty of the best samples from each country are put before an international jury made up of some of the most influential coffee buyers in the world. The top ten samples are then sent to an internet auction and sold to the highest bidder.

This coffee is exceptionally sweet and smooth, a classic quality that we tend to associate with coffees from El Salvador. However, this coffee has an awful lot of depth and complexity. After an initial milk chocolate sweetness, it develops into a delicious acidity of tropical fruits and papaya.

We are preparing this coffee on Syphon this Sunday in order to highlight its delicate acidity and to accentuate the creamy body and mouthfeel. We are excited to offer our customers the chance to taste this unique coffee and hope you enjoy it as much as we have.

Cold Brew, Cascara Soda and other cold things

Cold Brew Coffee The hot weather is very much here and when its scorching cold brew is the order of the day. Our cold brew coffee was so popular last year we decided to bottle it this year.

The cold brew is steeped over night for 16 hours in cold water. The long, cold extraction creates a really balanced and naturally sweet coffee to refresh you when you're sweltering on a hot Edinburgh day in the meadows. We don't put anything in it other than single origin coffee from Has Bean, and our wonderful Edinburgh water.

At the moment, we have Has Bean's Costa Rica Finca De Licho bottled - we get a huge amount of chocolate, peanuts and butterscotch and it's low in acidity - which perfectly contrasts the Kenya Kii Peaberry we're using for iced pour-overs at the moment.

Iced Pour-Over 

Iced pour-overs are back again after being really popular last year. Over the summer we'll be brewing light, fruity and acidic Kenyans, Ethiopians and whatever else is tasty.

We use the same Kalita Waves for our iced pour-overs that we use for all our brewed coffees, but we brew a concentrate that is then diluted when poured over ice.

The pour-over method brings a lot of flavour clarity that really helps the coffee shine. We're currently brewing a Kenyan Kii Peaberry from Tate Coffee Roasters which gives us sweet mango, cranberry and chocolate mousse.

Dry-hopped Cascara & Apricot Soda

Cascara is the dried fruit of the coffee cherry - the fruit from which we get the coffee bean. We serve cascara tea in Brew Lab and last year we were making cascara & elderflower iced tea.

This year we decided to take it to the next level. We're cold brewing cascara & apricots over night - this results in a sweet brew with notes of marmalade, apricot and apple. We then dry-hop the brew with American Liberty hops which are relatively low in acidity. This adds a subtle, refreshing citrus bitterness to the brew.

Then the cascara is served from a soda siphon to create a lightly sparkling soda. It's super unusual, but extremely delicious.

Iced Lattes & Mochas

As with last year, our iced lattes & mochas are back for those who need something milky and sweet in the hot weather. We're using our amazing milk blend from Has Bean for both and in iced lattes there's a wonderful strawberry angel delight flavour coming from the naturally processed Nicaragua Finca Limoncillo.

Ewan's 2014 UK Barista Championship Diary

Ewan Osprey Allan UKBC 2014

Here's Ewan Osprey-Allen to tell us about his 2014 UKBC experience - find Ewan on Twitter @GlasgowBarista As some of you may have noticed on Brew Lab's Twitter and Facebook feeds, I’ve been competing in this year's UK Barista Championship. It has been months of hard work, late nights and practice sessions to hardened groups of friends who have been "judging" my presentations. After the initial heat in Birmingham in January, I made it through to the semi-final at the London Coffee Festival in early April. The UK has one of the best coffee competition cultures in the world, so the standards were very high. In the end I finished tenth in the UK and second in Scotland.

ukbc, barista, coffee, edinburgh

The competition takes the format of a fifteen minute presentation. Each competitor serves four judges an espresso, cappuccino and a "Signature Beverage" which is a non-alcoholic cocktail designed to enhance the flavour of the espresso. You are judged on a variety of factors ranging from your presentation skills to your tidiness, cleanliness and the taste of your coffee. Your coffee needs to taste exactly the way you have described it. My coffee tasted of malt, toffee and Reese's peanut butter cups. In theory, you don't need to serve something tasty - if your espresso tastes of rotten eggs and battery acid and you describe that flavour accurately, you will do very well!

