The cafetiere has often been considered the people’s brew kit. It’s easy to use and it’s incredibly easy to master. That’s why most people tend to cut their teeth on the French press when they start out brewing. But that’s not to say that Will, our Head of Coffee, hasn’t got a few cafetiere tips and tricks up his sleeves.

At our latest coffee class held at Pact HQ, our customers took the plunge into the world of cafetieres. Everyone who came along got some brilliant brewing pointers from Will, as well as a free bag of coffee and a fancy-looking KeepCup for those coffee-on-the-run moments.

If you couldn’t make it then don’t worry. We filmed the whole thing and popped it up on Google Hangouts, allowing you to join in at home… or even host your own Cafetiere Masterclass.

(Pssst. If you missed out, we also live-streamed the whole thing on Google Hangouts, which you can still catch on YouTube.)

Coffee class caf

1. Measure your coffee

As with all our brew methods, we say to use 60g per one litre of water but we understand that not everyone has scales or a coffee scoop to measure their coffee.

So we did some calculations. A heaped teaspoon of coffee is about 5g, a dessert spoon is 10g and a tablespoon is around 15g – now everyone can get the right amount of coffee in their cafetiere. Once you have the measurements all sorted, put the coffee in your cafetiere and put the kettle on the boil.

2. Not too hot

For the water to have the perfect amount of energy, it should be around 94 degrees. So when you boil your water, leave it to stand for a minute before pouring it into your cafetiere.

3. Pouring & stirring

Start your timer and pour in your water at a good rate so it covers all the coffee. At about two minutes in, stir it a few times and add in a bit more water if the level of coffee in your cafetiere goes down.

4. Scoop & Plunge

At four minutes, scoop off the coffee granules on top of the coffee, place on the lid and slowly push down the plunger.

Et voilà! You have amazing cafetiere coffee. Give it a go and drop us a comment. We’d love to hear what you think.

Our next event is Espresso Yourself, an espresso coffee class on 4th September from 8-9am. So, don’t forget to get your ticket.

A little bit extra: We did write a guide for how to brew with your cafetiere back in April, but with Will joining the team, the cafetiere coffee class was a great chance for us to learn a bit more. We’ve made some changes so everyone is on the same page!

http://blog.pactcoffee.com/2014/04/02/cafetiere-brew-guide-2/

 

sack cushion

Ben’s crafty cushion

When one of our customers, Ben Holah, (a creative type who helps his mum run this adorable website) asked for a coffee bag for a project he was working on, we didn’t expect to receive such a wonderful gift in return.

Ben told us how he liked that there are so many things you can do with an ordinary coffee sack. The material can be used for chair covers, headboards or even stretched over a canvas, but it was the cushion idea that he liked the most. It’s also one of the simplest and most effective projects you can do at home.

Here’s how he did it:

  1. Cut two rectangular shapes the same size out of the coffee sack, being careful to match up the grain and anything printed.
  2. Place the two rectangles on top of each other and inside out, then machine sew around three sides.
  3. Turn the fabric out, and fill the cushion with stuffing or an existing cushion. Hand sew the open end and sit back and admire your handiwork.

Little tip: You may find you need to use a stronger needle. An upholstery needle should do the trick.

If you’re looking to do a little coffee bag DIY of your own, we’ve got loads of great ideas on the Pact Coffee Craft Pinterest page. From decorative pin boards to rugs and iPad cases, there’s plenty to keep you busy on a quiet crafternoon.

Here’s a Pact fact, that I’ve received a few customer emails about recently:

We deliberately roast our beans lighter than the industry average.

Why do we do that?
What does it mean for the strength of our coffee?
And what does all this have to do with toast?

Those are three questions we’re going to answer. Right here, right now.

We roast our coffee lighter.
We do this to retain the individuality of our coffees. When we say ‘individuality’ we mean the more subtle flavours that can be both revealed and also hidden by the roasting process. These flavours tend to fall into one of three categories:

  • Natural flavours: the floral or citrusy notes, that emerge when the coffee is grown and then processed.
  • Light roasting flavours: typically chocolatey and nutty, which emerge when the coffee is lightly roasted.
  • Heavy roasting flavours: the smoky or spicy flavours that develop from a heavy roasting.

As you can probably imagine, the latter two of these cannot be squeezed into the same coffee bean. It’s a bit like with toast…

Newsletter-toast

The Toast Analogy
Roasting coffee is very similar to toasting bread. For most people, the perfect piece of toast is a nice golden brown colour – not too pale, not too dark. With a cracking piece of toast like that, the natural flavours of the bread are complemented by a lovely sweetness because the bread has actually been slightly caramelised. If you burn your toast, all you can really taste is the burnt, charred bit. Some people like that, but for most a piece of burnt toast is a tragic story of what could have been.

