04 September 2015

Behind the Scenes at Pact Coffee

I first tried coffee from Pact, a London-based coffee discovery and delivery company, a couple of years ago. The concept is simple: choose from a small selection of coffee varieties, which are sourced from around the globe and roasted in small batches in the London roastery and which can be delivered to your home or office as often as you like and, if you wish, ground to your specification. If you're a coffee geek or coffee geek in training, you will enjoy the tasting notes card that comes in every package. Most bags cost £6.95 for 250g, making them much more expensive (though much higher quality) than your average supermarket coffee, although a similar price or cheaper than many specialist coffee beans that are easy to source in London. You can usually find a code online or on Twitter to get your first bag for £1.

I liked Pact's coffee a lot but wasn't convinced their service was for me. I live within a few minutes walk of Monmouth's coffee roastery and I like be able to pick out my own beans. However, Pact also offers convenience: they make it very easy to enjoy good coffee. I still buy Monmouth beans for use at home, but I get a Pact delivery to my office every few weeks, with the coffee ready ground for use in my Aeropress, so that I don't need to keep grinding beans at home and taking the coffee in small batches into work.

A few weeks ago, Pact got in touch to see whether I'd be interested in coming to visit their office and roastery, and of course I was! Besides, they are based in Bermondsey, so I didn't have far to go. The Pact HQ is located in the Biscuit Factory, near the bouldering centre I go to sometimes. The office looks like a great place to work and, as you would expect, the kitchen contains every conceivable brewing method. If only my company's facilities department could learn from this! I met Ed, Pact's head of PR, over a coffee and then we went to explore the roastery.

The roaster was hard at work with the latest batch. Pact tend to have seven or eight coffee varieties on the go at any one time, and the beans are stored in colourful containers while they await shipping. The production line, although small, is very efficient. Once the beans are roasted, they are ground, if required, and packaged ready for mailing or delivery by bike courier. I asked whether their next move might be to open up any caf├ęs, but they are focusing on the enjoyment of coffee at home for now, and they seem to be doing remarkably well. The company has grown a lot since I first subscribed.

One of the current coffees is from Bibi Plantation in India. As I had never tried coffee from India before, Ed gave me a bag of beans to take home and try. I finally cracked open the package last week and tried out the coffee. I tend to prefer smoother, more chocolatey Central and South American coffees, although in the summer, I often go for the fruitier African coffees.

I was unsure where India coffee would sit on this spectrum. Bibi was extremely full-bodied, with a slightly bitter dark chocolate aftertaste. I liked it a lot but I think I would wait until the autumn or winter before ordering it again, when such a complex, robust coffee can help to cut through a cold, dark morning.

Find Pact Coffee online here and on Twitter here.

Disclaimer: Pact invited me to visit their roastery and gave me a bag of Bibi beans to try. All opinions are my own.

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