Republic of coffee
WE are never far from good coffee in and around Cork. Many savvy cafés sell beans and ground coffee, and having a cup in-house first is a good way to test before buying.
Arabica coffee beans are usually better quality, with a rounder, softer, more layered range of flavours, compared to robusta which are easier to grow, cheaper and have a harsher, narrower range of flavours and higher caffeine content.
Unlike wine, which is simply poured to serve, how we make coffee is crucial. Bringing water to boiling point will scorch coffee grounds, so let it come off the boil and down to 90-96C, with a dessertspoon or scoop of coffee per person. Allow to infuse for four to six minutes.
All beans in our survey arrive in Ireland green and are roasted here. Generally, the lighter the colour, the shorter time it was roasted and softer the flavour.
Darker, towards black, may have a more burnt flavour, like overdone barbecued food.
We had a look at what is available in supermarkets. Coffee House Lane roasted in Waterford impressed tasters most. Reasonably priced at €4.95 for 227g from SuperValu. We were also impressed by McCabes Wicklow Organic blend €7.20 for 250g which had a great, Italian-style kick. From Coffee Central, English Market Cork and online mccabecoffee.com.
While difficult to compare brands with different blends, we looked for a satisfying, multi-layered mouthful that begged a second cup and found it in all of these eight.