Back to coffee…
Just like the toaster, the roaster faces two options:

1. They can choose to heavily roast the beans, replacing their natural flavours with smoky or spicy notes. This is generally how supermarket or high street chain coffee is roasted. They opt for a dark, oily bean that is easy to reproduce, making sure the coffee tastes the same whatever international branch you happen to find yourself in…

2. They can lightly roast their beans, like we do at Pact. This maintains the natural flavours of the coffee, whilst adding some lovely light roast notes too – producing the matt, lighter coloured bean. A great example is our new Ethiopian coffee, Sidamo. By lightly roasting this coffee, we think we’ve managed to retain its distinctly Ethiopian natural floral notes but have also added a lovely buttery taste through the roasting process.

So that’s what we do and why we do it. I’ve had a few emails from customers asking about this, so I hope this post has been helpful. If it’s raised any further questions then feel free to comment below or email me on brendan@pactcoffee.com

By the way! Watch out for my next post about roasting, where I’ll be explaining why we don’t have a strength scale like supermarkets.

Today, after a couple of months of hard work from Anneliese and the Pact community, I’m thrilled to pull back the curtain on our shiny new logo.

LogoVertical

A logo evolution is unusual for a company like Pact. Like most small businesses, we battle to get everything done with few people and little resource. This usually puts big projects like a new logo firmly on the ‘one day’ list, far behind new features and new coffees. So rather than leaving brows furrowed, I’d like to answer two questions:

1) Why did we decide to redesign the logo at all?
2) How did we arrive at this one?

Why the new look?

We take pride in making things at Pact. Really rolling up our sleeves and doing things ourselves. We made the coffee bar at Pact HQ (out of pallets). We made the tables that we work on each day (out of pallets). We made the coffee-picking algorithm that matches your preferences with our coffees (out of maths). I’m proud that we don’t retain agencies for things like PR, design, and marketing.

But that wasn’t always possible…

In June last year (when we changed our name from YourGrind to Pact) we were in need of a new logo and we had to outsource it. Back then we were a team of five plucky coffee lovers, who had no design ability whatsoever and no choice but to employ the skills of a friendly freelance designer called Tim.

We loved the work he did but in the year since we commissioned it, we’ve come to understand a lot more about Pact. We can now talk really clearly about the things we believe in and what we stand for. So that’s the first reason we wanted to make a change.

The second reason is Anneliese, Pact’s kick-ass designer, who joined the team six months ago. She lives and breathes Pact and her skills have made her the perfect person to give our logo a rethink…

BLOG

So, why this logo?

1) We love craft. The farmers we work with are craftsmen, our roast master is a craftsman and our Grindhouse team are crafters too. The wax seal on our old logo was uniform and manufactured whereas this one was crafted. We know because…

2) It was crafted by our community! We threw an event, made some cocktails and we all had a go with a wax stamp. Andrew and Hannah’s were the best, and now they are on our bags forever. I can’t tell you how happy that makes me.

3) Ms. Chandley and Mr Jones. They taught me Theatre Studies and Chemistry at A-level and each took something fascinating but complicated and made it engaging and fun. They did so for hundreds of us because they believed it would change our lives, which is exactly the way we feel about coffee. Anneliese’s chalky blackboard font is a tribute to people like them.

4) Freshness. From the sandwich board serifs to the hot wax stamps, we have tried to make this logo shout freshness as loud as our coffee does. I hope you guys like it as much as we do. If you’d like to chat about it ping either me or Anneliese an email, or pop by for a coffee. You can also check out Anneliese’s presentation (Blogpost_Pres), which explains the whole thing in a bit more detail.

Stephen

One of the biggest challenges to running a startup is achieving a lot with a small team and little resource, and occasionally we balls up. That’s what we did over the weekend. I’d like to explain what happened, why it happened, and what we’ve done about it.

What did we do?
We launched a new marketing campaign, which offered new customers a free v60 if they joined Pact. It was promoted through Facebook and Twitter. We promised to do something great for existing customers, but that it wouldn’t be available for a month. Quite rightly, some of you let your feelings be known (see below).

Screen_Shot_2014-08-11_at_02_18_41_pm_edit

Screen_Shot_2014-08-11_at_02_18_55_pm_edit

Screen_Shot_2014-08-11_at_02_18_25_pm_edit

Why couldn’t existing customers have the deal too?
The truth is that most new customers have already had a great signup offer – likely your first bag for £1. If you took up that deal we paid roughly £5 for you to try our coffee, because we believe in letting the product to the talking. If someone takes a free v60 when they sign up it will also cost Pact about £5. We can’t afford to do both for everyone.

So, what will you do for existing customers?
We will send you a V60 with your next bag of coffee for an extra fiver, which is cheaper than you can find it anywhere else. Just send an email to ahoy@pactcoffee.com with ‘V60 STARTER KIT’ in the title and we’ll do the rest. If you’d like your next coffee ground to suit a v60 please make sure you also visit your account page and update your settings too.

Anything else?
Yes. If you have any more feedback on this, or other things we could improve please email Pete (Head of Community, pete@pactcoffee.com) or Stephen (CEO, stephen@pactcoffee.com) and we’ll arrange a time to give you a call.

