Monday, December 8

Union, Barista Competitions, And Yet Another Crap Costa.

Okay, before I say anything, I want to point out one thing. I was tired, and Costa was the only place to go. So, while I'm on the train doing nothing else, I may as well review it. I ordered a double ristretto (which was to go, since I was in a train station at the time). I can already hear the purists screaming at me, but it was either that or brave whatever burned mess they seemed to be serving as cappuccinos. So, anyway, I get to my platform, no more than a minute after getting my order, open up my ristretto to see...a tiny filter coffee. No, not the syrup thick, treacley wonder that is a ristretto, it's golden creama flecked with reddish brown. Instead I see a water-thin cup of, for want of a better word, shit. Not even a hint of creama around the edges! Even Costa used to be able to make a nice ristretto! It was the one coffee I enjoyed from them! Now this?! Oh well. The lesson of the story, train station Costa is NOT good.

So, now that we have that cleared up, Union Hand Roasted. This is my first trip down to the roastery, and only my second time in a roastery (the first being Pumphrey's, at the barista jam). I thought, to start off this post I'd give you the run down on Union; what they're about, who they are, why I love them so much.

Firstly, who are they?

Well, Union is a privately microroastery based in London. It is owned by Jeremy Torz and Steven Macatonia.

Second, what are they about?

Union is about providing good coffee, and giving the farmers a fair price for that coffee.

Thirdly, why do I love them?

Well, it's my job to love them for a start. Any barista worth his salt should be enthused about the coffee he prepares and sells. In the end a barista is part chef, part salesman, and a salesman must believe in his product in order to sell it. For me, Union ticks all the right boxes. They don't pander to the Fairtrade crowd, selling only one Fairtrade and Organic coffee, but they ensure that all their coffees are ethically sourced, paying 35% above the Fairtrade minimum, last I heard. They also care about their customers. The only reason I'm so enthusiastic about coffee is because my boss is enthusiastic about good coffee. Union ensure that they enthuse the shop owners and the baristi they supply, so that their great coffee doesn't simply become a creama-less mess in the bottom of a paper cup.

The main reason I love them is because they sell damned good coffee. Before I got the job at Coolaboola I hated coffee. My only experience had been Costa mochas (and we have seen my opinion of Costa already). I got the job, was given a series of lattes made with Union's Revelation blend, and my eyes were opened to what coffee really was. Not the bitter, lifeless drink that Costa would have you believe it is, where the only difference between a latte and a cappuccino is the order you put it together. No, coffee is as much a food stuff as a good cut of beef.

And that's Union. As I type I'm on a train to their London home to train for competition, and to taste a couple of different blends they think will work well with my sig drink idea.

And, as I said last night I'll be giving you a run down of what goes on today when I head back this evening.

So, till then, I'll sign off.


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Hey y'all. Welcome to the Third Wave UK speciality coffee blog. Whether you're a coffee profesional, home barista, or just interested in speciality coffee or the speciality coffee scene in the UK, this blog will hopefully have something for you. Cheers, Seamus McFlurry

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