Anyone else missing Brazil now that the World Cup is done and dusted? If you’ve got a FIFA hangover and need a little hair of the dog pick-me-up, have we got the cocktail for you!

Our coffee/cocktail enthusiast, Carol, has shared with us her caffeinated twist on Brazil’s national cocktail: the caipirinha. Made with the Brazilian spirit, cachaca (pronounced ka-sha-sa), this ‘coffeerinha’ is refreshing with a nice balance of tart and sweet. Don’t worry if cachaca isn’t your thing, you can also use vodka or rum.

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Psssst… before you get started, why not have a go at infusing your spirits and coffee with Carol’s quick and easy guide here > 

Ingredients
50ml coffee-infused cachaca (or coffee-infused rum/vodka)
1/2 lime (cut into quarters/crosshatched halves)
1 heaped tbsp superfine sugar
Ice (crushed or cubed – up to you!)

Method
1. Pop lime into your serving glass and cover with sugar – use enough to give lime wedges a decent coating.
2. Press down firmly but gently with a muddler (or back of your spoon if you don’t have a muddler) to extract juice/oils and dissolve sugar.
3. Fill glass to the top with ice and pour the infused spirit over.
4. If using crushed ice, give it a little stir and garnish with a slice of lime. If using cubed ice, you’ll need to stir it or pop the whole lot in a shaker and give it a good shake (about ten seconds). Adjust if you need to, but give it a little stir in between.

PACT COFFEE TIP: Serve as is without straws to fully enjoy the lime and coffee aromas. If you’re with friends, pass it around to share the joy – it’s part of the culture. Saúde!

Remember Carol? She’s the one who gave us that wonderful berry, espresso and gin cocktail recipe a couple of weeks ago. Well she’s sent us another genius method for combining our love of coffee with alcohol (that’s a vice two-for-one people)! Her tips for infusing coffee with alcohol are inspired and, as she puts it:

“There’s definitely no need to heat your booze – the alcohol replaces heat in this extraction (yay science.)”

So, fancy giving the science of infusing a try? If you do, Carol recommends using the Brazilian spirit cachaca, but she said vodka and rum will do just fine too.

Slow and steady method (which most people tend to do):
Put 50g of whole coffee beans into 700-750ml of your chosen spirit. Some people choose to crack the beans slightly between two spoons in order to speed up the process a little bit. Filter out after 24 hours, though feel free to remove earlier or later depending on your taste. To do this you can use a muslin, a cheesecloth or a tea strainer, squeezing out as much of the spirit as you can.

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Quick and dirty method for Aeropress:
Rinse your Aeropress filter and invert just as you would when making a coffee. Use one scoop of Pact Coffee and cover with the spirit until you reach the ‘1’ mark on the side. Stir to fully saturate the grinds and wait for five minutes (as with the slow method, you can adjust the time to suit your taste). Screw on the filter cap, invert into a cup and plunge. Keep pressing even if you hear a hissing sound for maximum coffee extraction. Feel free to dilute with more uninfused spirit if you fancy.

Quick and dirty method for Pour Over:
Pop the coffee and spirit into a glass, jar or mug and stir (work ratios out based on 50g to 700ml). Rinse a filter while you leave it to infuse for a few minutes then pour through the filter and enjoy.

Quick and dirty method for Cafetiere:
Do your infusion in the cafetiere itself! According to Carol, you can use your coarse grind as normal, and work ratios out as for the pourover method. Stir, leave to infuse for a few minutes, plunge slowly and pour.

So there you have it. Let us know how your boozy coffee experiments go by commenting below, or giving us a holler on Twitter

LeAnn Rimes

Sorry Ms. Rimes, but our hearts belong to LeAnn Grinds.

Q: What’s blonde, loves country-pop music and makes sure your Pact coffee is ground to perfection?

A: Our new grinder: LeAnn Grinds!

Well, she may not be blonde, but the other two things are true.

Do you remember a little while ago, when we asked you to help us name our new grinder? Well, LeAnn won in a landslide and we couldn’t be happier.

Thanks for all your help. We couldn’t have done it without you. LeAnn will be joining Pact’s other unsung heroes soon, so keep an eye out for snaps of the girl herself.

As you can see on the left hand side, this post has been written by me, Brendan. I’m a Customer Champion here at Pact, so you may have seen me in such emails as ‘Dude, where’s my coffee?’. But besides helping our customers out, I’m really passionate about our ‘green credentials’ here. So you may find me popping up on the blog from time to time, just to let you know how we’re helping our coffee farmers out in return for their excellent beans.

Fairtrade 101

Not so long ago you had to keep a keen eye out for the Fairtrade logo on your weekly shop. Nowadays, products with the small green, blue and black insignia pop up so often it’s easy forget what it means. Put simply Fairtrade is an auditing firm. Companies pay Fairtrade to audit their farms for safe and fair practices, in turn farmers are guaranteed to be paid minimum wage. This wage fluctuates but is around $1.40 per pound, depending on the region and includes an extra $0.20 to spend on community projects.