When it comes to the sensory side of things, the judges are looking to score the competitors on three categories - taste, flavour and tactile. Taste and flavour are quite different things and so the challenge is to be able to differentiate between those and communicate them appropriately in order to maximise points. Taste is the balance between sweetness, acidity and bitterness. My coffee had a caramel sweetness, a slight cocoa powder bitterness and a tangerine and green grape acidity. As previously mentioned, it had toffee, peanut butter cup and malt flavours. Nearly half of your points are scored in tactile. There are a lot of words bandied around to help make tactile descriptions easier, words like smooth and round. I looked back on previous year’s winners for an example of what descriptors have been used in the past. James Hoffmann, who won the World Championship in 2007, described his espresso as feeling like hot buttered toast with plum jam. That seemed a bit far-fetched to me but I spoke to one of the judges who sat during his presentation and he said it felt exactly like that! My tactile descriptions were that it coated your teeth like olive oil, was light like and Aero bar and stuck to the roof of your mouth like peanut butter. In both rounds I scored well on tactile so it must have worked!

Finding a good competition coffee is hard. It needs to have some clear flavours but it also needs to be flexible. What I mean by this is that it should taste of your descriptions if you serve it with a slight change in any given variable. For example, if you want to serve an espresso that extracted in 25 seconds but on the day you accidentally serve one that took a little longer (trust me - it is hard to focus on every little detail on the day!) your coffee should be able to deal with that slight adjustment in recipe. I tasted a lot of samples that our main roasters - Has Bean - sent us at Brew Lab. I settled on a coffee from a farm in Bolivia called Canton Uyunese. It was of the Typica variety so was bound to be very sweet. It had at least three clear flavours and tasted wonderful with milk. I’m not much of a milk drinker but I found myself finishing the Cappuccino every time I tasted it!

The next challenge was coming up with a signature drink. I wanted to focus on the coffee's acidity for my drink - it was complex but very soft. My plan was to exaggerate what acids I tasted in the cup and so I diluted 0.33g malic, 0.33g tannic and 0.1g citric acid in water and then a few teaspoonfuls of a sweet liquid malt extract in order to firstly balance the acid out, but also to serve as a nod to the sweetness of the Typica variety. I poured a dash of that solution onto the coffee and served it in a small whisky snifter that I got ahold of at Highland Park in Orkney (as well as coffee, whisky is a weakness of mine!).

As for the presentation - it is normally my strong suit and I scored very well at this in the first round. For whatever reason, I let the pressure get to me a little for the semi-final and I was a bit nervous. Normally I can bluff my way through it but my shaky hands gave the game away to the judges! It’s very hard to stay focused with cameras, a big crowd and very hot stage lights and in the end, I gave a presentation that felt a little under par.

My goal at the start of the process was to reach the semi-finals, which I managed to do. My revised goal for the next round was to reach the final, which sadly I didn’t quite manage on the day. Tenth in the UK is still a good effort and I’m very happy to have been able to represent Brew Lab and Scotland in such a good light. The eventual winner was Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood from Colonna and Smalls in Bath. He is one of the most passionate baristas I have ever met and an ideal representative for the UK coffee community when he goes to the World Championships in Rimini later this year.

Photos and video from the semi-final will go up online in the near future and I will post them on my Twitter feed when they do.

Brazil Fazenda Ambiental Fortazela & Ethiopia Workye Shallo

drop coffee

We have two exciting new coffees on this week from Drop Coffee in Stockholm. Drop Coffee were established in 2007 and have been roasting some really incredible coffee ever since then. I visited their roastery and cafe in Stockholm last year and was very impressed with their meticulous approach to every aspect of coffee preparation. We are delighted to be working with them and hope our customers enjoy these coffees as much as we have.  Brazil Fazenda Ambiental Fortazela

Country of origin: Brazil Region: Mt. Mogiana Producer: Barretto family Varieties: Obata Process: Natural Brewing method: Espresso

Over the last few years, the farmers at Fazenda Ambiental Fortalexa have started to work with raised beds, where the coffee can dry in a thinner layer. This allows for a more even and quicker drying process in the first five days, before the coffee is moved to a patio for a slower drying process. This helps to avoid the overly “funky” and slightly fermented taste endemic in a lot of naturally processed coffees.

This coffee is of the Obata varietal, and this varietal has developed a resistance towards the devastating plant disease – leaf rust - that has ravaged so many farms in recent years. This varietal is – genetically speaking – 95% Arabica, and 5% Robusta. Although Robusta is something of a sacrilegious word to many speciality coffee professionals, this varietal displays an impressively dense body and a delicate tangerine acidity when roasted by talented roasting teams like the one at Drop Coffee.

