Always boxing above its weight, New Zealand is renowned for spectacular scenery, fabulous food & wine, and a can-do-attitude. It’s also a nation obsessed with great coffee. Which is why we’re thrilled to introduce you to KAWA, a start-up that’s bringing kiwi passion & know-how, along with the world’s finest beans to Scotland.
Having lost none of his passion for the place he calls home, ex-pat Regan Black is recreating some of his favourite flavours here in Edinburgh. Though while antipodean food and cafe culture are the long-term goals, this journey begins with some rather magnificent coffee.
From his base in Portobello, Regan’s roasting premium single estate beans under the banner of Kawa. Working with suppliers renowned for excellence, sustainability, and paying a living wage, this is coffee you can feel good about on EVERY level.
Happily the Social Bitches have sampled, and here are three of our favourite beans
[ so far ] along with a few indulgent suggestions on to how make coffee an even bigger part of your life …
RWANDA / INZOVU
With the tentative rise of an eyelid, it’s officially time for the first coffee of the day. As for origin of bean, we say look no further than Rwanda. Sweet, full bodied, with notes of citrus & berry, and an aftertaste of rich caramel & chocolate.
Naturally, this is a fabulous way to wake up, and can be perfectly paired with a classic continental breakfast.
Freshly squeezed orange juice, warm croissants, pain au chocolat, strawberry conserve, and brie with truffle – over which we strongly suggest drizzling a little honey. Ooof!!
We’ve also popped Edith Piaf on to Spotify, and there’s talk of drinking this gorgeous coffee from bowls. Though really there’s no need, as its smooth velvety taste requires no assistance.
Rich, but not heavy, it’s an extremely satisfying brew. Top marks to our Portobello roaster, this coffee – unlike the people drinking it – isn’t bitter in the slightest.
It’s also a wonderful match with our mountain of pastry, giving us a rather pleasing and biscuity aftertaste. Or then again, maybe it’s the aforementioned note of rich caramel. Either way, both the bean and our continental breakfast are top notch.
GUATEMALA / EL LIMMON
The fertile and volcanic soil of Guatemala makes it perfect for producing coffee. There’s also a wealth of small independent coffee farms, and more than 300 different microclimates at play, offering a variety of dazzling flavours.
Though broadly speaking, beans from this region are renowned for either a taste of bittersweet cocoa or milk chocolate, with notes of nut and toffee. Once again, Kawa’s superb offering is wonderfully robust, extremely smooth, and we’re definitely getting that naughty hint of toffee.
Which is why the next pairing would make Mary Berry curse with envy. A fabulous Mars Bar gateau, with rich chocolate sponge, homemade salted caramel, dense cream, mars bars pieces, and coated in soft Lindt chocolate.
While we can’t take an ounce of credit – that honour goes to the amazing Millie’s Little Baked Dreams – we can honestly say we ate every last crumb. It took six days, and technically speaking we may have an eating disorder, but totally worth it.
Mind you, our exciting plans for this fabulous Guatemalan brew don’t end there, we’re also bringing our old friend alcohol to the party.
Combine two tablespoons of espresso with dark spiced rum, tequila and ginger beer. Then pour over ice, into a highball glass, and hey piddly-pokey you have the perfect taste of summer [ should it ever actually arrive. ]
Seriously refreshing, but with a little kick, we promise you this cocktail – simply called a Dark & Stormy – is love at first sip!
INDONESIA / OLD BROWN JAVA
Our final stop: the Indonesian Island of Java, where coffee has been relatively big business for the last three centuries. Here your typical bean boasts a prominent earthiness, a little spice, and quite probably a smoky twist to finish.
As for the unique style of Old Brown Java, these are old estate beans that have been “monsooned” – an aging process that exposes them green and un-roasted to the moist, warm air of the rainy season. Cheeky!
Requiring a certain amount of patience, this can take up to three long years. Mind you, it’s definitely worth the wait. Monsooning strengthens body and taste, increases sweetness, and at the same time dials back the acidity.
For our money, this is the mellowest bean of the Kawa collection, and feels perfect for a Sunday morning. Very much a day you don’t want to be firing on all cylinders, its supple, rather soothing taste is a lovely slow burn.
Old Brown Java’s earthy flavours have also achieved the highly unlikely, and inspired us [ read: Isaac ] to cook. In fact we’re even trying something new: sirloin steak marinated in coffee.
The natural acidity of our favourite beverage not only enhances the flavour of the meat, it does an incredible job of tenderizing it too. Add the likes of molasses, garlic, mustard & thyme to the mix, and things only get more sumptuous.
Our overall verdict: We love, love, LOVE that Kawa has a sublime flavour and strength for every occasion. Though the word that springs to mind no matter what the bean is: SMOOTH! Oh yes, expertly roasted and utterly delicious, the world of coffee just got even MORE exciting.
Reviewed April 2021
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