Bean Blend Review: Don Wilfredo

The first time I tasted the Don Wilfredo blend was in a latte at The Botanist. I remember thinking that they must have accidently gotten some chocolate powder in the coffee because of it tasted like cocoa. I went up to the barista afterwards and turns out one of the main flavours in Don Wilfredo is milk chocolate. I ended up buying a full 200g bag of beans and took them home to grind and use in my espresso machine.

Since then, I’ve continued to use the Don Wilfredo blend in my manual espresso extractions. Being a People’s coffee blend, it is available in several Wellington cafes including Pestle and Mortar (see my previous post). Don Wilfredo is available to purchase in whole beans at many of these cafes as well. 

I’ve grown to love this coffee as a complex, consistent blend that builds on one of my favourite coffee notes: cocoa.

ORIGIN: Colombia, Guatemala and Peru.

ROAST: Medium

NOTES: Milk chocolate, caramel.

COFFEE RECIPES: The Don Wilfredo blend is perfect for any coffee recipes that are going to naturally enhance it’s flavour profile. Given the strong cocoa note of the beans, I would suggest having this coffee as:

  • Cappuccino (chocolate): Using chocolate on top of the cappuccino, you will be able to enhance the natural cocoa note in the roast without overwhelming the coffee with chocolate.
  • Cappuccino (cinnamon): Using cinnamon on top of the cappuccino will bring out more of the caramel/spice notes from this bean blend. I find creating a cinnamon cappuccino with the Don Wilfredo beans is perfect for those mid-winter afternoons.
  • Dirty Chai Latte: For those that enjoy a bit of spice, adding a shot of Don Wilfredo into a chai latte can offer an extra hit of coffee alongside that delicious cardamom/cinnamon chai spice. A dirty chai latte will enhance any spice notes in the blend, and pull out acidity in the beans. This means you will have a vibrant coffee flavour that pulls through the chai.
  • Mochacinno: For those who really love chocolate- you can never go wrong using a cocoa note blend in a mochacinno. Given the beans already have this note, they will be easily incorporate into the mocha, and won’t compete for taste. A Don Wilfredo mocha is a smooth coffee experience, with the sweet chocolate combining with the coffee beans to make a rich chocolaty coffee.

People’s coffee describes the Don Wilfredo blend as ” A complex, full bodied flavour juggernaught with chocolate sweetness and creamy caramel overtones…”

For more information and to purchase beans please see: https://peoplescoffee.co.nz/products/don-wilfredo

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Interview with: Pestle and Mortar

Pestle and Mortar has only been up and running for 10 months, with co-owners (and great mates) Adam and and Sam building on their dream to open a coffee-house inspired cafe to “bring great coffee to the suburbs“. Having a wide range of freshly-made cabinet food and four milk alternatives on offer, P&M caters to even us picky Wellingtonians. I was very impressed to see that hemp milk was a new option on the menu- and was able to enjoy both my first oat and hemp milk coffees in the afternoon sun. The cafe boasts local art for purchase by Louise Cressy and Brent Ingram, meaning visitors are able to walk away with a piece of Wellington culture after their coffee. Keeping up with eco-friendly trends, there is a stack of donated keep cups for customers to use for take away coffees and return later on. If you love People’s coffee, you’ll be pleased to know that the Don Wilfredo blend is used to craft the espresso beverages, with different pour-over and cold brew options also on offer.

I was lucky enough to be able to sit down with Sam (co-owner of Pestle and Mortar) to have chat about Wellington, baristas and what makes a good coffee. I chose to pop by on a sunny Tuesday afternoon and even had the chance after to talk to a few of the late-afternoon coffee lovers about what keeps them coming back.

MEET THE Co-OWNER/BARISTA: Sam

What’s your everyday morning coffee?

I’ll usually get here and have a shot…just an espresso, although ristretto is delicious. I’m typically a long black drinker, although I love filter coffee.

If you were to have a milk coffee what would you have?

Probably a small flat white. I don’t drink milk so probably with hemp milk.

How did you learn to make coffee?

Uhmmm….

Did you learn to make coffee?

You can be the judge! My background is in restaurants and bars and there I kind of learned how to do coffee and beer. Starting in restaurants the coffee wasn’t great…we would never change the grind. And then I went over to Canada and worked in an espresso bar over there, and that’s when I started to really get in to coffee.

