It’s been a long week of unpacking and scrubbing floors, dusting… and drinking old coffee, as among the moving-in-to-Aberdeen malarky I had no time for proper shopping, let alone, proper shopping for coffee.
Eventually I had some time to myself, and off I went to discover what Aberdeen had on offer; not without some research, however, from which it seemed there was only one coffee bean provider in the city centre radius: MacBeans Coffee & Tea.
My first trip there fell on a Sunday and I discovered, disappointed, that they were shut. Unfazed, I returned the following day, just for a bit of a ‘culture shock’, if you will. Simply put, I was right to consider Farrer’s a great value coffee shop; it seemed that at MacBeans I wouldn’t get anything for less than £4.00, and that if I settled for the most ordinary.
After I shook that initial shock off my shoulders, I realised that I might have been blowing the prices out of proportion, having got used to buying smaller – ergo cheaper – doses at Farrer’s at circa £1.80 per 125g and then £3.00 for 200g. MacBeans still come out as more expensive, but upon placing my order of the Rainforest Alliance DATERRA Espresso Gold blend (£4.50 for 250f) I learnt that there was a smaller dose option available at 125g, as well as a 500g option.
Of course, it’s also important to make the correction on the variety and exclusivity of coffees that both places have on offer – in which case MacBeans wins hands down: from rare one-off offerings, like the recent ‘Daterra Blue Earth’ (£10 per 250g) to special monthly offerings, like this month’s Kenyan ‘Elephant Ears’ (£4.00 per 250g), as well as stocking Kopi Luwak at staggering but not at all surprising £22.00 for 100g. The menu is extensive and covers a variety of tastes, from different coffee regions and of all levels of coffee-extravaganza. By comparison, Farrer’s selection was much smaller – about 20-odd positions on their website with about 12 available in store; but, to their defence, that selection was sufficient enough to find my favourite for Espresso brewing: the Italian blend.
As for MacBeans, the Espresso Gold that I picked upon the shop assistant’s recommendation is not exactly ticking all the boxes, despite trying some different methods of brewing. First, let me quote the description they have in the store:
This blend of red and yellow coffee cherries from the Daterra plantation won the Gold Medal for the ‘Best Espresso’ at the 2005 World Barista championship, held in Bern Switzerland.
It does have a hint of majesty about it and it sure is rich in flavour – just as Espresso should be. But I kick myself again for choosing Organic (you might remember when I posted that blatant statement that the ‘Organic’ + ‘coffee’ combo doesn’t really seem to work for me) and whether it is my imagination or not, the coffee tastes a bit too acidic and too sharp for my liking. I thought it might be because I was leaving the shots to stand for too long after pouring, but even when sipping on a super fresh and still very hot pour, the same taste buds tingled, stronger and stronger the longer the shot took to settle – so whether on its own or in a latte, that sharpness is still quite noticeable and makes me miss the smoothness of the Italian blend from Ferrer’s.
A note of interest: the reason why I ended up choosing Farrer’s Italian one day, having tried Magarogype and Mexican Tarruno Nayarita (both medium roast) – and ending up not finishing either bag – was that it was the blend used in their cafe. Although the mocha itself didn’t score the highest marks, it was a highly enjoyable cup and I hoped to reproduce that experience in my own abode. Unfortunately, MacBeans do not offer cafe service and focus their business on coffee and tea merchandise – so the option of ‘trying in store and taking it home’ does not apply here. Or does it?
Well, not exactly. If you are a coffee fanatic like myself, and you’re up for a chat with the owner, there is a showcase Espresso machine (for sale – and would I like one of those myself!), that can pour you a little special something to sweeten up your conversation. So rest assured that I will be going back for a more in depth sneak-peak into their exclusives – sooner than you might have thought! Look out for a special report on MacBean’s Coffee & Tea coming this way shortly!