This coffee displays strong aromas of strawberries and hazelnut, and has a creamy mouthfeel and medium body. It has an intense toffee sweetness and a lovely strawberry acidity.

workye shallow

Ethiopia Workye Shallo

Country of origin: Ethiopia Region: Devo, Yirgacheffe Varieties:Mixed Heirloom Process: Washed Brewing method: Kalita Wave

This coffee is a great example of a sustainable cooperation between coffee roasters and individual farmers that is inherently focused on the goal of achieving high quality coffee. This coffee has been produced under the One Farmer, One Roaster project pioneered by Nordic approach. Under this project, farmers in Yirgacheffe are able to produce, sell and export their coffees as single estate coffees. The project has allowed farmers to invest in micro mills, meaning they no longer have to send their cherries to the cooperatives in Yirgacheffe, where they would normally be pulped along with hundreds of other farms produce. This has resulted in a closer focus on picking, ripeness, processing and drying, all of which can be tasted in the complexity and elegance of this coffee.

Drop Coffee visited Workye in October last year, taking part in a ceremony where they handed over the extra dollar per kilo of Workye's coffee that they had bought during the year. The One Farmer, One Roaster project is a very exciting one as it has the potential to change the way speciality coffee in Ethiopia is produced and sold.

This coffee has aromas of black tea and peach, with a soft apricot acidity and delicate notes of bergamot and hibiscus.


New coffee: Costa Rica Los Manantiales & Ethiopia Kebel Kercha Guji


Two amazing new coffees on the brew bar this week. Mark has written a blog post to tell you all about them: Costa Rica Los Manantiales Honey Process

Country of origin: Costa Rica Region: Tarrazu Producer: Esnider Rodriguez Varieties: Villa Sarchi Process: Yellow Honey Process Brewing method: v60

This coffee comes from The Barn roastery in Berlin and we are very excited to have it on our brew bar. The Barn roastery opened in September 2012 and is run by Ralf Ruller. With a meticulous focus on sustainability, traceability and quality, the Barn has quickly become one of the most revered coffee roasters in Europe.

The Barn use a 1955 Probat Roast machine that has been overhauled with direct engines, a large cooling tray and an environmentally friendly natural air filtration system.

The Los Manantiales is a reference to the many springs that are located on the farm that has been run by Esnider Rodriguez for over 20 years. The farm is only 14 hectares in size, allowing Esnider and his sister to focus on producing coffee of an amazing quality. This coffee is grown at an altitude of 1700 metres under perfect farming conditions and an enviable climate.

This coffee has been honey processed, with perfectly ripe coffee cherries being pulped and the mucilage left on. The honey process uses no water and is thus a very environmentally friendly processing method.

The Barn have a rather light roast style that really allows the Los Manantiales to shine. We find this coffee has a lot of flavour clarity and a syrupy sweetness, with notes of honey covered nuts.

Ethiopia Kebel Kercha Guji Natural

Country of origin: Ethiopia Region: Sidamo Processing station: Kebal Kercha Varieties: Typica and heirloom varietals Process: Natural process and sundried Brewing method: Chemex

This was one of our favourite coffees from last year and this years roast from Has Bean has surpassed our expectations. While last years Kebal Kercha Guji Natural was intensely funky and a bit polarising for some customers, this years roast tastes cleaner and more well rounded. It has a sherbet like mouthfeel and an intense sweetness, with very clear notes of blueberry both on the nose and the palette.

This coffee is grown in the Sidamo region of Ethiopia at an altitude of 1900 – 2100 metres above sea level. The natural process is done by selecting the ripest cherries, drying them on raised beds for 6-8 weeks until the cherry is completely dried. It is then removed and shipped as parchment to the ECX (Ethiopian Commodity Exchange).

This coffee is a real favourite amongst the staff here at BrewLab and we hope that our customers enjoy it as much as we do.

Brew Lab & BBC@Potterrow

BBC Festival logo

We're fast approaching our first Edinburgh Festival and we have some very exciting news that we will be running a pop-up coffee bar at the BBC@Potterrow venue throughout August.

We'll be opening up on the 2nd August in a wooden chalet decked out with a 3 group Slayer Espresso Machine and pulling our custom house blend from Has Bean. We'll also have a Marco Filtro Shuttle there to serve amazing single origin filter coffee, fast.