How did you find the espresso bar scene?

So the guy I was working for he was like… a complete genius. Like, mad genius… from like an Italian family. He would do all these crazy blends. So the Don is a four bean blend…which is pretty standard. He would do…I think he had one with 14 different beans? It took him like seven years to create and get the flavour he really wanted.

And was it good?

It was (-omitted word-) delicious. It was the best coffee I’ve probably ever had. He would compare roasting and coffee to music…and his passion wore off on me a bit. I started tasting coffee, rather than just drinking it.

What are you drinking?

I’m drinking the Guji pour over and it’s delicious. Would you like to try some?

(At this point in the interview we decided to put my tasting skills to the test…)

What is that? Like a plum flavour?

Yeah, exactly. It’s stone fruit. You got it right.

How was the coffee scene in Canada?

In Montreal, it was probably a little bit more European style. It’s not like American-diner style coffee that’s been sitting there for hours on end.

What do you find the coffee culture like in NZ?

I think, especially in New Zealand you either go and get a beer or you go and get a coffee to chat about stuff. Cafe’s are such a social place. There’s usually something that everyone can drink.

Oat milk flat white at Pestle and Mortar (P&M)

What motivated you to help open P&M?

I always sort of wanted to do something like this. When I met Adam we were originally working in Taupo. I mentioned it to him and we were originally gonna do a coffee cart sort of situation. He did a bit of research and came back to me and said we could probably get a space for a similar price. We definitely wanted to be in the suburbs. We wanted to bring nice coffee and espresso-bar style to the suburbs by having pour-over and varieties.

What makes you different from other cafes?

Well, probably those things. As far as the coffee goes- we can pull a good shot. We can talk about our coffee- I wouldn’t say we are complete coffee nerds but we can lead you in the right direction. We’ve got a good balance here. I always compare this place to Central Perk on Friends. Everyone just comes in and has a chat; even if they don’t know each other. It’s just like a super chill vibe. We get the people that come in early and are like “I need my coffee in two and a half minutes”, but then late morning we get stay at home dads. There’s like a little group of them that come in. It’s just a bunch of people sort of coming and going but all knowing each other from this place; and that’s quite cool.

I know you use Don Wilfredo coffee beans. Is there any particular reason why this blend?

It goes really well with milk, and milk coffees are what people here drink. You can have it by itself and its just really delicious.

So, how do you find coffee around Wellington?

I think we are pretty spoilt to be honest. Not that I’ve traveled a whole lot but there is just something different about Wellington coffee….it’s kind of like a third-wave coffee movement thing.

So what makes a good coffee for you?

Hmm…that’s a tough question. Good coffee to start with. Even if the coffee is roasted well- the person making it makes a big difference. I think that’s what people like about this place- people know it’s Adam and I so it’s consistent.

(INTERVIEW END)

Towards the end of my visit, I was able to have a brief chat to two local coffee-lovers about their experience at P&M. Both had been regulars for months.

What do you like about P&M?

1: There’s a lot of places where the coffee thing nothing to complain about…but, this coffee is really great. You can definitely taste the notes.

2. Coffee. Staff. Atmosphere. There’s no wait. It’s just good.

Whilst I was at P&M, I had the opportunity to try both oat and hemp milk with my coffees. I was pleasantly surprised with both as they didn’t overwhelm the coffee with a plant husk taste. Whilst I have always enjoyed a soy latte, my experience at P&M has made me eager to try other milk alternatives at home.

Delicious creamy dairy-free milk options, Don Wilfredo beans, local art and solid yarns make P&M a favourite cafe for locals in Miramar. Next time you’re around the area- make sure to swing by for mid-afternoon coffee and a chat. I’ve only heard good things!

Roasting 101

When it comes to the flavour behind your favourite coffee, there are many factors that impact the experience of the final cup.

  • Roast
  • Origin
  • Extraction
  • Milk/Coffee Recipe

All of these combine to create the flavour profile of the coffee. One of the most common misconceptions I hear daily is that if the coffee tastes stronger (ie. more bitter/intense), then it must be stronger. However, due to the portioning of espresso, a large latte will have the same caffeine content as a double espresso made by the same café. Whilst the black extraction (espresso) may seem more intense on the tongue, the latte will also contain two shots of espresso incorporated into the milk.

