Popping up on the Birmingham coffee scene are speciality roasters, Origin coffee. Already a partner of the city favourite Urban Coffee (they are the roasters behind their most fantastic Urban5 blend), they’ve now brought speciality coffee to Selfridges at The Bullring.
The Origin espresso bar is headed by two familiar faces on the Birmingham scene, Alex Scott and Ben Dargue.
Here Alex chats about speciality coffee and his new espresso bar at Selfridges.
The word ‘speciality’ is banded around a lot in the coffee world, but what exactly does it mean?
In my mind, it’s the pursuit of coffee excellence, which is achieved through care and craftsmanship being applied at every point in the supply chain. It starts with the grower and their farming practices, with commitment to producing superb crops in a way that delivers on environmental and social sustainability. Then to the mills and the processing of the crops. Then the exporter. Then the roasters, and developing the perfect profile to enhance the coffee beans. The end point is then us, the barista. It’s our job to not only make the perfect cup through skills in areas such as extract ratios and the science of milk, but by us loving what we do and passing this passion on to our customers.
When you compare this to mass market coffee, which is bought in bulk from multiple growers without traceability or provenance, and then darkly roasted so that it all blends to taste the same, you start to get the gist. It’s no different to craft wine or beer and whilst it sounds clichéd it’s all about care and passion at every point along the way.
How did you get into speciality coffee?
I was invited along to the opening of an artisan coffee shop. I’d never been that into coffee, as it had never really delivered for me. It always smelt better than it tasted. At the opening the team there were really passionate and encouraged me to buy a latte. I was amazed at the taste – it was really interesting, with notes of liquorice and chocolate. One latte totally changed my perspective on coffee. It wasn’t that long before I started working there and my real exploration into coffee started.
How would you convince someone to switch from a mass market coffee brand to speciality?
It’s a difficult one as you can easily sound patronising. To me it’s getting people to try first, as happened with me. Once they realise how incredible and interesting really great coffee can taste, they won’t need convincing. However, it does need to be served with passion and knowledge about the origin and processing.
Tell us a bit about Origin and why you joined them?
Their coffee tasted great – that was what first drew me to them. I also knew they were doing a good job with how they sourced their green coffee. It goes back to my view on speciality – I knew they had the care and passion. They also roast on a low carbon emissions roaster – again, it’s all about values and ethics, and that was important to me.
Why should people come to the Origin espresso bar?
For all the reasons above. Plus we have a brand new espresso machine at our disposal – amazing. We want to share incredible coffee with Birmingham. What more can I say?
And on your days off… what main brewing method do you use?
There are three (well, two really…). Number 1 is the AeroPress. It’s my go-to as always produces consistent results and captures everything the bean has to offer. Number 2 is a 600ml Kalita Wave Carafe. It produces great results too. Then number 3 is actually theoretical, as I don’t have one yet… it’s a syphon. My dream brewer.
Big thanks to Alex and all at Origin for their support. You’ll find Alex and the joyful the new Origin espresso bar on the Food Hall level 1 at Selfridges Birmingham. Twitter: @originselfridge