Supermarket Challenge

Posted by Karl Purdy on Dec 27, 2010

A few weeks back I was kindly asked by Evening Herald journalist, Leslie Williams, to participate in a cupping of supermarket coffees along with food & wine writer, obsessive home roaster and friend, Ernie Whalley. The purpose of which was to give the paper's readers an objective view of the coffees readily available on the shelves of Ireland's main supermarkets and rank them accordingly. That article was published in today's Evening Herald. I won't re-hash what was clearly written, but given the quality of the coffee we cupped (referenced against what I usually taste), the scores presented in the final article were very generous and some of my more colourful descriptors were wisely edited out (no doubt potential advertisers may have been miffed). But I really felt a few of these coffees would be better suited at repelling slugs in my back garden. Some may feel that I'm being disingenuous (given my own position as a coffee reseller), but I do feel the that it is collectively shameful that the Irish public should be subjected to such an appallingly bad coffee product by it's major roasters and retailers. Surely part of their job is tasting and QC'ing every product going out of the factory and being housed on their shelves? For what it's worth, I had previously compiled a list of Irish roasters - see here. And disappointingly, a couple of these brands were on tasting table that day. The only further advice I can offer is to continue to shop around and do taste what other roasters have to offer. And if getting their product is not handy, I'm fairly certain most offer a very convenient mail order service and will grind to suit if needed. We certainly do at CoffeeAngel. And if you don't find a coffee that pleases you on this small island (and you are not prepared to go down the route of home-roasting like Ernie), you could do much worse than trying what these very fine UK roasters have to offer - HasBean, Square Mile & James Gourmet Coffee. I must accept that the purpose of this newspaper article was to offer clear advice to those trudging down the aisles after a hard week's work, but I can assure you that there are amazing coffees out there and it really is worth the extra effort to seek them out. Given what I have tasted... it appears the supermarkets are unable to do so.