AN INTERVIEW WITH our resident BARISTA, Csaba Toth. We tALK ALL THINGS COFFEE, From how his own love affair with coffee started, to where the best BEANS ARE GROWN and tips on how you can enjoy the best cup at home.
Csaba Toth started working for Miles over three years ago, having honed his skills in Italy on a journey that started in 2006. Csaba's knowledge is second to none, believe us when we say he make the perfect coffee every time!
Where are your favourite coffee beans grown?
"It's hard to choose, but I'd say my favourite coffee is the arabica bean from Rwanda in East Africa. It's a slightly sweet coffee bean with a gentle, soft taste that results in a beautifully smooth drink. In my opinion, the best coffee comes from Kenya, Ethiopia and Rwanda. The beans are filled with flavour and create wonderfully smooth blends."
How does where the coffee is grown affect the coffee beans?
“As with a person, the origins of coffee beans are essential. Coffee beans have different origins from different countries. Depending on the climate of the country, altitude of the farm and variety, the coffee bean will taste different. We can divide the varieties of coffee according to the countries of origin. There are four main groups:
Indonesia, Asia and Oceania
South and Central America
Caribbean and North America.
The farmers have different ways of processing the beans according to the climate of the country.
Another aspect is the harvesting process – hand picked or mechanical. Obviously, the hand-picked coffee is higher quality because the machines can damage the coffee cherries. Specialists grade the farms every year and they judge the quality of the coffee beans. They grade the coffee using indicatives as commercial, fine commercial, speciality coffee and cup of excellence. The relevance of this for you as a buyer is that you can take an informed decision knowing what quality are you buying.”
How does the roasting process change the flavours of the coffee beans?
“I find roasting the most fascinating aspect of the coffee industry. It transforms the raw, green coffee seed, which has virtually no flavour, into an aromatic and complex flavoured coffee bean. Each roasting company has its own style and approach to roasting.
A whole process of chemical reactions occur during roasting, the weight of the coffee bean is reduced and the moisture in the coffee bean evaporates to produce the end product and taste. The roasting process can be controlled to determine three important aspects of how the coffee will taste: acidity, sweetness and bitterness. The longer a coffee bean is roasted, the less acidity it will have in the end (not a good thing as we want acidity not bitterness). The darker the coffee gets the more the bitterness increases. To simply describe a coffee as a light roast is superficial as the roast could have been relatively fast or it could have been quite slow, which would alter the taste, even if the beans look the same.
A good roaster can manipulate the coffee to be sweeter, altering the roasting temperature to produce either a very sweet yet also quite acidic coffee, or a very sweet less acidic coffee using a different roast profile. A key fact to remember is that adjusting the roast profile can never improve a poor-quality coffee bean.
I challenge our readers to discover our coffee bean range and compare the different colours, flavours and textures."
What’s your advice for buying coffee beans if you have never ordered them before?
“I would firstly consider the strength of the coffee – would you prefer a lighter or a stronger coffee? Miles have a wide range of strengths, starting with our famous Breakfast Blend, which is a lighter coffee (at strength 2) and perfect for a light cup of coffee in the morning. Miles Continental Blend is our darkest roast, resulting in our strongest coffee, this blend will take you on a unique journey of discovering the full flavour of coffee beans from Uganda and Brazil.”
If you want to try a coffee bean for the first time which would you recommend?
“There are literally thousands of choices when it comes to choosing good coffee beans. The best coffee comes from people who care. When you buy coffee directly from a local roaster you are buying a high quality, freshly roasted coffee from a team of people who are passionate about coffee.
My recommendation for customers who never tried Miles is to start discovering single origins and the flavours of each country before exploring our house blends or an espresso blend. Single origin simply means unblended. It is a coffee from one specific region, such as Colombia, and works well as a black coffee. A blend, therefore, means different beans, blended into one packet. Blends are designed to produce balance in terms of flavour, body, and acidity. A roaster might blend a full bodied coffee with another coffee that has very bright tasting notes in order to get the best of both coffees in one cup.”
Do certain milks work better when making coffee? Which milk do you choose?
“I would always recommend trying a coffee before adding anything to it. If you do not find it palatable as black coffee then add milk to enjoy your cup. Excellent coffee should have its own sweetness. Instead of hiding the bitterness the milk will obscure the flavour characteristics of the coffee, hiding the work of the producer and the expression of the coffee.
Certain types of milks are compatible with coffee depending almost entirely on the milk’s molecular makeup. The two essential elements in milk are: fat and protein content. When I make coffee, I always choose full fat milk: the more fat exists in the milk, the richer and creamier it will taste. This is the main reason why coffee shops choose full fat milk. At about 3-4% fat content, it achieves an ideal balance of taste and texture when mixed with coffee. Reduced-fat milks, like 1% or 2%, lose some of the sweetness and body gained compared to whole milk. Skimmed milk contains little to no fat at all. Because of its even lighter body, it does not add much density to a brewed coffee, but when steamed, skimmed milk creates a drier and denser head of foam.
Selecting the right milk for your coffee is all about the balance you prefer. In the last few years coffee shops have started to offer customers non-dairy options. The lower calorie, non-dairy milks don’t have the same chemical makeup to create the taste and texture as animal-based milks, this is because plant based milks contain more water and less proteins and fats. If you were to choose plant based milks these are the qualities they have:
Almond milk: it is light in body and flavour, but does have a distinctly nutty taste
Soy milk: with a pronounced soy aftertaste it is thicker and sweeter than almond milk.
Rice milk: most comparable to skimmed milk its thinner body makes a thin latte.
Coconut milk: it is mildly nutty but has a slightly sour aftertaste.
I tried several brands of milk and they are all unique, but I would recommend buying locally, from small farms that you trust."
How can I make delicious coffee at home without buying an expensive machine?
"It's a myth that you need to have expensive equipment to make great coffee at home. As long as you choose a good quality, freshly roasted bean then a stove pot (watch our tutorial here), or a cafetiére – provided you have a good coffee grinder, will result in a coffee that's both delicious and relatively straightforward to make."
How should you store your coffee once the pack is opened and how long does it last?
“Once the staling process begins, there is very little that can be done to prevent it continuing. As long as you are buying fresh coffee and using it relatively quickly the impact on your cup of coffee should be minor. However, there are ways to store coffee at home that will keep it in the best possible condition.
To maintain the aroma and flavour of your coffee, make sure you store your coffee in an airtight container – a tin is better than plastic, or seal up the packaging it arrives in. Once opened, keep your coffee in a fairly cool, dry, dark place for up to two weeks. Don’t put in the refrigerator. This is a common practice, but it does not extend the life of the coffee, and you can get cross-contamination of aromas if you have something particularly fragrant in the refrigerator with coffee. If you can’t keep it in an airtight container, then at least avoid placing it in a humid environment.”
What is it about coffee that you love so much?
"First of all I admire the coffee producers themselves. It's a hard job and their passion and knowledge is always inspiring. As for the coffee itself, I love the sweetness and the juxtaposition of how it can also be sour and acidic at the same time. There's nothing like a cup of full-bodied, flavour packed coffee. Even the after taste is delicious."
How do you drink your own coffee?
"I start every day with an espresso and then move to a flat white for the rest of the day. Check out our guide to different coffee styles here."
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