As well as serving delicious Has Bean coffee, we'll have tea from Jon at Pekoe Tea, amazing tray bakes from our friends at Lovecrumbs, pastries from Le Petit Francais and porridge from the guys at Stoats.

We look forward to seeing you at Venue 25 in August for a coffee.

New coffee: El Salvador Finca San Cayetano, Kenya Thunguri AA & Sumatra Wahana Natural

el salv kenya

We have lots of tasty coffee in at the moment for Edinburgh. El Salvador, Finca San Cayetano, Natural, Bourbon  Country of origin: El Salvador Region: Santa Ana Farm: Finca San Cayetano Varieties: Bourbon Process: Natural Roaster: Has Bean Brewing method: V60 Tasting notes: rum & rasin, blueberry, sherry

Bourbon is a traditional variety of El Salvador and is characterised by a very sweet profile. When combined with natural processing, like this example, we get a really interesting coffee. There is lots of rum and raisin and booziness from this coffee, while still having a good amount of chocolaty body.

The farm is owned by Rafael Silva who also owns Finca La Fany - a farm one of our first coffees came from.

Kenya, Thunguri AA, SL-28 SL-34, Washed   Country of origin: Kenya Region: Nyeri Producer: Rumukia Co-op Society Members Varieties: SL-28, SL-34 Process: Washed Roaster: Workshop Coffee Co Brewing method: Chemex Tasting notes: blackberry, vanilla, stone fruit

Our second Kenyan from Workshop, and fourth of the year so far - this is everything you'd expect from a traditional Kenyan coffee - lots of blackberry and a stone fruit acidity. The coffee comes from the Thunguri factory, which is owned by the Rumukia Co-op, comprising of over 800 members with on average 100 trees each. The farmers deliver their coffee to the Thunguri factory where it is processed with the usual high attention to detail of Kenyan coffees.

Once the coffee has been processed at Thunguri, it is shipped off to Nairobi to be sold, then to a dry mill for the removal of the parchment. At every step of its journey, the coffee is sorted for quality, ensuring this lot that Workshop attained, is the very best.


Sumatra, Wahana, Lington, Natural, Rasuna    Country of origin: Sumatra Region: Desa Lee Mungkerr Farm: Wahana Coffee Estate Varieties: Rasuna Process: Natural Roaster: Has Bean Brewing method: Slayer Espresso Machine Tasting notes: dark chocolate, chilli, sherry

We're having a bit of a natural coffee fest at Brew Lab at the moment, and this coffee completes it. Its the first Sumatran we've had in a Brew Lab. In the past we have steered away from them due to fact that they traditionally have a very dark, leathery flavour, and are not the highest quality. This example is completely different however.

The Wahana Estate has a number of new coffee growing practices to ensure the high quality of their yield: only organic fertilisers are used, and the area around the farm has been a designated a conservation area. The farm also has a housing scheme and medical clinic for all its workers.

We have this coffee on the second grinder as a single-origin espresso and its crazy: we get dark chocolate with chilli and black pepper.

Brew Lab invades The Hanging Bat

Hanging Bat

Because nothing makes us as happy as beer and coffee, on Sunday 30th we'll be heading over to (invading?) our good pals The Hanging Bat to do a coffee and beer tasting afternoon. The aim: to foster inter-awareness of coffee and beer and to show the sheer variety of different styles, and the hugely different tastes that these styles exhibit.

We'll be kicking off with a tutored cupping of 5 contrasting Has Bean coffees from Ethiopia, Kenya, El Salvador, Brazil and Sumatra, and we'll be challenging your tastebuds to match up tasting notes to the correct coffees. You'll learn about how coffee is produced in each country, and why different production and processing methods make such significant differences to the coffees flavour profile.

Next up, The Hanging Bat will be providing a tasty lunch from their kitchen to prime you ready for the beer tasting: 5 contrasting styles that exhibit the best craft beer has to offer.

Finally we'll all be getting together to brew a really special beer. We'll be using cascara, the highly caffeinated dried fruit of the coffee cherry to brew up something that, to our knowledge has never been done before: a cascara beer.

If you'd like to be involved, tickets are available here.


