Root & Branch from Belfast | in our December ’19 coffee box
One of Northern Ireland’s finest roasters returns to The Coffeevine with a gorgeous Kenyan coffee packed inside its innovative reusable cans.
Belfast is a city with a very unique history. There are very few other cities that have experienced division as Belfast has and in the examples of Berlin or Nicosia, the reasons were different powers clashing in their middles whereas, in Northern Ireland’s capital, the walls were built by religions. Yet, despite its often tragic past, Belfast and Northern Ireland as a whole, have also seen a lot of progress and positive developments. A significant part of Game of Thrones being filmed there certainly helped.
When it comes to its food and drinks scene, Belfast is often lagging somewhat behind mainland UK cities or Dublin but that doesn’t mean there is a shortage of great places to have coffee these days. One of the pioneers of the Northern Irish specialty coffee scene is Root & Branch, a roaster who had his early beginnings in organic food. These days, Root & Branch is widely considered one of the nation’s finest roasters and the team around co-founder Simon Johnston is always good for fresh ideas.
During a recent live Q&A session on Instagram, Simon shed some light on recent developments at Root & Branch that included moving the roastery to a bigger production space and introducing its brand new packaging. Going forward, and we’re proud to be one of the firsts to have it, Root & Branch’s coffee will be sold in reusable cans that easily remind one of craft beer cans. Indeed, that is also where Simon got his inspiration to begin with.
He explained how disillusioned he was with allegedly compostable packaging that still looked pristine even after being in his farmhouse’s compost for several weeks and despite the manufacturer’s assurances. ‘There has to be a more environmentally friendly way to sell your coffees’ Simon thought. While it wasn’t entirely smooth sailing to get the cans designed and produced, they do offer a new way to reuse the cans to store other goods after the coffee is finished thereby giving them a much longer shelf life than your normal coffee bag.
The ability to look at everyday processes and objects with slightly more analytical and critical eyes is something that Simon probably acquired from his background in Chemistry, which is also why the new roasting space allows him to continue on his path to unlock more flavours from each coffee.
For the December ’19 coffee box, Root & Branch will roast a beautiful Kenyan coffee from Kagumoini for us. This coffee is a very good representation of the changing environment in Kenya that is largely due to climate change. In the past, most Kenyan coffees consisted mostly of SL28 & SL34 varietals but changing conditions on the ground are making it necessary to add more varieties to the coffees to compensate for changing taste profiles of the aforementioned types. This particular coffee also contains the Batian variety that was grafted on the beloved SL’s and adds the notes of blackcurrant and citrus that we love so much in Kenyan coffees.
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