We at Pact agree that this is a great deal. Businesses get the products they need and farmers are treated fairly. So why bring it up? Well…

Pact is not Fairtrade certified but on average, we pay farmers more than the Fairtrade rate. 

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When Fairtrade was launched in 1992, it was the only way a conscientious coffee consumer could ensure their brew was ethical. Well, just two decades later, there are far more viable and sustainable alternatives. And guess what? Pact Coffee is one of them!

Truth is, comparing Fairtrade certified beans and specialty coffee is like saying chalk and cheese both go well on crackers. Fairtrade certification is designed for the commodity market (the supermarket shelf and the high-street coffee chain) but makes no measures to ensure quality. As quality is so important to us at Pact, Fairtrade certification is both unsuitable and unnecessary!

So Pact Coffee tastes better, “but what about your farmers?” I hear you say.

What are we doing to make sure our beans are sourced ethically?

Because we buy high-quality coffee beans, the farmers receive a higher price for their produce, on average, than their Fairtrade counterpart. How do we know that? Well, we know our farmers.

When we love the taste of a coffee, we want more of it. So we return to our farmers year after year to buy their beans. This is fantastic for them and for us! They have the security of knowing that their next harvest will be bought by us (so they can plan ahead and invest money into their farm and community) and you guys and girls can sleep at night knowing that your favourite Colombian is coming back next year.

And it gets better.

How can this get any better you ask? Well, have you ever wondered whether the man who lovingly farmed your coffee has a size seven or size eight boot? Or what his family eats for breakfast? No? Ok, fair enough, but if you did want to know, that’s something we can tell you!

Our relationships are not just long-lasting but direct too, and it works the other way. Farmers can contact us with any problems that they have or just to update us on how our coffee beans are doing this year.

So next time you don’t see the Fairtrade logo on your bag of Pact coffee, remember that it means that not only do we love our coffee, we love the people who bring it to us as well. That’s why we pay higher prices, return to them each year and are always available to help them and vice versa.

A little note…

As our fantastic Head of Coffee, Will Corby, starts to source our green beans independently, we can start to publish more information about the farmers that we work with and the price they are paid per pound of coffee. Watch this space…

Pact Coffee Beans

A little correction…

Due to the high number of interesting and insightful comments, we have decided to make our position on ethical coffee sourcing clearer and more detailed. And we’ll begin with a little correction:

We can guarantee that Mercanta pay above the Fairtrade rate every single time they buy coffee from a farmer.
We apologise for the confusion that the term ‘on average’ has caused.

Are we planning to become Fairtrade? If not, why?

One of the most frequently asked questions was whether we would choose to have our farms Fairtrade audited in the future? And if not, then why?

There are two reasons why it’s unlikely Pact will become Fairtrade certified:

Firstly, we believe Pact does not have to be Fairtrade certified in order to conduct sustainable economic practices. While the idea of paying above a certain price for coffee beans sounds great, there is a downside. There’s a disconnection between the price and quality of the coffee. We believe that instead of guaranteeing a minimum price for coffee, regardless of quality, we should pay more for better quality beans. By placing emphasis on coffee’s quality and ethics, rather than just the latter, we are able to foster relationships with farmers that last decades, ensuring their lovely tasting beans are constantly in demand.

A great example. San Antonio is a Guatemalan coffee farm. We bought our first batch of coffee from Antonio Pullin, the owner of the farm, last year. Because we were so impressed by the quality of the coffee, we agreed to buy his next harvest in advance at a deservedly high price. This meant that he could invest in his farm before his 2014 harvest was sold, knowing that he had a guaranteed income from us. Antonio wants to work with us because it makes his business sustainable and more profitable, and we want to work with Antonio because he grows and processes great coffee!

Secondly, there’s the issue of variety. If we bought large quantities of coffee from a small number of farmers, Fairtrade auditing would be an inexpensive and economically logical option. However, we make it our business to buy small batches of seasonal coffee from a large range of farms. The cost of paying for Fairtrade to audit each of our farms would be extremely high, particularly for a young company like us.

Pact’s ethical sourcing policy

We understand that it’s not enough to just say why we aren’t Fairtrade. That’s why we are committing to a viable, sustainable and transparent alternative policy for ethical sourcing. As I explained in the ‘little note’ section of the original blog, we will soon begin sourcing our coffee beans independently of Mercanta (our middle man).

The first of our independently sourced coffees will arrive in the next couple of months. This means we can publish the prices we pay to each of our farmers. Having a close and direct relationship with our farmers will also enable us to provide you with more detailed descriptions of who they are and how we work together.

