We spoke to co-founder of Three Coffee, Drew Dennehy about creating the perfect morning ritual.
My morning coffee is a small space that I have for myself each day. It allows me to think about what happened yesterday, how that impacts our business, and what I need to do for the rest of the day. I choose one of our coffees and make myself a series of espressos. This changes daily so that I can assess how our coffees are performing over time and ensure that our customers are getting the quality we promise them.
Both Karthik, (my business partner) and I, have been passionate about coffee for a long time. When you spend enough time in an industry you’re passionate about, you get to a point where you say, “I think it’s time to do something ourselves”. We had connections to producers and farmers at origin so that helped us present interesting coffees to people here. We aim to try and make the coffee industry better by helping farmers farm and process their coffee and get them higher prices for their coffee. We want to help our customers make better coffee in their cafes and homes, so we focus a lot on education and training. If our customers and, in turn, their customers, notice an increase in quality in the coffee they buy, we can pay higher prices to the farmers and producers we work with. But, providing high-quality coffee is only half the job. Supplementing this with high-level training and support ensures that our partners are producing delicious coffees for their customers.
Each colour represents a basic set of sensory qualities we believe all coffees can be grouped into.
Brown Coffees tend to exhibit traditional characteristics, like chocolates, caramels and nuts. These tend to be more smooth and balanced coffees. Their tasting notes range from molasses, dark chocolate and tobacco at the darker end of the roast spectrum to toffee, almonds and butter at the lighter end.
Purple Coffees are very aromatic, flavourful and sweet. They tend to be naturally or experimentally processed coffees. These give them their purple fruit, dried fruit and deeper notes. These are coffees that are complex and often exhibit notes of berries, chocolate, sweet citrus and deep sweetness.
Green Coffees are fruit-forward and lively, often displaying sweet citrus, stone fruit and floral notes. They’re characterised by their vibrancy and celebrate a key component of speciality coffee; positive acidity. Often, speciality coffee gets a bad wrap for presenting customers with sour coffees. If sourced, roasted and brewed with care, these coffees can be beautifully sweet with their acidity coming through as something positive in the cup. Green coffees hint at lighter fruits rather than the deeper fruits that Purple Coffees display.
We wanted to try and make it easy for people to understand what they were drinking, without having to know too much about the coffee. If they know that they like green coffees, they know they can pick up pretty much any coffee within that colour range and enjoy it. But the system doesn’t stop you from enjoying coffees in other colours, it just allows you to know the general characteristics of the coffee you’re looking at.
I’ve been in the industry for around 12 years. I initially started working as a barista to pay for food and rent when I was at university. From there, I started my journey and fell into the rabbit hole that is speciality coffee. It’s such an interesting and diverse industry, there’s so much to continue learning to do.
Coffee is and has been important for hundreds of years, dating back to the religious practice of the Sufis in ancient Arabia, to the Ottoman empire and the advent of the industrial revolution. Coffee is important for four main reasons; acuity (caffeine), ritual, socialising, and of course taste. Throughout the recent lockdown, it’s been interesting to see how people’s priorities have changed. People haven’t needed the caffeine to wake up as often and haven’t been able to socialise. The ritual and, more importantly, the taste of coffees they buy have become so much more important. People have become more interested in where coffee comes from, why it tastes the way it does and how they can incorporate slower, pour-over style coffees into their morning routines. Coffee has become more about connecting with the product, not simply a crutch to get through the day.
Our co-founder and Head of Coffee, Karthik, used to travel 3-4 months of the year sourcing new coffees and building relationships with farmers and producers. We work with farmers and producers directly for around 90 per cent of the coffees we source, a number we aim to get to 100 per cent in the next year. This means going to farms, seeing how they grow their coffee and providing them ideas on how they can increase the potential of their coffee. Sometimes this is buying new equipment for them, sometimes it’s offering advice on how to process their coffee differently. Being able to do this is rewarding because you get to buy really tasty coffee and feel good about it. Making the coffee industry better means ensuring the people we’re buying from, grow with us.
