FLAVOURS OF CORNWALL: FULL-BODIED IN FALMOUTH
PUBLISHED: 12:40 23 February 2016 | UPDATED: 12:40 30 August 2017
Yallah Coffee Roastery sits in the Argal Home Farm barns, just outside Mabe Burnhouse which is filled with start-up businesses
Sophie Kazan heads to the Yallah Coffee Roastery for a hit of real flavour
The first time I tasted Yallah Coffee was a seminal moment. Last year, I had been rushed out of bed by my children, all giddy with excitement at the prospect of The Trereife Christmas Fair with music, stories and mince pies ALL DAY. And so, for me, the sight of a mobile coffee vendor near the entrance to the fair came as a huge relief. Having ordered a simple Americano coffee, I was surprised by the taste and aroma of the coffee. It was richer and smoother than most specialty coffees in Cornwall and though I didn’t have any milk, the crema on the surface, was rich and creamy. I asked where the coffee was from: It’s from Yallah Coffee – roasted in a barn in Falmouth! Great, isn’t it!’
It took me several months and several more (take-away) cups of Richard Blake’s extraordinary range of single origin Yallah Coffee before I eventually met him. The Argal Home Farm barns, just outside Mabe Burnhouse, near Falmouth, are occupied by various start-up businesses.
When I drive up, the barn’s wide doors are open, a dog is happily playing and there are bags of coffee stacked along the walls and music playing softly. Everyone is very laid back and Richard has just poured a sack of green Guatemalan coffee beans, this season’s house coffee,’ into the roaster. The large, black coffee roaster that stands at one end of the building is new and takes about 15 kilos or 33 pounds of coffee at a time. It will take about 15 minutes to roast the coffee beans evenly, as the roaster whisks the beans around the inner drum of the furnace.
When they have been evenly roasted, the beans will then need another 15-20 minutes to cool and pack. He checks the temperature of the roast on his laptop, which is linked to temperature probes in the drum itself – 207 degrees Celsius. It looks a bit like a tumble-drier, doesn’t it?’ he smiles. After graduating from Falmouth University, Richard spent time surfing in Morocco, where he fell in love with coffee drinking. Yallah is a playful Arabic term, meaning Let’s go’ or Come on’. After toying with the idea of producing coffee flavoured with the different spices that he had enjoyed abroad, he gradually learnt about roasting and, as he learnt more about the process and nuances of roasting coffee, he decided to focus on getting the most out of high quality, speciality coffee.
Roasting the beans develops the flavour of the coffee. Interestingly, the smell increases as the coffee cools and rests,’ he offers me a small bag of coffee beans to smell. These were roasted yesterday and have a deeper, more pungent smell. Roasting dates are important at Yallah and each bag bears a stamp from the date it was roasted to encourage customers to keep their coffee fresh. Another important part of the Yallah Coffee ethos, is that coffee is from a single origin and relationships are built with the growers and importers to ensure that the coffee is sourced ethically and sustainably. Richard explains to me that while coffee is viewed as a commodity with prices listed on stock markets, quality, speciality coffee is another business altogether, with prices set depending on the quality of the bean and the size of the harvest. Last year, he visited the coffee plantation in Nicaragua that was the house coffee’ for much of Yallah Coffee’s first year of production. It was amazing to see the coffee plants, meet the farmers and see how the beans were processed,’ he says. Most of our wholesale customers buy our house coffee so it’s important for us to have that level of knowledge and personal contact with the producers.’
As the coffee roaster continues to spin, with Richard taking out a small scoop of coffee from the side of the machine to check the colour of the bean, I see Beatrice on the windowsill. Beatrice is the smaller 1950s Swadlo coffee roaster that turned Richard into the independent coffee roaster that he is today. He spotted the Austrian vintage roaster in the window of a coffee shop in Falmouth, while he was still working for Extract, the artisan coffee roaster in Bristol, packing and then roasting coffee. After several months tinkering’ with the machine so that it would work, Richard started roasting 3kg of single origin coffee at a time and putting together the aims and ideals of Yallah Coffee. A tiny company with a big plan’. These rest on simplicity, keeping things simple, honest and sustainable and making sure that the coffee’s quality is paramount.
As the roast finishes and Richard lets the coffee pour out of the small hatch at the bottom of the drum, the beans are then churned around a deep tray at the base of the roaster to cool. He makes me a small cup of strong espresso coffee – the flavours are really intense and full of punch. Now I know why he has called this coffee Yallah!
Yallah Coffee already has a solid list of regular customers and a growing list of guesting’ coffee shops, including the eminent gastro-pub, The Gurnard’s Head near Zennor.
The Yallah Coffee website (yallahcoffee.co.uk) also offering information about new coffees in its blog journal. The keeping it simple ethos can be felt through the website, which offers coffee and also hand-grinders and olive-wood coffee presses for sale, as well as subscriptions from Yallah Coffee’s various trusted coffee ranges, thereby encouraging both coffee drinkers and businesses to start their own exploration of world coffee, with a range of coffees and tastes to choose from, at any one time.
Coffee-making courses and cupping table’ tastings are also being planned later this year.