There have been some great and important Wills through history. That guy who wrote Taming of the Shrew, that guy who conquered stuff and that guy who played Captain Kirk.
But in the history of Pact Coffee there have been no Wills more important than this man:
His name is Will Corby and he is our new Head of Coffee.
When we started looking for a Head of Coffee we knew we wanted someone who knew their stuff. But we also knew we wanted someone who shares our mission to deliver specialty coffee without the snobbery. Will really stood out. He’s passionate about coffee and his expertise is without question – but don’t worry, he doesn’t want to shove a load of intimidating jargon down your throat. He hates that and so do we.
So, what’s he going to do here? (Because he’s going to be busy.) How will his work affect your enjoyment of Pact Coffee? (Because it will.) And what makes him tick?
We decided to find out with a good old Q&A session…
Where have you come from?
Wales. I grew up in Cardiff. I always wanted a Tom Jones accent but it never really happened. My go-to karaoke song is “It’s Not Unsual” but it doesn’t sound the same without the Welsh twang.
Okay. Where have you come from in terms of coffee?
In 2009 I started my own coffee market stall in Cardiff, The Caffeine Kid. It’s actually still going and I pop back to pull shots most Sundays. Then Peter James (who does the roasting for Pact and has been a friend of mine for nearly ten years) put me forward for a job at Mercanta, the specialty coffee merchants. I was a Coffee Hunter at Mercanta and was also Head of UK Sales and Espresso Blend Development. Since I also handled Honduran buying, it was basically a dream job for a coffee geek like me.
I loved it at Mercanta but moving on to join Pact was an opportunity that was too exciting to miss out on…
When did you know you wanted to work with coffee?
I actually got into coffee by accident. I didn’t know what to do when left uni, so took a job as a delivery driver for a coffee company. One day the owner asked me to help out at a trade show. While there I was made an espresso (by a guy who went on to become the World Barista Champion) and my eyes were opened. As soon as I tasted specialty coffee I knew I wanted in. It was love at first taste.
What will you be doing at Pact?
I’ll be buying coffee to suit the taste of the Pact community and helping to clarify the taste and flavour profile of each coffee, so people can have a better idea of what they’re ordering. There’s a fair bit of science in explaining the cup profile (the way the tastes and flavours dance around) of a coffee, I want to remove any snobbery and make specialty coffee easily accessible. I love to brew coffee, so I’m going to help out any customers who want to hone their brewing skills and get the most from their kit.
Which bit are you most looking forward to?
Sharing. Opening up the world of specialty coffee for anyone who’s interested. I want everyone to be able to enjoy the amazing coffee that we source at Pact on the same level that I do and I am excited to share the techniques that I learned to get the best out of specialty coffee and equipment with anyone that would like to use them.
What are the key things you look at when you’re tasting a coffee?
Sweetness – The sensation of sweetness on the tongue, which can remind you of lots of different things; 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.
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 can be things like raspberries, chocolate, hazelnuts or it can even be floral.
Mouthfeel – Describes the way a coffee would move or dance in your mouth, e.g. coating, juicy, tea-like, heavy, round, light.
(Don’t worry, we’re going to explore all this in more posts coming soon…)
What’s the best cup of coffee you’ve ever had?
It was from a farm in El Salvador called Finca Suiza, which just happened to be the first coffee farm I ever visited. The coffee had a fresh raspberry flavour with honey sweetness, lime acidity and a dry cocoa finish and the farm was perched on the side of the Santa Anna Volcano. Epic.
Little boast: This was a coffee I used when I won the London and South East Barista Championship in 2010. The judges awarded me Best Espresso, Best Cappuccino and Best Signature drink although the awards should probably have gone straight to Pancho the owner for the farm for all his hard work.
What’s your preferred brew method?
V60 or espresso. V60 for the light elegant long drink. Espresso for the intense sweetness and coating mouthfeel.
Would you rather have your whole body shaved every day for a year or never drink coffee again?
Pass the razor.