I can go to one café and order a latte, and then go to another- order the same thing and find one WAY more intense. This is partially due to the roast.

Light, Medium and Dark roasted beans. Image credit: athingforcoffee.com

My initial understanding of roast came from the marked instant coffee jars at the supermarket. I became quite familiar with the ‘light’, ‘medium’ and ‘dark’ roast labels. I myself, prefer either a medium roast (with soy milk) or a dark roast (black). However, too many times I’ve found myself using these labels as indicative of the ‘strength’ of the coffee.

Now, what’s interesting is that a light roast will often have higher caffeine content. A light roast contains beans that are softly ‘toasted’, whilst a dark roast is roasted at a higher heat over a longer period- resulting in a darker, oilier coffee bean. These dark roasts (due to the longer process) burn out some of the caffeine content. So actually what I used to think were ‘stronger’ coffees in fact had less caffeine content than the sweeter, more acidic light roasts.

Confusing, right?

So now, how does roast impact the flavour? Sure, a light roast may have more caffeine, but dark roasts often can taste bitter or strong (which are two things I hear regularly). I associate dark roasts with very INTENSE flavours. Here is how I have always compared roast’s impact on coffee notes.

LIGHT ROAST: Biscuit, fruit, floral,

MEDIUM ROAST: nutty, caramel, malt, cereal

DARK ROAST: wood, tobacco, roast, spice, cocoa

If you are able to identify any of these notes in your coffee- it is partially due to the roasting profile. Not only will the roast effect the crema and bean colour, but also the acidity/note profile of the bean.

Using espresso, we can distinguish from light to dark roast by comparing the crema consistency and colour. What does this have to do with the taste of your coffee? Well. it helps to understand the base-line of what your coffee should taste like. For example, by looking at the crema of a dark roast espresso would be able to anticipate that you may taste spice or cocoa notes before trying the coffee.

I have extracted a light roast, medium roast and dark roast to show the difference between the cremas.

Many of the cafes in Wellington tend to use a Colombian bean-based medium roast (e.g. Mojo). These roasts are popular due to their versatility. Medium roasts are able to be a vibrant espresso or milk-based coffee without over-saturating the malt/fruit flavours. Milk-based coffee recipes will pull out the sweeter, nutty notes of the coffee, whilst black coffee recipes will enhance any acidity in the crema to create vibrant fruity or malt notes.

What roast do you find yourself gravitating towards? I personally prefer a dark roast in the morning (to really remind myself I’m drinking intense coffee), and a medium malty roast in the mid afternoon.

How to Do: Latte Art (Heart)

It’s relatively easy to get a picture perfect coffee whilst out and about, but how do you create an Instagram-worthy coffee at home? Most of my latte art skills were self-taught. I learnt on the job, and found my own techniques. Often it really does look more complex than it is. Latte art is easy to practice as long as you have access to a milk steaming device.

This is how I create a simple heart design using steamed milk.

Steam your milk. Once the milk is steamed, bang the jug lightly on the bottom against the counter to settle the micro-foam. This will dissipate any visible bubbles. Then, use a strong, slow wrist rotation to swirl the milk around the outer edges- making sure that any clumps are incorporated into the foam. Do this whilst you are extracting your espresso shot. This way when your shot is extracted and the crema has settled into the cup your milk is ready to pour. Otherwise, leaving the milk to sit in the jug will allow it to separate into foam vs. hot milk. If this happens, your foam will pour out all at once; making a macchiato-style coffee.

Extract espresso. The darker/stronger the roast, the more vibrant the crema, and the more contrast you will be able to achieve with your latte art.

Swirl milk around the outer rim to incorporate the crema and allow it to be worked with.

Pouring around the outside of the crema

Once the cup gets to roughly around 2/3- 3/4 of capacity, steady the milk pour against the side of the cup and allow it to fill out into the center. The best advice I can give is to POUR WITH CONFIDENCE. Many people make the mistake of pouring too fast and thinly with the milk. This means crema sits on the top, and the milk pours down through the crema rather than with it.

Filling out the ‘heart’

Once a large shape has formed, pull the last remains of milk back through the white design, forming a heart-like design. The crema will pull through the milk, creating the heart shape.

Pulling back through the milk

Not everyone has the expertise to pour perfectly every time- even I can’t always create the perfect latte art. So how do you save an ‘ugly’ coffee?

I’ll teach you a barista tip.

