Coffee Sensation at Tamper

I've always enjoyed a good cup of coffee and for me it needs to be strong, but milky. Unfortunately that means that the chains simply cannot cut it.  Yeah they get the milk half right (only half as it won't be Superfresh Our Cow Molly milk, will it Eddie?), but they've got no chance at getting the strength right; sometimes I've had stronger cups of earl grey!
So when out and about and in need of a coffee I always hunt down an independent and stick to the Americano.  That way I know that my coffee won't be ruined by some silly foam or, worse, some sickly sweet coffee flavouring syrup.
Having said all that, I am no coffee connoisseur.  At all.  I have an Italian stove top kettle to make my espresso, and I tend to add a decent glug of warm milk to that, but I couldn't even tell you what variety of coffee I have in the cupboard (although I do know it's in a pretty tin).
However, thanks to Tamper Coffee, all this is set to change.  Now I, and the rest of Sheffield, have somewhere to go for consistently great coffee.  Luckily for me, Tamper is literally around the corner from the flat which means that although it's not even been open two months, I am already a huge fan (as is the husband).  Jonathan and his triple shot flat whites have cured a few of my hangovers, but this place isn't just for the die hard caffeine addicts.  There is also a good range of Teapigs tea, frothy milk drinks for the kids and PIES.
And we all know how much I love a pie don't we?  Steak and cheese certainly gets my vote, although the lamb and mint isn't a bad second choice.  They're made to Jonathan’s own recipe, and he's already told me he's not going to share it (spoil sport!).  There are cakes too, thanks to Sheffield Country Markets.  See, although Jonathan is a New Zealander he is very keen to immerse himself in the Sheffield food community which is why you’ll only see Our Cow Molly milk being used.
Jonathan’s first love is still the coffee and he’s on a bit of a mission to get a real coffee scene started in Sheffield.  He compares the age old British tradition of going for a pint with the cool New Zealand attitude of spending a morning in a coffee shop.  Of course, meeting for a coffee isn’t a new concept in Britain but it certainly has its place.  Professional meets and yummy mummy get-togethers are a far cry away from meeting the lads down the coffee shop.
As part of Jonathan’s mission to spread the love of the bean, he’s putting on some coffee evenings and I managed to make the first one last week.  Firstly he wanted to share his understanding of coffee as that’s all part of the appreciation of coffee, so he asked his friends at Bolling Coffee Ltd (a Huddersfield based company who  produce the Grumpy Mule blend used at Tamper) to come in and give a presentation.
Both Sally and Katherine were more than happy to take part in the evening.  They’re eager to spend time with their customers; after all they’re responsible for serving the end product to the wider public so Bolling are keen to make sure they get it right.  They like to form good relationships with the farmers too and have got to know a few of the farmers’ families over the years.  Of course they make sure that they buy direct, and at a fair price too, meaning that you can sip away guilt free.
The evening commenced with a bit of a lesson in where the beans come from.  I’ve never really thought about it too much before, but I was surprised to hear that they start out life on an evergreen tree.  White, jasmine scented flowers turn to red berries, inside of which are two coffee beans.  Once the fruits are picked the flesh is ‘washed’ off, either literally with water, or simply by being left out for the fruit to dry off the bean. 
They then make their way to Bolling’s roaster in Holmfirth, near Huddersfield, to be roasted to perfection.  Bolling like to roast in small batches of about 30 kilos as it’s easier to control the cooking of the beans, ensuring that they are cooked all the way through.  Of course the roasting of the beans is only part of the story and there’s a real skill to turning these little beauties into liquid form. 
Time for the tasters…..
 First up we tried an espresso each.  Using the Boutique variety which is a blend of beans from Costa Rica and El Salvador, it was a fruity coffee which developed in flavour as it cooled.  It’s one I’ve had before as its Tamper’s usual blend.
It’s a good hit, but I do prefer a flat white.  This is essentially a latte but with less milk and a good strong hit of espresso coming through.  The milk showcases the espresso so Jonathan likes to use the freshest milk possible.  It’s a good chance to show off some latte art action too….
The milk is important in a cappuccino too.  It’s not my cup of tea (excuse the pun…), the fact that the Italians only have them for breakfast as a gentle wakeup call says it all for me, but I know that the creamy topping does appeal.  The finer the foam, the better and you’ll need a good fresh milk to achieve a top result.
We then moved on to tasting different blends of coffee and of course, to really understand the different tastes, they had to be tried in their purest form; straight up.  So out came the Tru Bru.  This is a Japanese drip station, which looks way more elegant than it sounds.  Hot (not boiling) water is poured over ground coffee.  It then filters through it and drips into the cup below.  So simple; but so effective.  You’ll find one of these on Jonathan’s counter in the New Year as he experiments with some new techniques.
We tried three different varieties, including a Micro-lot coffee from Rwanda and the seasonal Grumpy Yule which is a blend of beans from El Salvador, Costa Rica and Brazil.  The use of the Brazilian beans is supposed to appeal to our British taste buds as most of the coffee we consume is a Brazilian blend, and appeal it did.  Most of us did prefer the Grumpy Mule to the Micro-lot coffee.
The next coffee was an extraordinary Ethiopian tchembe.  It smelled of blueberry muffins.  I know it’s difficult to believe that any coffee could smell of anything as sweet as blueberry muffins, but it did!  It even had an aftertaste of blueberries.  One to try if you haven’t already.
By this point I was feeling a little on edge.  I’d had about six coffees in the space of an hour and a half, so I was quite glad to hear that the next offering was an affogato; a good dollop of Our Cow Molly vanilla ice cream with some hot espresso poured on top.  It was a sweet finish to the evening.
Sorry you missed out?  Don’t worry; there will be more events in the new year.  Follow @TamperCoffee on Twitter or like their Facebook page for updates.
And talking of the New Year, I hope you have all have a lovely time over the festive season…. I’ll see you in 2012!
Pictures: Marek Payne

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