After an extremely busy few weeks of brain storming, planning and training the wait is now over and RoCo Brew Bar has officially opened its doors to the public!!
With the perfect view on the banks of the Foyle, this is one of the many reasons to pop in for a chat with the team and experience the perfect coffee.
It has many unusual features, as soon as you set foot in the door you are graced with the shabby old fashioned timber benches, a rustic 2p and 1p coined counter top, and distinctive pottery just to name a few, but we wanted to get a sneak peak at the work it takes to make that perfect cup of coffee, using Fair Trade products. We caught up with Andrew the Brew Bar Manager to get the low down on that perfect cup of coffee and pot of tea…
So Andrew, well done to you and all team on the opening of RoCo Brew Bar, how does it feel to officially open after many weeks of hard work?
It feels good, we are really excited to see everything in flotation and it came together way better than we expected, yeah it feels really good.
As the only Eco Friendly and Fairtrade Salon in Ireland how have you and the team incorporated this into the Brew Bar to keep in fitting with Salon?
So everything that we aim to do in RoCo in hair the Salon and Brew Bar is be Eco Friendly and Fair Trade and organic. When we brought this over to the Brew Bar, we wanted our food and drinks to be Fair Trade and where it is possible all our drink packaging are recycled products, we recycle all our glass and plastics, cardboard, also all our food is Fairtrade ingredients.
Andrew you mentioned keeping everything local and one of the many stand out features is the pottery, each one individually hand crafted, could you tell us about the process of picking the pottery and how you kept it local?
We initially were looking for a nice comfortable cup for the coffee because to me it is very important that when ever you are drinking your coffee that the cup is really comfortable in your hand and it adds to the experience.
So we had a company lined up that was actually based in England and the cups were beautiful and really pretty and the milk poured really well into it but there was just something in our heads telling us to try investigate into keeping it local and maybe just something, anything out there that we would look at it and price it and see where we could go with it. As it turned out Moville Pottery popped up and Ronan and myself went down to meet Lowry and Brian and from the minute we walked through the door we knew that we would be using Moville Pottery. They were gentlemen and the cups were of top quality make and they felt great in your hands and I also really love the fact they are hand made and each cup has their own individual imperfections and so it just adds to the experience and each persons experience will be different and every walk of life come through the door. I want them to feel treated, like they are the only person in the bar and I think when you get a cup and your cup is different from everyone else’s it is an extra add on which is quite interesting.
Everything is so precise in the Brew Bar, right down to the temperature of the milk and the weighing of the coffee beans, just to mention a few, could you take us through this accurate process of how to make the perfect coffee?
So to give you a background of our coffee, the journey actually starts as the coffee being a plant. For the first 4-5 years no fruit comes from the tree, there is no cherry’s on it at all so after the 4-5 years the farmer starts to see some fruit coming out and then he hand picks it all and puts it in his containers it takes him about 16-20 hours per tree. So the effort that the farmer goes too to get the coffee for me, it is very important that we get it right.
We represent the farmer well and end the product well, so the reason we have it so precise is because I don’t want us to hand over a cup of coffee that takes away from all the effort that the farmer has gone to make the coffee bean and the amount of labour he has put into it and the about labour it takes to get it over here roasted and how fresh it is. Because it is so fresh everywhere else that doesn’t stock this coffee doesn’t get it so fresh because it is in the warehouse but ours comes freshly roasted the next day.
So we weigh out 18grams of coffee and that is a dry roast so we put that into the nest of the espresso machine, we then brew it so it is a wet brew of 36grams of coffee so it is a 2:1 ratio, that would be our espresso base it is always 36grams no matter the size of the cup and then depending on how much milk you want to add you have an option of a 4oz, 6oz, or 8oz cup.
Could you explain the difference in the home and special coffees?