New coffee: Kenya, Kirimahiga, Washed AA


Kenya Kirimahiga Washed AACountry of origin: Kenya Region: Central Kenya Farm: New Kiriti - Kirimahiga Farmers co-operative society Varieties: Ruiru 11/ SL 32 & SL 28 Process: Washed Roaster: Has Bean Brewing method: Chemex Tasting notes: blackcurrant, creamy mouth-feel, red wine acidity

This is the second Kenyan of the year from Has Bean, and its a bit more of what you would expect from a Kenyan coffee compared to the Gachami we had on last: lots of blackcurrant and red wine notes that come from the SL 28 variety.

Kirimahiga is a washing station that is based within the New Kiriti farmers coop. The coop was started in 1987 and currently has 780 members who all elect a chairman. The coop is heavily involved with the Coffee Transparency initiative which aims to treat workers and suppliers ethically and fairly, protect the environment and promote economic transparency.

The coffee features the Ruiru 11, SL 28 and SL 32 varietals. SL 28 and SL 32 were developed in the Kenyan Scott Labs in the 1930s and are characterised by a lovely blackcurrant acidity. Despite having positive flavour characteristics, SL 28 & SL 32 are very prone to Coffee Borer Disease & Coffee Leaf Rust, and Kenya has a big problem with crops being wiped out by these diseases. Ruiru 11 was developed in the 80s to cross the 'flavour-positive' but disease susceptible SL 28 variety with the disease resistance of the Robusta strain, while also being significantly higher yielding. The problem with higher yielding crops is that the flavour characteristics in the fruit are in effect, spread too thinly. There have been complaints from Kenyan farmers that the Ruiru 11 variety does not produce as good a flavour as the SL 28 variety, but evidently this is down to the crops not being pruned aggressively enough. The more the plant is pruned, the less fruit is produced and the more flavour there is in the fruit.

Kenya Kirimahiga

Ruiru 11 has also been developed to grow in a much higher density of plants. The variety can be planted at a density of 2500-3000 trees per hector, whereas traditional varieties like SL 28 can only be planted at 1500 trees per hector.

Thanks to Steve Leighton from Has Bean for sharing his wisdom about Ruiru 11. If you're interested in reading more about Ruiru 11, check out this article on Coffee Review.


New coffee: Colombia, La Serrania, Washed

Serrania Huila

Colombia, La Serrania, Washed Country of origin: Colombia Region: Huila Farm: Various small farmers Varieties: 75% Caturra, 25% Colombia Process: Washed Roaster: Square Mile Brewing method: V60 Tasting notes: ripe peach, raspberry acidity, silky mouth-feel

La Serrania is the name given to the coffee by Virmax, the exporters that Square Mile bought this coffee through. The coffee is one of the components of Square Mile's Red Brick espresso blend, but it turns out it works really well as a filter. It is from the same region that La Buitrera, a Colombian we had on recently from Square Mile was from and exhibits similar flavour characteristics. We're getting ripe peach, a raspberry acidity and a very silky mouth-feel.

New coffee: Colombia, Finca La Paz, Washed


Colombia, Finca La Paz, Washed Country of origin: Colombia Region: Antioquia Farm: La Paz Varieties: Caturra, Colombia, Castillo Process: Washed Roaster: Workshop Coffee Co Brewing method: V60 Tasting notes: Peach, dried apple, crisp & clean mouth-feel

Finca La Paz is a small farm at just 3 hectares, producing just over 2.5 tonnes of coffee a year. Workshop picked this coffee after it jumped out during a cupping at Mercanta coffee importers.

It's in a similar vein to the stunning Finca Tamana we had from Workshop last month, but we're getting lots of peach, dried apple acidity from the coffee. We'll be getting the espresso version of this coffee in very soon.

New Coffee: Kenya Gachami AA Washed


Kenya Gachami AA WashedCountry of origin: Kenya Region: Central Kenya Farm: Baragwi Farmers coop Varieties: SL28 & SL 32 Process: Washed Roaster: Has Bean Brewing method: Chemex Tasting notes: Ruby grapefruit, demerara sugar, lemon rind

This is the first Kenyan of the year and its here just in time for the sun. Kenyans are a great summertime coffee - they're characterised by being light, and often with citrus and berry notes.

Similar to the way coffee growing works in Ethiopia, the coffee is grown by a farmers coop and then processed in the Gachami washing station. It sits at around 1600-1800 meters above sea level, which is ideal altitude for growing coffee. The farmers coop that Gachami is owned by has another 11 mills within the region, and there are 1472 members. The farmers have on average one hectare of land to grow crops, and most are within walking distance of the Gachami mill.