Once you have poured your steamed milk into the coffee/crema, you will often find that there is some creamy white foam left on the top of the coffee. Using a spoon/stirrer, we can use this white foam to etch designs into the top of the coffee. The outer crema surrounding the edges can be pulled through the milk, creating a simple design. Simply pull the crema from side to side to create a pattern.

Pulling the crema across
Using the crema to create a pattern

I encourage you to tackle latte art using these techniques. I would love to know how your experience goes!

My Coffee Journey

Why Coffee?

My fascination with coffee began at the bright age of twelve. Growing up, I always dreamed of being a barista. I would eagerly watch the ‘professionals’ extract shots and froth milk when my mother ordered her afternoon coffee, hoping that I could be behind the machine one day.

Over the years, I had tentatively scooped the chocolate powder off my mother’s cappuccinos until one day I was told I needed my own coffee. That’s when I found my beloved mochaccino. The perfect harmony of hot chocolate and espresso for beginner coffee connoisseur, mochas offered the chance to have an ‘adult’ coffee date without the bitterness I scoffed at. Hawthorne’s Coffee Roasters in Havelock North made me the first of many: a single shot large mocha with four sugars. Whether or not at this stage I was able to taste the single shot of coffee through the sugary chocolate drink remains uncertain. However, it kept me coming back.

Mochaccinos were my first love. After several years (and much less sugar), I had a life-changing coffee in Europe. In Europe, the coffee culture is quite different, with most cafes primarily offering espresso/black coffee options. It was therefore, not much to my surprise when a sweet-toothed fifteen year old asked for a Mochaccino in Spain- that I was met with a confused face. After a very uneducated explanation that a mocha was coffee and chocolate, the owner bustled around to craft this new recipe. Delicious, dark roasted Mexican coffee beans were extracted into a cup over half a bar of melted spiced local dark chocolate. The syrupy dessert was then poured with warmed full cream into a mug. I sat outside in the hot sun to have the most unsuspectingly delicious mocha of my life. To this day, I still vividly remember that mocha. Since that day, I found Mexican coffee beans to be my new addiction, with spice and wood notes bringing me back to that late afternoon in Spain. I can only hope that other mocha-loving tourists have inspired a permanent option on the cafe’s menu.

After my trip to Europe, I was presented with the opportunity to take a short barista training course in year twelve and leapt at the chance to get the way-in to my dream job. The course was held over two days, by an instructor who drank more caffeine than water- which I would soon learn is almost necessary for those is hospitality. When it came time for me to practice my newfound knowledge on the machine, my over-confidence led me to burn two jugs of milk and create an unseemly noise from the steam wand. Over the next day I was carefully shadowed by the instructor, and with a watchful eye I was able to pass the standards.

Everybody tells you that to get a cafe job, you need experience. But it’s a catch twenty two without a job in the first place. My only experience came in the form of a two-day training, and I could hardly say that I was competent enough after to make a single beverage. I applied to every café I could think of in the Wellington region, before landing a standard café kitchenhand role. Was I making coffees? Absolutely not. It took me a good six months to get the confidence to get behind the machine. I spent my down time to tackling my worst challenge: frothing milk.

The day everything changed was when my manager asked me to make him a trim flat white. I have no doubt most baristas have vivid dreams of assembly-line trim milk frothing for the morning coffee rush. Trim milk is notoriously more difficult to forth due to the lower fat content, and what was my worst skill? Frothing milk. With a shaking hand and watchful eye, I made the beverage and delivered it to him. He had pushed me to step out of my comfort zone- and after a tentative sip, told me the coffee was good. Was good, great? No, but it was a lot better than I had expected to hear. After a few months, I was consistently frothing soy, trim and blue milk and lending a hand on the machine.

From this job, I landed several jobs in the following years at different cafes. I went from washing dishes as a kitchenhand, to a part-time barista, to landing two head barista positions and eventually my current role as a coffee specialist. My caffeine addiction grew with my progress, straying away from mochaccinos, to lattes and finally to ristretto and espresso extractions. I now not only have my dream role, but have had the chance to interview café owners, try new unreleased blends, compete in a latte art competition and facilitate three of my own Barista classes.

You could say that coffee has been a large part of my life- and you would be right. From my morning espresso, to my late afternoon latte coffee has always been a comfort to me.

So why coffee? Because quite simply- I love it.