I was always rather sceptical about claims of coffee superiority and was happy with my morning instant with a spoon of honey. When we first talked about opening the tea hut, we soon realised how much we had to learn – from working out whether an expresso machine was better than a “bean-to-cup” (it is) and the difference between grinders, knock out boxes and group heads. Pretty soon, we had decided that we needed a quality machine from a company that knew a thing or two about coffee and how to serve it at its best. Not only did the machine have to perform well, it also had to fit into a very small serving area – given that the tea hut is 15 ft long and only 9 ft wide and we also needed to fit in a soup urn, grinder and water boiler! As we wanted to encourage people to bring their own cups to reduce waste, we also needed the machine to be taller than a standard expresso machine.
After a lot of research and measuring, we selected the slimline 2 group Onyx from Expobar, an Italian machine that allows us to make two double shot coffees at the same time which had great reviews. Our philosophy is to invest and spend as much as possible locally so we selected Dwyfor coffee as our supplier of both the machine and their very popular coffee beans.
It is only after barista training that it’s possible to appreciate how many small but important steps are required to serve coffee at its absolute best. The bag of beans once opened needs to be kept refrigerated and when placed into the hopper for grinding, they should only sit there for a maximum of two days. Once ground, the mix should only sit for a day as it starts to lose important oils that make up the characteristic flavour. The metal cups with handles that you see sticking out the machines should always be kept clean and warm – old ground coffee on the rims can give a burnt flavour. Once the ground beans are in the cups (called “group heads”), boiling water should be passed through them into a cup within a very specific timescale. Too slow and the coffee is watery, too long and the flavour can be affected and taste burned.
The machine also has two steam wands which steam ice cold local milk to between 65 and 70 degrees and even this requires care and attention to achieve a creamy latte, a foamy cappuccino or the perfect flat white. Teamed with a cheeky muffin or delicious cake from the Henllan Bakery just 4 miles away, we think our coffee is the best mid morning break or afternoon pick-me-up.
- Hoffi Coffi – “Rydw i’n hoffi coffi” is Welsh for “I like coffee”