The coffee is made up of the SL 28 and SL 32 varieties which were developed by the Scott Labs in Kenya in the 1930s and are hybrids of Bourbon and heirloom Ethiopian varietals.

We get ruby grapefruit with demerara sugar from this coffee. Its very refreshing - perfect for a sunny Edinburgh.


Extended opening


A few months ago we ran a survey about extending our opening hours. Lots of you got back to us, and it was really encouraging to see that the overwhelming majority were so keen for us to stay open later. Right from when we first decided to open a coffee shop, we wanted it to be a place that opened late and offered a space that people could come to work and socialise at into the evening, and that is still the long term plan; however, the extension of our hours will be an iterative process. With the Festival coming up, we decided the right decision would be to extend our opening by an hour, and then come back at look at opening even later after we have made it through August.

From the survey we learnt that some customers find it difficult to make it to Brew Lab after work during the week, so opening until 7pm Monday to Friday would mean customers who until now were only able to visit us at the weekend, will be able to make it for an after-work coffee. For now, our weekend opening hours will remain 9am to 6pm.

We're looking forward to this new change, and we hope to see you in Brew Lab soon.

From Monday 3rd June, our new opening hours will be:

Mon – Fri      8am - 7pm Sat & Sun       9am - 6pm

New coffee: Brew Lab Espresso Mk.7 - El Salvador, San Rafael, Bourbon, Washed

Dialling in

Some of you may have noticed that our house blend has changed numerous times since we opened our doors. This is because we share the belief – along with our roasters, Has Bean – that coffee should be purchased in accordance with the various harvest seasons of the producing countries. This gives us a fantastic array of tasty beverages but it also helps us keep our offerings of the upmost quality. Has Bean have just had their first container of this year’s El Salvador coffees come in; they’ve done a fabulous job of being one of the first European roasters to land this year’s harvest. We are delighted to get hold of one of these as our house coffee.  The coffee is called San Rafael Washed Bourbon. El Salvador has the right ingredients to produce speciality coffee - soil, climate, altitude, and great plant stock. 70% of coffee exported by El Salvador is a cultivar called Bourbon. It isn’t a particularly high yielding cultivar and it has problems with disease, pest resistance, and susceptibility to wind and rain damage. It is however revered for its cup profile: Bourbons are generally known for being balanced, sweet, and having a refined acidity which does not dominate in the cup. Whilst being delicious as a brewed coffee, Bourbons are renowned for making a great shot of espresso.

The San Rafael farm is located very close to the Santa Ana volcano in a much coveted region for growing exceptional coffees. The coffee is shade grown with a mixture of agricultural crops and indigenous species, which is good ecologically. Increasing biodiversity on the farm helps protect soil and water resources whilst also helping with pest control and crop fertilisation. Additionally, shade regulates the microclimate to allow coffee plants to produce very high quality cherries. All the farm upkeep activities are done by hand rather than using chemicals and additional waste from the cherry processing plant is recycled back to the farm as fertilizer. Our coffee was hand-picked in January and then sorted to remove organic debris and bad cherries.

This coffee is known as a ‘washed coffee’ due to the way in it is processed at the El Mono mill. What occurs here is a dry fermentation where the coffee is sprayed with water, or water from the de-pulping process is added, for 8-10 hours until the drying process begins. Due to the extreme heat at midday the cherries are covered to prevent damage and the beans are then dried on patios until they have between 10-12% moisture content. Has Bean buy this coffee through the mill the producer uses and move the coffee themselves.

Once the coffee has landed at Has Bean towers in Stafford, it is then down to the roasters to choose a ‘roast profile’. The coffee is roasted to varying degrees with different temperature profiles, these sample roasts are then evaluated and a particular roast profile is chosen - the particular profile of this coffee was selected to accentuate its sweetness. Once roasted and shipped to Brew Lab the coffee rests for 7-10 days and its then down to me, the barista, to consistently serve this coffee to its fullest potential. This is me dialling in the espresso first thing in the morning before the shop opens.

Dialling in

Here I am trying to achieve a grind size and dose which best highlights the coffee on any day, it’s a lot of pressure considering the complex chain of events that led to this coffee coming into my hands!

