Next Tuesday (2nd December) Pact Coffee is going to be fuelling an invite-only Evans Cycles event in Central London. Coffee, check. Cycling, check. And here comes the doozie; Chris Hoy will be in attendance for an hour-long Q&A. Olympic gold-medal-winning all-round cycle legend, check.

So why would we dangle this in front of you unless you had the chance to join us? We wouldn’t.

Meet Chris Hoy Pact Coffee

To win one of five tickets for the event, which takes place at 6.30pm at Evans Cycles on Mortimer Street, simply tweet us a photo of your good self enjoying a Pact Coffee in the saddle of your own two-wheeled steed – along with the tag #pactcoffeehoy

Will (our Head of Coffee and Chris Hoy’s #1 fan) will be choosing his favourites at 4pm on Wednesday (26th November), so please do tweet your entry by then…

 

 

When new people sign up for Pact deliveries our Customer Champion team tend to get a lot of questions about how we do things here. Most people are used to supermarket coffee, so entering the wonderful world of Pact Coffee deliveries inevitably leads to comparisons…

Supermarkets are excellent places for stocking your cupboards fast and with minimal effort. They’re also good for working on upper body strength, developing skill at steering unco-operative wheeled objects and building resistance to bruising on knees and calves (as a direct result of said unco-operative wheeled objects). But are they a great place to buy great coffee? We don’t think so. But since we’re kind of biased, we’ll justify that with three things supermarkets do, that Pact Coffee doesn’t…trolley

1. THEY DARK ROAST THEIR COFFEE.

We deliberately roast our beans lighter than the industry average. 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. Anyone roasting coffee faces two options:

They can 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. Think of it in terms of toast; lightly toasted bread can taste very different depending on the loaf, the recipe it was baked using and the batch it was baked in. Burnt toast always tastes like burnt toast.

They can lightly roast their beans, like we do at Pact. This maintains the natural flavours of the coffee, while adding some lovely light roast notes too – producing the matt, lighter coloured bean. A great example is a Honduran coffee we recently had on our menu, Finca La Montana. By lightly roasting this coffee, we think we managed to retain its distinctly fruity notes but also added a lovely toffee sweetness through the roasting process.

strengthscale (1)

2. THEY RATE THEIR COFFEE ON STRENGTH

This scale is actually a bit of a blunt instrument when considering the lovely depth of flavour that a coffee can have. How ‘strong’ a coffee tastes also depends massively on how the coffee is brewed.

When supermarkets refer to ‘strength’ they are actually talking about how light or dark the coffee is roasted. For a supermarket coffees this tends to be at the dark end of the scale. Pact Coffees, however, tend to sit in the middle of the scale.

As a result of this we sometimes get emails requesting a ‘stronger’ coffee. For people who are after something a little more punchy, and use a drip, Aeropress or cafetiere to brew their coffee, we usually recommend trying one of the following:

Increase your brew time.
Allow your cafetiere or aeropress to sit for a little while longer than you usually would. For a V60 let your coffee bloom (that’s the bit where it bubbles at the start) for a bit longer than usual too.

Reduce your grind size.
This is a great way to boost the ‘strength’ of a coffee made with a cafetiere or a V60 but not for an Aeropress. Be careful though, you should only reduce the grind size by a small amount (i.e. from coarse to slightly less coarse) or your equipment won’t like it!

Change your coffee to water ratio.
Our golden rule is to use 60g – about four heaped tablespoons or 12 heaped teaspoons – per litre of water. But you can experiment with that to find out what suits your taste.

goldenratioGolden Ratio:
This ratio is a great starting point but it’s a good idea to experiment with this stuff.

There’s a fine line between brewing the coffee for longer to make the taste more impactful and overdoing it and making it taste bad. As with lots of things coffee-related, trial and error is the best way of finding what works for you.

3. THEIR FRESH ISN’T THAT FRESH

The ‘use by date’ on your average bag of supermarket coffee can make for relatively interesting reading. It usually allows for a year from the month it’s roasted, which means supermarket coffee can easily sit around for months before you plop it in your trolley.