So we have 2 beans in store:
Home Brew – this is a blend, basically how that works is if there is a farmer who cant sustain a solid outgoing of product he would marry up with another farmer and they would join their beans together, provided they go well together and then they would sale out as one product and then they would share the profit and the income. So our home blend is actually called, ‘momentum,’ by 3 separate farmers so we are given the farmers all equal pay which is great.
Special Blend – it is of singe origin so it comes from one farm and is slightly more of a cost because the flavor will always be more fruitful and will be all natural flavouring as well so there is no syrups added, no preservatives, no nothing, its all of how it has been growing in the soil and the fertilizer that has been used.
As an Eco Friendly and Fairtrade Salon and Brew Bar could you tell us about the Fair Trade products you have on offer?
So straight away all our coffees are Fairtrade, which is why we want our coffee and teas to be the highlight off the show we want people to really enjoy their cup of coffee and have a cup of coffee like they have never had it before and taste the real flavour in it. So our coffees are first and foremost Fairtrade products and we our really proud of it.
We also have Fairtrade hot chocolate and chocolate bars as well.
Our ingredients that we use to make the coffee, where we can, we use fair trade products as well.
The menu offers quite a varied selection of foods including focaccias, briskets, salads, sandwiches and cakes for those with a sweet tooth. Do you cater for all needs and diet…
We actually have quite a huge range of gluten free products, at one time you should have a minimum of 3 gluten free products on sale for cakes, we cater for vegans, vegetarians, we also cater for diary free and all our food and drinks are beautiful quality, our bottled beverages are vegan friendly, so it is really good to actually give people opportunities to enjoy really good food no matter what their diet is.
Now that you guys have officially opened could you share the opening hours to catch that perfect cup of coffee…
Our opening hours are:
Tuesday 8am to 5.30pm
Wednesday 8am to 5.30pm
Thursday 8am to 5.30pm
Friday 8am to 5.30pm
Saturday 8am to 4.30pm
When you first step foot in the Brew bar you immediately see the striking features including the timber benches and the 2p and 1p coined counter top to name a few, what inspired these features?
So the Salon was here first, Ronan and Connor got reclaimed sash windows from sites and turned them into mirrors, so this is where you would actually sit to get your hair cut.
All the wood is reclaimed wood, all the furniture is reclaimed from old hotels or derelict buildings that have been closed down for demolition, the furniture too - absolutely everything is reclaimed.
So when we were planning the Brew Bar we wanted it to be the exact same to follow the same process and to reuse and recycle, so again all our wood is reclaimed wood, the table tops are made of old scaffolding posts. What is actually funny is when the guy came for setting up the hair salon to get the scaffolding posts; they had to buy new ones to give to the scaffold company so we could take the old ones!!
So yeah everything is old and fun and everything has a story.
We have a counter top filled with 2p and 1p coins and the thing I always love is the story of those coins, where have they come from, who’s hands have they been in, so all wee things like that add an extra little something to the building.
For Fairtrade fortnight Maria Genao a Banana farm owner from the Dominican Republic visited the salon recently, did she share how her farm operates?
Marie arrived and she came and told us about how she farmed and how she grows her crops and how she dealt with people coming to buy her bananas. It was really interesting to listen too, we had some Fair Trade wine, Fair Trade chocolate and we actually gave her a little make over and she got her hair done, we treated her and looked after her, she was a lovely lady and she had a lovely day.
Could you tell us a little bit about 3fe and the waterloo teas that are on offer and how they are different from other coffee bars?
So our 3fe and waterloo teas, it took us a lot of research to find these, everything we do we want to do it the best we can and to the best of our abilities. So the tea and the coffee were sourced, they deal directly with the farmers, there is no middle men, again we ratio everything out in our teas, the hot water, its at 95degrees for our teas so that it doesn’t make the leafs shrivel so you get full flavour from the leafs and what ever else is in there.
Our coffees are the same we brew these at a certain temperature and our milk that goes alongside it is brewed to between 71 and 85 degrees, just so that it gets out full flavour from the bean, the farmers prefer us to drink it that way so you can taste their actual crop and their efforts.