I think effort put in at the producing country and at Has Bean really shows in the cup. As an espresso expect a very smooth mouth feel with a buttery and creamy sweetness. In milk there is even more sweetness: chocolate, cream and little bit of hazelnut.  As a brewed coffee there is an increased complexity with a sticky caramel sweetness coming through. Come in and see what you think of it!

El Salvador, San Rafael, Bourbon, Washed  Country of origin: El Salvador Region: Palo de Campana Farm: San Rafael Varieties: Bourbon Process: Washed Roaster: Has Bean Brewing method: Slayer Espresso Machine

New coffee: Brazil, Passeio, Natural, Icatu; Colombia, Finca Tamana; Brazil, Passeio, Pulped Natural, Rubi

Fazenda Passeio

Brazil, Fazenda Passeio, Natural, Icatu Country of origin: Brazil Region: Minas Gerais Farm: Passeio Varieties: Icatu Process: Natural Roaster: Has Bean Brewing method: Clever Dripper

This is the second coffee we've had from Fazenda Passeio. The first (which incidentally, we have as a guest single origin espresso at the moment), was an amazing brew - it tasted of KitKats! You can read all about Fazenda Passeio here. This coffee is unusual in that it features a relatively unknown varietal: Icatu. Icatu is a hybrid of Mundo Novo and Caturra, it is high yielding, pest resistent and relatively resistent to leaf rust.

The coffee has a really big mouth-fell, and tastes of dark fruity chocolate, and wafers. It's a really good contrast to our second coffee, Finca Tamana.

You can watch Steve's video review of the coffee here:


Colombia, Finca Tamana, Caturra & Colombia, Washed Country of origin: Colombia Region: Huila Farm: Tamana Varieties: Caturra & Colombia Process: Washed Roaster: Workshop Coffee Co Brewing method: V60

Coffee from Finca Tamana has been getting quite a lot of press recently. Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood from  Colonna & Smalls in Bath came second in the UKBC using it, additionally, its been getting a lot of attention in the coffee world thanks to the work Tim Wendleboe and the Farm's owner, Elias Roa are putting into improving picking, washing, drying, logistics, sustainability of the farm and the welfare of their workers. You can see more about their work in this video.

This is an extremely elegant coffee with notes of poached pear and candied orange.

Brazil Fazenda Passeio Rubi Pulped Natural Country of origin: Brazil Farm: Passeio Region: Minas Gerais Varieties: Rubi Process: Pulped Natural Roaster: Has Bean Brewing method: Slayer Espresso Machine

This coffee was on the brew bar a few months ago, but we liked it so much, we wanted to get it on as a single origin espresso. You still get the chocolate and KitKat coming through, with a very creamy body and very little fruit at all.



New coffee: Colombia, Huila, La Buitrera & Bolivia, Taypiplaya, Jatun Kollo Mountain


South American coffees are really starting to roll in, and this week we have an amazing Colombian from Square Mile, and an extremely tasty Bolivian from Has Bean. Colombia, Huila, La Buitrera, Washed  Country of origin: Colombia Region: Huila Farm: La Buitrera Varieties: Caturra, Castillo & San Bernardo Process: Washed Roaster: Square Mile Brewing method: V60

La Buitrera is owned by Albeiro Ortiz Gomez and based in the Huila region of Colombia. Colombian coffee has recently been blighted by a fungus called leaf rust that attacks the coffee plant and essentially ruins crops. The Castillo variety that is present in this coffee is the latest that has been created to be leaf rust resistent: a glimmer of hope for the coffee industry in Colombia. This coffee is delicate with a lychee syrup sweetness with a hint of chocolate and summer berries on the finish.

Bolivia, Taypiplaya, Jatun Kollo Mountain  Country of origin: Bolivia Region: Caranavi Town: Taypiplaya Farm: 150 coffee producers Varieties: Caturra Red/ Yellow, Typica, and Catuai Process: Washed Roaster: Has Bean Brewing method: Clever Dripper

There are around 150 farmers in the Taypiplaya colony that grow coffee around the Jatun Mountain. It is a washed coffee so the cherries are mechanically separated from their husks with water. The coffee has a juicy dark plum acidity with hints of lime and pineapple  but there is also a large amount of chocolate in the cup.

You can watch Steve Leighton's review of the coffee here:

The Super Secret Sunday Syphon Society


The Syphon is a spectacular method of brewing coffee. Water is placed in a glass globe and brought to the boil using a halogen light that makes the apparatus glow deep red. A glass flute is sealed onto the globe, and the pressure makes the water rise up. The coffee is added to the top chamber and brews for 2 minutes; next, the heat source is turned off and the partial vacuum that is created draws the coffee back down to the bottom globe, through a fine paper filter.

