Typica coffee

Categories: Product of the week

One of the oldest varieties of coffee, grown in Colombia and brought to Borough by the Colombian Coffee Co

The history of typica coffee is as rich as its flavour is complex. Being one of the oldest naturally growing varieties, “typica is at the centre of the coffee family tree,” says Eduardo Florez of The Colombian Coffee Company. “It was first commercialised by the Turks, who in the 1700s controlled the Yemeni port of Mocha.” As the European colonial powers began to take a grip of the coffee trade, dispersing its production around the world, typica plants made their way to Colombia, “where the temperature and altitude meant it thrived”.  

While its history dates back centuries, its presence at Borough is brand new—imported direct from the farmer by Eduardo himself, cutting out the middle man and ensuring a fair price for the growers that produced it. “Our typica coffee is produced by farmer Hernan Arias,” Eduardo explains. “It is grown at 1,750 metres above sea level in the small village of Los Cristales in Tolima, in mid-western Colombia.”

A fussy plant, typica requires constant care. “When the first shoots come up they are almost golden, with long, funky leaves—it is a beautiful sight! But the plant is very delicate. If you are going to grow it, you have to do your homework very well,” he continues. “If there is any kind of fungus, you have to burn the damaged leaves. The cleanliness of the plantation is paramount.”

An exacting recipe
Once harvested and safely transported to the UK, the beans are roasted to an exacting recipe. “I have been enjoying the roasting so much. The magic of it is finding the maximum point of sweetness and the maximum point of acidity.”

To do this, you have to find the precise amount of time for the perfect roast. “There is a point during roasting at which you hear the first ‘pop’, or what is sometimes called the first crack—it sounds like popcorn!—and when that is happening, you know that it has reached 80 per cent of the required roasting time. But you must be very precise—even seconds make a difference.”

Eventually, Eduardo decided on two roasting times for optimal enjoyment: one for espresso, and a slightly less roasted version for filter coffee. The resulting drink has a pleasing citrus acidity and well-developed cacao notes, and a delicate caramel aftertaste. “It is magic”—not to be “destroyed” by the addition of milk, Eduardo advises. “That way you really get to experience the full flavour of the coffee. It is a chance for people at Borough Market to experience one of the first varieties of coffees, and get a taste of the original plant, and trace all the way back to coffee’s origins.”