Is there any events or live music coming up in the Brew Bar we should watch out for?
So on Saturday’s we have live music, just to bring something different that is not usually there until night time, you have to go to a bar to get the live scene, but we want to bring it in during the day, to create a kind of little culture, so on Saturdays we are going to look at trying to bring in fresh new acts, so if you do want a bit of exposure as a band or as a dj or a solo artist, call by or send us an email and we will be in touch.
There is a lot of hard work and accurate measuring to get the perfect Roco Brew Bar coffee and tea, there most have been a lot of intense training for the team….
Yeah the guys all came in from all different backgrounds of coffee, loving it and making it at home and one was actually a barista in a local café bar in town and it was completely different way of thinking and way of doing things. I really wanted the guys to have passion for it and a love for it the way that I do, I just know that the power of a good cup of coffee can bring when your sitting down, you could be having your worst day and you could come in here and sit down and look out at the view and it makes you forgot your day, gives you 3 minutes of not worrying bout anything.
So the training that went into it was, we came in on a Monday to train, we used the coffee beans and only organic milk and it was just repeat, repeat, repeat just always making sure everything is exact, you know we will make mistakes, but its just if you make a mistake come back and changing it so that you deliver a drink that is then accurate and precise. So that you come in, each drink is the same and is as tasted the last time, its not to weak, its not watered down, it’s not to strong just so that it is exactly right.
The milk used is another key feature in perfecting a cup of coffee, what does this procedure involve?
This is the biggest ingredient to the coffee, so you have the coffee, your 36grams in a cup when it is finished, then you add your 4oz, 6oz or 8oz of milk, we don’t go any higher than that because it will dilute the coffee ratio and then the coffee mixture is to watery and you actually don’t taste the coffee.
So we actually brew it between 71 and 85degrees, again we do this so the fruit is tasted in the coffee, so if you add boiling liquid to a fruit it shrivels, it tastes completely different and sour, so when we extract our coffee we want it to be extracted within 30 seconds and then we add our milk to it, if our milk is too hot we are going to remake it, if it is too bubbly we will remake it, if our coffee pours out too slow we will remake it, if it is too fast we will remake it, we will never serve anything that takes away from that actual drink itself. We actually offer our filter coffees, freshly ground on site as well and they take slightly longer to brew because everything is brewing at the one time and if it extracts at about 4-5 minutes and that is how long it will take. We know that when we serve customers, they might be quite conscience and are used to their extra hot skinny lattes, when we drop down our 8oz latte with whole milk they just say its one of the nicest things they have ever had and we are really proud of that and we love the vast about of proteins which are in whole milk so much too.
One of the main things we like to focus on is delivering the final product and the journey the coffee bean goes on, we are the last 10 steps of that and we want it to be the best it can be and we believe doing this with the milk achieves that.
In keeping with the Eco Friendly and Fairtrade Salon and Brew Bar recycling is a big feature in this process, how do you guys contribute to this?
We recycle all our plastic bags, cardboard boxes, glass bottles; glass that breaks, everything is recycled.
In the next few weeks we will be recycling the coffee from the pods, its called a tamp box so we are going to actually look at putting that as packaging and make it so you can recycle it as compost in your garden. We will be giving that out for free so you can feed your flowers with coffee you actually drank that day which is exciting.
Is there any up and coming events we should watch out for in the coming weeks?
We have a few exciting little adventures coming up, a lot of companies are reaching out with their products which is great, with different products such as sweets and marshmallow, everything you can think off. People are looking for somewhere to start and that’s what we are all about helping some companies start out, get their foot in the door, so if you are a small company owner and you have a product e.g beer, anything you want to sell and you haven’t got a market yet come by and see us we would love to help you out if we can.
Photographs by: Yez Lifestyle Photography
Head over to the website for full details and menu http://www.rocobrewbar.com/
After all this chatting about coffee and sweet treats, I think its time I got myself that perfect cuppa coffee and sweet treat with the fitting view!!