Syphon small The Syphon has been used to make coffee for more than a century, and the combination of immersion brewing, a stable brewing temperature and a fine paper filter makes a super clean cup, with lots of body and distinct flavour clarity.

Every Sunday we're using the Syphon to showcase some of the best coffees available to buy in the UK. These Cup of Excellence coffees have been voted the highest quality examples from their country in any given year and exhibit outstanding flavour and balance.

This Sunday we'll be brewing a coffee from the Rwanda Mibirizi washing station that came 3rd in the last Cup of Excellence competition. The washing station is owned by the Nile Congo Mountains Coffee Company and receives coffee grown from Bourbon plants first planted 100 years ago. The coffee undergoes meticulous processing, the beans are fully washed with spring water from the mountains then sun-dried and hand sorted.

The coffee has a big, chewy mouth-feel with a caramel and butterscotch sweetness that is really brought out by the Syphon brewing.

Rwanda Mibirizi Cup of Excellence Country of origin: Rwanda Region: Western Washing station: Mibirizi Varieties: Bourbon Process: Washed Roaster: Has Bean Brewing method: Syphon


New coffee: Ethiopia Kebel Kercha Guji, Bolivia San Jose, Sweet Shop Espresso

pre dosing

We're onto three new coffees, with some really exciting coffee in the pipeline too. The first new coffee was sourced by our barista Mark, so he's written about it for us: I'm really excited to have a coffee on this week from a roaster in Stockholm, Sweden. Stockholm Roast are a micro-roaster who only tend to supply to cafes in and around Stockholm. I'm very pleased we've managed to get this coffee on our brew bar, and I'm sure our customers will love this UK exclusive coffee too.

Guji, Grade 1- Kebel Kercha Dry Mill Country of origin: Ethiopia Region: Sidamo, northern Yirga-Cheffe Processing station: Kebal Kercha Varieties: Local varieties with a majority of Typica Process: Natural Roaster: Stockholm Roast Brewing method: v60

I came across this coffee when I had a holiday in Stockholm earlier this year. Having tried the coffee as an espresso at Tasman Cafe, I brought a lighter roast of the same coffee back to Edinburgh to try as a filter coffee. My colleagues and I were so impressed with the coffee that we decided to buy it in bulk from Stockholm.

The processing station Kebal Kercha is located north of the city of Yirga Cheffe in Ethiopia. Around 750 farmers grow and contribute their wares to Kebal Kercha. This is a natural processed coffee; it is dried in the sun with the skin and pulp intact for up to 6 weeks.

The secret of this lot is gentle processing and a conscious harvest where only fully ripe berries are picked. It has intense aromatics of berries, a creamy texture and a deep milk chocolate sweetness.

Our second coffee is from Has Bean, and the second Bolivian coffee we have had on the brew bar.

Bolivia San Jose Constancio Aruqipa 2013 Country of origin: Bolivia Region: Caranavi Farm: Constancio Aruquipa Varieties: Caturra Process: 'Bolivia style', a hybrid of washed and pulped natural Roaster: Has Bean Brewing method: Clever Dripper

Constancio Aruqipa's farm is situated in a small colony of 12 families called San Jose. Constancio lives and grows coffee there with his wife and 5 children. The coffee is from the Caranavi region, which displays a wide range of micro climates - all of which bring out very different flavours in their coffees.

Constancio only bought this farm in 2008, and this is the first crop from the 21,000 caturra plans he planted there. Once harvested, the coffee is processed at the same mill that Finca David Vilca is milled at, a coffee that we had on the brew bar a few months ago. The processing method is 'Bolivian style', which is a hybrid of pulped natural and washed processing.

The coffee is bright with a good amount of citrus and lemonade, but brewing it on the clever dripper helps to bring out a good amount of body.

Sweet Shop Espresso 50% La Buitrera (Colombia) 50% La Serrania (Colombia)

Sweet Shop Espresso

Square Mile's Sweet Shop espresso is an ever changing blend that aims to combine sweet, characterful coffees to create an unique espresso packed with fruit. The combination of La Buitrera and La Serrania in this blend gives us lemon bonbons and lemon sherbet - its fizzy and bright, and really interesting!