Over the next couple of weeks Pact will begin developing our own ethical coffee sourcing policy. Stephen Rapoport (Founder & CEO), Will Corby (Head of Coffee) and Rob Carter (CFO) will be looking to answer three key questions that have arisen for this project (partly from your comments below):

1. How much more than the Fairtrade rate will Pact pay its farmers?
2. What external auditing body will Pact use to guarantee that we follow through and stick to our policy 100%?
3. Third, as many of you pointed out, we cannot currently guarantee that the labourers who pick our coffee are paid a national minimum wage as Fairtrade works towards. So we’ll be asking what extra measures can we put in place on wages for labourers and on fostering the relationships between the farms and their communities?

By addressing these issues Stephen, Will and Rob will be able to clearly map out Pact’s code of ethics and offer even more transparency to our community.

Get involved…
To keep you all in the loop, we are planning on holding an ethical sourcing event at Pact’s Bermondsey HQ. Customers and non-customers will be invited to sit down with Stephen, Will and Rob to express their concerns regarding how we source our coffee. We would love everyone to come down and give us constructive advice around our ethical sourcing policy.

If you would like to contact Stephen (stephen@pactcoffee.com), Will (will@pactcoffee.com) and Rob (rob@pactcoffee.com) directly about Pact and ethical coffee sourcing, they would love you to hear from you.

Coffee satsuma experiment

Oooh, satsuma-y!

It started as a whisper, a rumour passed down through generations of coffee buffs. Word on the street (and the internet) spread tales of satsumas being used as Aeropress filters creating a citrus infused coffee. Naturally, at Pact HQ these hushed tones became curious shouts of “what if..?”

“What would happen,” the people asked “if we did put a slice of clementine in an Aeropress?”

We couldn’t let it go any longer. Being fearless coffee adventurers, had to try it – and we thought you might like to try it too!

So we placed a slice of satsuma (about 5mm thick) inside an Aeropress between the filter and grounds. We brewed it just as we would a normal Aeropress (don’t know how to use an Aeropress? Take a look at our Aeropress brew guide >) using El Carmen. It was a little trickier than usual, because when it came time to plunge the satsuma created more resistance, but the results were interesting.

Coffee satsuma experiment

One small step for man…

We passed the finished cup around the office and everyone had a sip. The responses were mixed and in the end the Pact team was divided. Junta thought it was nice but wouldn’t make it his regular, while Julie thought the flavour was Cointreau-esque. Rob, ever the purest, simply gave it the thumbs down.

Because it was different, in the end it became a matter of preference, and as Stephen said: “It’s a bit weird, but I like it.”

So there you go. Another coffee experiment under our belts as we all continue to learn! If you decide to give it a go – just to find out which side of the fence you sit on – don’t forget to tell us all about it on Twitter or Facebook!

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Callum makes a wonderful coffee guinea pig.

Last week something really brilliant happened.

One of our Pact customers, @helendaykin came up with the idea of having a ‘virtual coffee’ with a couple of her Twitter pals (Mary Farmer and Chris Ratcliffe). Here’s how it went down (thanks Helen for tagging us so we could see what you were up to):

#10oclockcoffee Pact Coffee

“Wow.” we thought “What a neat way to indulge in a coffee. And how cool to use Twitter to enjoy your coffee with fellow coffee-lovers.”

In fact we thought it was so neat that we’ve been following in their footsteps. For the last week or so we’ve been enjoying our own 10am coffee at Pact HQ. Why 10am? Because, as Helen puts it “5:30am is emergency coffee then 10am is coffee to savour!”

So next time it’s 10am and you’re in the mood for a cuppa, why not take five minutes to join us for a virtual coffee on Twitter? Show us how your brew has gone, let us know what you’re drinking or pitch in with some full on tasting notes!

Check in with the hashtag #10oclockcoffee to get involved.

If you’ve visited our Coffee Menu recently and clicked to find out more about any of our coffees, you may have noticed a bit of a shake up. Oh yes, these pages now reference some slightly serious coffee-tasting stuff…

Four cupping coffee qualities

You may know exactly what we’re on about when we say a coffee has an ‘orange acidity’ but if not this blog post should help. When looking to add new coffees to our menu we consider four different qualities:

Flavour – It may sound weird but this is not what happens on your tongue (that’s taste) but what happens in the space behind your nose. Flavour is usually delicate and relies on memories of things you’ve tasted before rather than a bold physical sensation.
Flavour examples – raspberries, chocolate, hazelnuts, florals

Sweetness – The sensation of sweetness on the tongue, which can remind you of lots of different things.
Sweetness examples – white refined sugar, brown sugar, fruit sugars.

Acidity – This actually has nothing to do with the pH of the coffee, but refers to the tangy, fruity, brightness that creates complex tastes in the coffee.
Acidity examples – oranges, apples, grapes.

Mouthfeel – Describes the way a coffee would move or dance in your mouth.
Mouthfeel examples - heavy, round, light, tea-like, coating, juicy.

But the proof of the pudding is in the tasting, so do watch out for these things when you get your next Pact delivery. And if you have any questions about what you can taste in your Pact Coffee then feel free to email them to Will (our head of coffee)