The Golden Bean. Kingston Making A Mark

The Golden Bean
Kingston Making A Mark
From the opening Cascara to the closing Espresso, the Munster Wine & Dine visit to Marc Kingston’s Golden Bean Coffee roastery in East Cork was an eye-opener.

The Cascara, surprisingly low in caffeine, is made from the dried skins of the cherry of the coffee. Once regarded as waste, the cherry is now used to produce this unique drink, more like a tea than a coffee. But not quite a tea either. More a fruit tissane as suggested here.

Marc, and his assistants Blair and Ciaran, had us up and running and demo followed demo, the highlight being a roasting session on the impressive Giesen machine and then tasting the coffee from that fresh batch!

The machine may be impressive, with a high tech control panel alongside. But high tech or not, it still needs the intervention of a human, a human like Marc, who knows what he’s doing. The coffee picked for roasting was from the Dutra family owned farms in the Matas de Minas area of Brazil.
Blair (left) and Ciaran
It was also the coffee used for our Cold Brew sample. This went down very well indeed and, if you are at the Lit-Fest in Ballymaloe next month and the sun is shining, you may well find it on the coffee menu. Marc’s roastery is in the grounds of Ballymaloe House.

Lots of questions and answers throughout the entertaining evening. All Golden Bean coffees are single estate - he doesn't do blends! - and will be that bit different from year to year. Store your coffee in a cool, dark and dry place.

That gorgeous smell you get when grinding is something of a mixed blessing, as that smell means less flavour in your cup. Many people used electric mills but the blades hammer the beans. Marc reckons the manually operated mill may be best, “good and slow”. And one more tip: don't forget to stir your little cup of Espresso. It will enhance the flavours.
 On mixing other fluids with coffee, Marc is not that keen. “Alcohol kills coffee!” With milk and sugar in it, “it doesn't taste like coffee”. But he did admit to being partial to the odd Espresso Martini!  He did stress that water quality is very important. “We are lucky here in Ballymaloe to have a nice soft water. But in heavy limestone areas, best to use mineral water, a mineral water with a low mineral content.”

Blair guided us through a Colombian tasting, a Finca Camilia from the Santa Barbara Estate owned by the Echeverria family. This company is well known, up there with “the Oscars of the coffee world”. In fact, many of the farmers that Marc buys from are well established and the prices are usually higher than Fair-trade. This was a gem, “peach, toffee, molasses…”

Back to Marc then who told us that your Espresso has “far more antioxidants available” and is processed through your body much quicker, in about 30 minutes. So you can enjoy one after dinner and not be awake late into the night. And, believe it or not, a six month old baby can process Espresso, in proportion, as quickly as an adult!

If using milk, use pasteurised but not homogenised. They use Glenilen (they have a stall near them at the market) and McCarthy’s and, from the bigger names, Clona and Avonmore.


Now the roasting was coming to its climax and Marc, with notes in hand, was taking control as the cracks were heard. Finally, it was done and the now dark beans (they had started off with a light green colour) poured out into the pan before being taken over to our two baristas.

Soon, they were serving us that coffee made from those freshly roasted beans. First up was a filter sample. Excellent! But the class cup was on the way. That Espresso, with gorgeous crema, was my pick of the bunch! A marvellous cup to bring the lovely evening to a close.

So a big thank you to Marc and his assistants for their patience and knowledge and the excellent coffee. The next Wine & Dine event is scheduled for May 27th and will include a visit to Cashel Blue and a farm tour, wine tasting and dinner at Ballinwillin House. Members are requested to keep an eye on emails for updates. If you’d like to join the fun, then send an email to mwdcircle@gmail.com.

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