And it isn’t just supermarket own-brand coffees that fall into that camp. Some big-name roasters will bag up coffee and actually store it for a while once it’s been roasted, before eventually sending it out to the shops. The idea is to generate consistency in flavour. As Will, our Head of Coffee, puts it, “as far as they’re concerned, if one bag is going to taste stale it’s best that it all tastes stale.” (He gets pretty passionate about these things).

What’s your take on supermarket coffee? Tweet us @pactcoffee to get involved.

As seen in the November issue of our free coffee magazine The Perc. 

Schofield

You know how much we love cycling, and we’re always up for helping a worthy cause, so when ITV announced that their annual Text Santa charity fundraiser was a 24 hour static cycle, we couldn’t help but get involved.

And what can we say… a whole day and night with Phillip Schofield really sealed the deal.

So, on Monday, December 1st, the Pact Team will be at the ITV studios pedalling with all our might for a full 24 hours to help some incredible UK charities. We’re hoping to raise thousands of pounds, and with your help we might just make that happen. There are two ways to get involved:

1. You can donate via our JustGiving page.
2. You can get on your bike… well, our bike, really.

Fancy Meeting Phillip?
We’ve put a team together, but we could always do with a little more manpower. So if you’d like to be a part of Team Pact, we’d welcome the extra sets of legs with open arms.

Email ahoy@pactcoffee.com to get involved – you may even get to meet Phillip Schofield.

A little bit about Text Santa.
Since it started in 2011, Text Santa has managed to raise £15m and greater awareness for  UK charities. All the money this year will be split between Teenage Cancer Trust, Guide Dogs, WellChild, Marie Curie Cancer Care, Alzheimer’s Society and Together for Short Lives. These charities all have vital projects in communities across the UK, which desperately need funding. Money raised will transform the lives of so many people who are reliant on support from these organisations.

In our experience, coffee is all about temptation. And even though Will, our Head of Coffee, is a professional, he’s not immune to the lure of a really, really good coffee. And that’s how Pact’s Limited Edition Coffees was born…

Finca Eleta Pact CoffeeKnow your limits.
The number of people we send out coffee to is growing all the time. That’s something we find exciting. But it’s also something that requires lots of planning. To ensure that everyone gets the chance to try the coffees on our Pact Coffee Menu, Will needs to order a minimum number of sacks. At the moment that minimum is 20 sacks.

Then something special comes along.
Setting limits is all well and good but sometimes Will encounters and falls in love with a coffee from a small farm, where there’s no way he can get hold of the minimum number of sacks. Up until recently he’s found it heartbreaking to turn down such good coffee…

Hello Limited Edition Coffee!
The solution was to give Will a lifeline, so that each month he could break his own rule and add a coffee to the menu where fewer than 20 sacks are available. We call it Limited Edition Coffee. Will calls it a coffee-buyer’s dream.

So watch out for Will’s specially selected Limited Edition Coffees each month:

  • They come in little black bags rather than the usual brown.
  • They cost a bit extra (usually £2).
  • They’re never around for long…

To find out about Will’s latest Limited Edition Coffee take a look at your Pact Account Page.

Finca Eleta Pact Coffee

Stephen_chuffed

We know him as “The Grande Fromage”, but to the people at The Food Awards Company, our founder Stephen is simply: Investec Food & Drink Entrepreneur of the Year 2014 – and, needless to say, we’re pretty proud of him. He received this honour last week, at a new annual award launched by The Food Awards Company and partnered with the Business is GREAT Britain campaign.

Rubbing shoulders with the movers and shakers.
The awards were set up to showcase innovation in the food and drink sector and we’d agree it comes at a good time given the British food and drink scene is buzzing right now! The judges in the awards were an impressive bunch of entrepreneurs themselves including Julian Metcalfe of Pret a Manger, Lord Bilimoria of Cobra Beer, Chantal Coady OBE of Rococo Chocolate and Luke Johnson of Pizza Express.

The event gave us the chance to meet so many awesome businesses, from bigger names such as the Saucy Fish Company and Fever-Tree drinks, through to the smaller but rapidly growing Mallow & Marsh and Joes Gourmet Foods.