People are often aware that every origin has its own set of tastes, aromas and flavours. But even more interesting is that you can have an even broader range of flavours that come from within each origin. For example, we have two Colombian coffees from the same farm. They were processed (see boxout) differently and, as a result, they taste completely different. One tastes like caramel and chocolate, the other like plums and orange! To be able to differentiate between coffees takes a little practice. It’s a bit like becoming a sommelier of wine!
Dubai had always interested me as a place where things were happening and business was being done. The speciality coffee scene here is fairly new but has developed so fast over the last couple years. The UAE and the Gulf region, in general, are placed to make some big things happen in the coffee industry.
Aside from our Coffee by Colour system, I think that three main things set us apart; our relationships with farmers, our knowledge and experience, and our team. Our relationships with our farmers and producers allow us to source and provide unique coffees to our customers. From Indonesia and Thailand, to Costa Rica and El Salvador, we have a diverse range of tastes and flavours. Our team’s combined experience in the coffee industry is almost 90 years’ and so we know what we’re doing. I think the biggest thing that people say when they meet us is that despite being a new company, our customers trust us.
Our team is the best bunch of people and I love them. They’re so professional. They love what they do and they have this crazy desire to be the best. Whether that’s roasting or making coffee, to educating and training people.
“Blooming” coffee refers to ‘saturating’, or fully wetting, your coffee grounds, and waiting for a short while, before you begin brewing. When coffee is roasted, it produces CO2 gas as a natural by-product. This gas is trapped in the beans and is something we don’t want in there. The idea behind ‘blooming’ is to wet the coffee so that the gas can escape, giving us better-tasting coffee.
There is no one perfect brewing technique. Many different steps need to be followed depending on which piece of equipment you’re using to make your coffee. But, there is an overarching idea that never changes. And this is the idea that you want your extraction (how the water travels through the coffee grounds and removes flavour from them) to be as even as possible. There’s a few tips and tricks that you can use to try and make extractions as even as possible, but it requires training and patience to get them right.
Definitely, the Aeropress because it can produce a few different types of beverages, can travel with you and doesn’t break easily. They can also make some awesome tasting coffee if used right.
Coffee isn’t just a drink. It’s a global commodity. It comes second only to oil in total value traded each year and, as such, employs millions of people around the world. Coffee is the lifeblood of the capitalist economy. I think around a quarter of the developed world is semi-addicted to coffee without even realising it. So much of our global economy is not just made up of the trade in coffee futures and physical stock, but relies on our caffeine addicts’ brains to make it run.
We’re going big. We want to be known as the best coffee company in the Middle East. That doesn’t just mean coffee quality, but also how we support the people who buy coffee from us; cafes, restaurants and people at home. We’re currently building our showcase roastery, which will include a service centre for equipment, glass-cased roasting room, espresso bar, experience centre and most importantly, a training facility. Training is so important as it allows people to understand the story of the coffee, how we roast it and how they can use techniques and knowledge to get the best out of it. High-quality beans are only half the story – how you make it is the other. We want to empower everyone who buys from us to make better coffee and from those cups, make coffee better.
What you need
1. Push plunger out of the chamber
2. Put the filter in a filter cup. (Use two filters for cleaner taste)
3. Twist the filter cup onto the chamber. Preheat the brewer and rinse the filter with hot water. This gets rid of any paper flavour and warms everything up. Heat your cup or mug with hot water while you are at it.
4. Stand the chamber on a sturdy mug. Measure and grind the coffee about as fine as table salt.
5. Shake to level coffee. Discard the rinse water from your mug.
6. Add water up to Level 4 on the chamber or 210gr of water. 90°C for hot brewing. Start your timer when you pour hot water into your brewer. Saturate all the grounds within 10 seconds.
7. Stir for about 45 seconds for hot brewing.
8. Insert plunger and gently press down with steady pressure, stopping as soon as you hear a hissing sound. This entire brew process should take just under 1.3 seconds for hot brewing and yield around 7 oz of coffee.
9. Remove filter cap, push the plunger to eject used coffee and rinse seal. Clean the rubber plunger with hot kettle water and you’re ready for your next brew.
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