I received an email recently from a coffee roasting firm called Boun Beans, asking me if I’d like to try their freshly roasted coffee beans, to which I replied something along the lines of… daft question ;-), of course I would.
Now of course I’m not going to turn down the chance to try any coffee, I love the stuff. If you’re a coffee roaster and you want someone to sample your coffee, feel free to send me some beans, I’ll try them, and if I love them I’ll blog about it, if I don’t – I won’t, so you don’t need to worry about me slagging you off ;-). In this case though I was really interested in trying the coffee, because the roasting method Boun Beans use is something I’ve not tried before, as far as I’m aware anyway – they use a traditional Eritrean hand roasting method.
They sent me two beans to try, an Ethiopian Yirgacheffe, and a Jamaican Blue Mountain, and WOW, both were stunningly good coffees. I would go as far as to say that these are both among the best coffee’s I’ve ever tasted. They were both a medium roast, and I tasted them both via Espresso, flat white, V60 and Aeropress, and enjoyed them all tremendously.
So, I got hold of the founder of Boun Beans, Robel Iyassu, and asked him a few questions about himself, his business, and his coffee:
What’s your background, and how did you end up running a coffee roasting business?
I was born and raised in London. My parents are of Eritrean origin. My background is in psychology and I worked as a psychologist in the NHS for nearly 10 years across London and Manchester. It was after driving my colleagues mad by constantly making coffee for them – instant mix, cafetière that I decided my coffee taste obsession is more than just an interest. It’s my life!
Your roasting process is specific to your culture; how much has your culture impacted on your business?
In my culture, coffee is sacred and the process of roasting coffee beans, grinding them and brewing them is done on a daily basis, sometimes several times a day – known as coffee ceremonies. So much to the point that guests come from other families to observe and partake in this coffee ceremony, usually conducted by the lady of the house as participants sit and admire the process. Midway through roasting, the beans are placed on a round woven mat and brought round to each person attending the ceremony, who will be sat in a circle, and they are encouraged to wave their hands slowly over the smoking roasted beans and utter something spiritual like ‘Thank our Lord’ or ‘God bless us’. I’ve witnessed this almost everyday of my life. Needless to say the coffee produced by this roasting process is out of this world! I decided that sharing this process with fellow coffee enthusiast would be great, and hopefully there’ll be an appreciation for the personalised way that the coffee is prepared for people.
We pride ourselves on sourcing top quality coffee beans, and roasting them in the best way. We usually only buy Grade 1 beans, which really stresses our suppliers out because they’re not used to such an obsession with Grade 1 beans!
So how exactly do you roast?
The coffee beans are roasted in a deep tin pot with a long handle. The tin pot is called a ‘menkeskesha’. Once the beans are placed in the pot they are held over a low to medium heat and shuffled constantly until the desired roast is reached (light / medium / dark).
Traditionally they are turned / shuffled in a left to right motion, however, for our process we shuffle them in a circular motion. This way the beans can rotate fully whilst in the pan which helps us get a more flavour from the beans. The aroma at this point is glorious. This is the traditional East African way.
We also frown upon keeping beans in containers overnight. At the moment we only roast when orders come in, we have enough people in our team to make that possible. I don’t believe coffee beans should be stored in containers for more than several hours. I feel like you are imprisoning the beans in a way! We aim to process / roast the coffee when it is ordered and dispatch same day. If the order is received after the royal mail cut off time, then we wait till the next morning to roast and send it out immediately once they have cooled down.
One hundred grams of green coffee beans takes about 5-7 minutes for us to bring to medium roast. Once the desired roast has been reached we gently pour the beans onto a woven matt, which we believe soothes the beans into the cooling process.
What is your brand ethos?
We are trying to bring authenticity to the market. The coffee industry feels quite corporate at the moment, we want to inject originality into it and really give people coffee that has been roasted in the traditional way, the way that made coffee a worldwide phenomenon.
Our beans are first class, our roasting methods are unique and authentic. We have various coffee beans from around the world. Our Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Grade 1 coffee is our pride and joy. These beans are quality, rich, even when in green bean form they give off a smooth organic scent. We also have Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee which is often hailed as one of the most revered coffee bean selections in the world. We have beans from Nicaragua, Brazil, Colombia and Papa New Guinea too. All the beans are roasted in the same way and sent using first class delivery which we don’t charge our customers for.
So there we have it, Boun Beans are a UK based coffee roasting business using a traditional hand roasting process, supplying super freshly roasted high quality coffee beans – and judging by my own experience, I very highly recommend giving them a try, at bounbeans.com
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