We owe it all to you.
A big thank you to everyone who has tried us out and stuck with us over the first two years of Pact’s existence. We’re going to continue to work hard to make receiving great quality, freshly-roasted coffee as and when you need it as delightful as possible!

Vintage self-help guy, Napoleon Hill once said, “A quitter never wins and a winner never quits.” And that’s how we feel about coffee. We’re always looking for ways to improve the drinking experience. Josie Robson talks to Will Corby (our Head of Coffee) about his five scientifically-sound tips to help improve your cuppa.

Will

Follow Will’s top tips for improving your cup of coffee.

Tip 1: Moisture is your enemy.
The instructions on some supermarket coffee bags advocate storing it in the fridge, but it’s not something we go along with. In fact, there’s a well-documented debate on our blog about the whole in-fridge/out-of-fridge issue.

The reason we can’t get behind it, is that the frequent change in temperature results in the buildup of condensation. You can’t usually see condensation forming on coffee, but if it’s there it’ll be acting like a miniature, over-keen cafetiere, sucking all the flavour out of the coffee before you’re ready to drink it. Storing your coffee in the resealable pouches we provide should do the trick but an airtight canister also works wonders.

Will says: “Storing your coffee right is a quick win, which will result in coffee that tastes more zingy, brews with more effervescence and has more of a vibrant, golden colour.”

Tip 2: Keep it pure.
It may sound a little ‘lah-de-dah’ to use only filtered water when brewing your coffee. But tap water contains chlorine and other chemicals, which stick around even after the kettle has boiled. These can be more or less prevalent depending on where you live.

As well as removing these chemicals, the best water filters also replace them with preferable goodies like magnesium and calcium. These new chemicals are more attractive or – as Will puts it –  ‘sexier’ to coffee…

Will says: “Filtered water makes it easier for coffee to mingle with the water and unleash its deliciousness more easily.”

Tip 3: Freshness is your friend.
There’s a reason we roast and ship our coffee to you at the last possible moment; it’s because coffee can start to go stale from about a month after it’s roasted and ground. To put that into perspective, supermarket coffee is usually roasted between six and 12 months before you buy it.

So we know that freshness equals delicious, but why is that exactly?

Will says: “Good coffee is like a good loaf of bread. It tastes best when it’s fresh from the oven, or roaster because it’s in there that the flavours come to life, and they only last for so long. When coffee goes stale it starts to taste a bit woody, so that’s what you need to watch out for.”

Tip 4: Remember the Golden Ratio (then forget it).
The Golden Ratio for coffee is 60g per litre of water – that’s about one heaped tablespoon per cup. It’s worth remembering though, that this is only the Golden Ratio in our neck of the woods. In Scandinavia, for example, they go for 80g-100g per litre.

goldenratio

Will’s own personal Golden Ratio is 72g per litre. He uses this as his starting point and depending on the strength of the coffee he increases or decreases it from there. If you’re wondering how he works out how much 72g is, he measures it. Yes, he’s that guy.

Will says: “You wouldn’t wear a pair of shoes that are the wrong size, it would hurt your feet. It’s the same for coffee, you’ll know after your first cup whether it feels like it should be stronger or weaker and you should go with that.”

Tip 5: Don’t apologise for what you like.
Sometimes people come to coffee-tasting events here looking sheepish. “I like sugar in my coffee,” they confess, looking ashamed. “I usually drink my coffee milky,” they explain, like it’s a dirty little secret. As far as we’re concerned, neither of those is a bad thing. Coffee snobs may shun sugar and malign milk. But not us.

Will says: “Coffee is there to be enjoyed. So find that enjoyment however you like. If it tastes good, you’ve nailed it, so forget the snobs.”

Don’t forget…
It’s all about personal taste. There are a lot of coffees out there that won’t be your cup of tea. That’s why we have at least five coffees on our menu at any time. If you fancy experimenting you can set any of our coffees to be the next one we send you on your Pact Account Page.

Got your own tip for the perfect cup of coffee? Tweet it to us @pactcoffee, and we’ll share it with your fellow customers.

As seen in the September issue of our free coffee magazine The Perc, which comes free with bags of Pact.