Just one more thing…
We’re a small business, and we make mistakes. I hope that the thing that sets us apart is that, when we do, we hold our hands up, fix the problem, and figure out how to stop this happening again. I hope we’ve made amends.

 

Stephen Rapoport
Founder, PactCoffee.com

Thanks to everyone who attended Pact’s breakfast club on Thursday morning – we really enjoyed sharing our new Espresso Blend with a bunch of our customers. And we hope they enjoyed tasting it. Judging by the brilliant tasting notes that were offered up by our Breakfast Club guinea-pigs, they did.

Will coffee

Will, our Head of Coffee, has actually used these tasting notes – along with his own – to come up with the description of our new Espresso Blend:

A Black Forest Gateau Espresso, drenched in cream.

So, where did that come from? 

  • One of the most common observations from those taking part was that the coffee was ‘chocolatey’.
  • Most people also found it ‘creamy and smooth’
  • Then some of the tasters identified more subtle aspects of the coffee, noting that it was ‘nutty’ with hints of ‘something fruity’. This was translated into coffee lingo by Will as ‘a cherry jam sweetness’ and ‘an almond flavour’, which people seemed to agree with.

All these things spelt only one thing for Will, as you read up there. Once he’d suggesteda Black Forest Gateau Espresso, drenched in cream’, there were lots of nods and we knew we were on to a good thing.

To find out more about other things you might be able to taste in this coffee, click on the relevant ‘Find Out More’ button on our coffee page.

Gutted that you missed our Breakfast Club? Don’t worry! We’ll be holding coffee tasting sessions every couple of weeks – look out for them on our Twitter feed and our newsletter.

Irked that these tasting sessions are in London and you aren’t? We’d be happy to supply you with everything you need to run your own coffee tasting Breakfast Club. Simply pop us an email on ahoy@pactcoffee.com letting us know the details of the event you’d like to host.

Over the past four weeks we’ve taken the first steps in our journey towards becoming a robustly ethical coffee company. The response to our first blog post about Fairtrade was phenomenal – we were so happy to start a discussion about something so many of you are passionate about.

Following the response, we worked hard to address all your questions, but we thought the subject deserved a bit more back and forth. So we took the chance to work with all of you to develop our fledgling ethical coffee sourcing policies – and that’s how the Pact Ethical Coffee Forum was born.

The event meant people could come to Pact HQ, or join us online, to engage in a live discussion with Stephen, Rob and Will about how we source our coffee.

We began with Stephen, our founder, explaining our position on Fairtrade certification, and what Pact has planned to ensure that we trade coffee ethically. This was followed by an hour and a half of rich and informative discussions, in which Stephen, Rob and Will fielded questions from the in-room audience, Twitter and Google Hangouts Q&A. Needless to say, it was an exciting and unique challenge. (In case you missed it, you can watch the whole thing on our YouTube channel.)

PECF - google hangouts

A screenshot of our live stream, with questions from Alison and Cynthia.

 

So, what’s next? What does the future hold for Pact’s ethical sourcing policies? Let’s break it down:

Our sourcing Pact
In roughly six months time, 95% of our coffee will be independently sourced by Will (our Head of Coffee). This means that we can make the journey from bean to cup more transparent than ever. For every coffee we buy direct from the farmer, we will publish how much over the Fairtrade rate we have paid and guarantee that this percentage will always be higher than 25%. These figures will be externally audited by KPMG, so you don’t just have to take our word for it. In addition, we will generally post more about the farms and our farmers (including a selfie or two from Will).

An exciting project
An exciting result of the overall discussion, beginning with the very first blog post, is our proposed research project. If we choose not to be Fairtrade certified and cannot afford to audit all of our farms, we need to find an alternative. There are plenty of issues that we could look into, but as a small company we need to prioritise.

Our main focus will be examining how much the workers get paid on the speciality coffee farms we source from. As the workers hired by the farmers are skilled at picking the coffee beans at exactly the right time, our hypothesis is that they are paid well above the national minimum wage. This is to both reward their skill and to encourage them to return for the next harvest. Whilst anecdotal evidence strongly backs up this claim, we know that this is not good enough. So we have partnered with SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies) to conduct research into the connection between speciality coffee farms and the wages of the coffee bean pickers who work on them. Initial conversations have highlighted the potential of using big data, through crowdsourcing information, but we would love any other suggestions on how we could carry out the research effectively.

Other priorities include transportation ethics (our carbon footprint, shipping workers’ rights etc), environmental sustainability of the coffee farms, and whether we can have a wider social impact on the coffee communities.

We don’t profess to have all the answers but, with your help and some hard work at Pact HQ, we hope to find them.

PECF - Geoff

An interesting tweet from Geoff Sanson on Twitter.

If you would like to add to this list of research areas, please feel free to comment below. We’re open to all your ideas.