Finally - our first international roastery has made us a visit!
Calendar Coffee from Galway in Ireland, with huge focus on seasonality and coffee freshness are the first featured roastery for the March month - and damn, you can feel it in the cup.
Here you can read a giving interview with Zarah Lawless, one of the founders of Calendar Coffee:
Who are you guys that founded Calendar Coffee and how did you meet?
- We are Zarah and Dan, co-founders of Calendar Coffee, established in 2018. We met back in 2015 when we both worked for Workshop Coffee in London. Dan was working as Head Roaster in the production department and Zarahwas Front of House Manager of their Clerkenwell Cafe. So it's fair to say coffee brought us together! 8 years (and a baby later!), our roastery is based in Oughterard - just outside Galway city on the west coast of Ireland.
How did the idea of starting your own roastery come about?
- I (Zarah) am from Galway originally and we have an amazing food scene here which I have always found really inspiring. As I was travelling back and forwards from London to visit my parents who live here, I noticed there was no coffee roastery. Dan had always wanted to start his own business too so we took the leap of faith, sold all our belongings and moved here in 2017. The aim with Calendar was to use business as a force for good and prioritize our planet before profits. Over the years, we've done things a little differently and we're really proud of what we've built.
Can you tell us a bit more about your name and what your focus is?
- We felt there was a lack of transparency over harvest information on coffee bags. Fresh green coffee is one of the biggest determinant's of roasted coffee quality, yet harvest dates are rarely available to the consumer. Calendar is about following the harvest calendar, and roasting coffee when it's at it's peak of flavour (usually 6-11 months off the tree). Each coffee only lasts 3 months in the range before moving onto a fresher harvest.
What are some of the challenges of working as seasonally as you do?
- We buy smaller lots more frequently, with the aim to make each coffee last 3 months. The biggest challenge is around sourcing, and making sure we buy just the right amount of coffee. If we over buy, there is a risk that the coffee will start to age and not taste so sweet. We have had one or two incidences over the years where a coffee has aged faster than we predicted, which has meant we have to pull this coffee from the range and absorb the loss. This is very rare but it can happen.
How long after the harvest have you noticed that the coffee starts dipping?
- With the exception of Kenyans and Ethiopians, most origins won't taste their best after 12 months off the tree. Kenya and Ethiopia have such high standards for processing coffee and this enhances their stability and shelf life. Every coffee will have a different sweet spot. For example, we roast our Rwandan's and Burundi's relatively quickly, these usually taste good with less rest and can age quite fast. Kenyans need more rest, and if you roast them too soon, they have the tendency to taste tight and unbalanced.
We have understood that you work towards reducing your carbon footprint. In what ways do you actively do this, as you can inspire many roasteries to follow that path?
- We have a couple of initiatives already in place. We offset most of our emissions through a reforestation project in a nearby county. So far, we have planted over 650 native Irish trees. We offer local customers the option to receive their coffee in reusable buckets. This has reduced our single use plastic output by approx. 40%. Our house espresso project is called Teamwork and we donate €0.50 per kg to World Coffee Research - the only non profit helping farmers adapt to climate change. We found that implementing environmental initiatives as early as possible into our business model was the best way! This meant as we scaled and grew, it wasn't an extra cost or burden. It's already built into the way the company runs.
On a different note - your illustrations are amazing. How did you come up with this direction of your branding? Are you the ones creating them?
- Thank you! Our friend and all round amazing woman, Cadi Lane designs them. We were initially inspired by the craft beer industry and loved the idea of creating a bespoke artwork for every coffee. It's nice for the consumer too as they get an idea of what the coffee will taste like by looking at the artwork.
How would you brew the featured coffees?
- Giraldo Munoz sings when brewed on V60! Not literally but you get what we mean! We follow an 18g of coffee to 300g of water recipe - total brew time 3 minutes.
FILTER - GIRALDO MUNOZ, COLOMBIA
Producer: Giraldo Muňoz
Variety: Castillo & Caturra
Altitude: 1,900 masl
Nariño is located in the far south-west of Colombia bordering Ecuador, and is one of the most challenging, but also most interesting places to work. In contrast to other regions in Colombia, the conditions here can be extremely dry during the harvest time, and humidity in the area can be low. Coffee grows up to 2,200 masl, often on the steep hillsides, in very remote areas. It's these unique growing conditions at high altitudes where we often find the most extraordinary coffees.
This coffee comes from Giraldo Munoz, a smallholder farmer from Nariño, and member of the Café Occidente Cooperative. When we first tasted this coffee, we were surprised and excited that it came from Colombia! There is very little richness, and its juicy blackcurrant acidity is something we would look for in Kenyan coffees.
Expect a bright, sweet and fruity cup, with notes of blackcurrant, fresh strawberry and black tea.
ESPRESSO: HUNKUTE - ETHIOPIA
Producer: Hunkute washing station
Region: Dalle, Sidamo
Altitude: 2,000 masl
The producing region of Sidamo is one of the most recognisable names in the industry, and Hunkute is famous for producing coffees that are intensely aromatic, delicate and floral. For us, the quality produced here is consistently among the best in Ethiopia and we go out of our way to drink these coffees every year!
Located in the Wonsho woreda, close to Yirgalem town, there are over 2,000 smallholder farmers who deliver cherries to one of the two washing stations in the area. Both stations are under the same management, and coffee from both sites is marketed as Hunkute. Harvesting begins in November and ends in January, and although most coffee in Ethiopia is organic by default, this coffee is certified.
Most farmers delivering to the station will tend to 1-2 hectares of land, with an average of 1,500 trees per hectare. The coffee here is referred to collectively as ‘Ethiopian Heirloom’, which is a mix of indiginous varieties, including a cultivar known locally as Sendancho. This coffee is fully washed, and has been processed using an Agaarde disc pulper, removing the skin and fruit pulp before it is fermented underwater, washed and graded in channels. The cool temperatures here allow the coffee to be dried slowly on raised beds, which we think contributes to the incredibly clean and complex flavours we love so much.
The structure and sweetness of this coffee lends itself perfectly to espresso. Expect a bright, balanced and sweet cup with notes of candied lemon and earl grey.
After getting insight into Calendar Coffee and the chosen coffees, we hope that you are now excited about trying them!