Fairtrade Fortnight may be over, but that doesn’t mean it’s not something to still think about. When someone else is making the coffee for you, you may be drawn to particular beans because of their fair trade status. Why not apply the same criteria when you’re drinking it at home or work? Handily the good people at Fair Trade New Zealand sent us a big box of fairtrade goodies to sample, so after the jump, we sample six different coffees for you. You’re welcome!

All of the coffee, some of the moustaches

The method

First, a word about the science of it. I haven’t ever been to a proper coffee cupping session, because they generally happen later in the day and I can’t do caffiene after 12pm (please don’t take my ‘ista status away from me when I confess I can only have one cup a day). However, in order to make the tasting more sciencey, I did wear a white coat, which makes any kind of testing more scientific. The first bag of coffee said we should let it steep for three minutes in a plunger, and use one scoop per cup, which is what we did, until we didn’t. Two of the coffees came in whole bean form so we borrowed a hand grinder (which was kind of annoying in that the beans fell out of the top as well as we passed it around).  The tasting panel consisted of myself, two food bloggers and a former barista and current judge for 48 Hours, who knows a lot about the need for caffination. One of the panel turned out to be too hungover to even try the coffees, but we won’t name names. If you would like to match our research, you might also wish to bake these Filipino coconut buns, as they are delicious and go very well with the coffee. Now onto the results!

The results

First up was Scarborough Fair . The grinds had a rich smell, but the coffee itself when we’d plunged it didn’t have much of an aroma. We thought it tasted watery (despite us making it exactly to the specifications on the bag) – perhaps we could have doubled the amount of coffee for a better result though. There was a faint chemical aftertaste as well.

Next we had Inca Fe, which is made from Peruvian beans roasted in New Plymouth. Although also in a foil bag, this tasted fresher than the Scarborough Fair. We noticed a lot of raisin & citrus notes in this coffee and were stoked when we read the bag label and found it described like that.  It tasted a lot like coffee you’d get somewhere with a bottomless cup, like Monterey. That said, we should have made it stronger too. This coffee went home with one of the panelists because they liked it so much.

Then we had Robert Harris Ethiopian Fair Trade, and the phrase “for Kiwi tastes” on the bag put us off straight away, we were expecting something as challenging as butter chicken but it turned out to be worse. The smell was described by one person as “like a stew” and by another as “like a doctor’s waiting room”. The hungover person fled at this stage. There was an artificial berry taste to it, and it seemed over-roasted and burnt for the illusion of strength. We had used two scoops for this brew, but it still lacked actual impact. Plus the foil bag it was in smelled really chemically. Not recommended.

We moved onto a lovely paper bag after that, which made us happy after that chemical warfare. In it was Hutt company Celcius Coffee‘s Capital Blend, and we were all like “oh yes, THIS is what coffee is supposed to smell like” as we poured it out. It was a chocolatey coffee, free of nasty burnt feelings. It was quite a subtle coffee and we can imagine with a name like that it would be blended especially for flat whites, because it was quite acidic. It would be great with cake.

Time to bring out the grinder then, as we moved onto whole beans, again from Celcius but this time their Firehouse blend. The beans themselves didn’t smell that strong, but once we had them in the grinder, they really woke up. This was universally our favourite coffee, with a lovely aftertaste, rich and smooth. Yum!

Finally, we finished by grinding up some Kokako Rangitira beans. They smelled surprisingly minty actually, like peppermint Whittakers Sante bars. We found the Kokako to be a little bitter, but it was great with the fairtrade chocolate we’d been sent along with the coffee!

So there you go, five companies, six different kinds of coffee, all available in Wellington and all fair trade. Maybe you wanna give some of them a go next time you’re going to make a brew at home?