Roaster Review: Square Mile Vs Coffee Pimps Vs Campbell & Syme

Over the past month I’ve been pitching 3 competitors of the roasting world against one another. We’ve got the big boys (Square Mile), the new kids on the block (Coffee Pimps) and the independents (Campbell & Syme). Each brought something different to the table and the similarities and differences between them were very interesting.

Firstly I owe a big thank you to Coffee Pimps for sending me some of their ‘Morning Glory’ single origin to try out for this comparison.

For each coffee I made a latte and brewed a cup of coffee in my AeroPress to see how each coffee coped with each. I then used the AngelsCup app to make note of my findings. If you’ve never used it, AngelsCup is an amazing app that allows you record coffee tastings and it breaks each tasting into sections of: colour, aroma, taste, intensity, body, flavour, defects then gives an enjoyment rating out of ten.

So let’s start with the big boys. Square Mile are well established roasters in East London and they produce two blends (Redbrick and Sweet Shop) as well as a range of incredible single origin varieties. In this test I was using Redbrick – a seasonal blend of Brazilian (40%), Columbian (40%) and Ethiopian (20%) coffee. Right off the bat let me say that this coffee tastes as if it’s designed to appeal to everyone which isn’t a bad thing. It’s the coffee I use at work for customer tastings purely because it’s so un-divisive. In both the AeroPress and in a latte it produced an incredibly smooth cup with very low acidity. The balance of flavours that inherently come from Columbian and Brazilian beans shine through beautifully in both cases and the Ethiopian beans just give the drink a bit of backbone. Square Mile gives tasting notes of caramel, raspberry and dark chocolate and for the most part I’d agree. I would say theres also a distinct walnut flavour in the background with bits of cherry too. Overall it’s incredibly nice, whatever time of day, whatever brew method you use.

Moving on to Coffee Pimps; these guys have the best names for their blends. Go have a look at what they offer on their website because it’s well worth it. Coffee Pimps are incredibly new roasters based in Shoreditch (predictably). I was trying the ‘Morning Glory’ single origin from Papua New Guinea and it was interesting to taste the difference between a latte and an AeroPress brew with it. In a latte the taste was subtle and understated but in an AeroPress the difference was like night and day. Their site describes it as “a full-bodied mouthfeel, and sweet, with a winey acidity. The high notes of tropical fruit are a welcome surprise, leaving a clean finish and a long dark chocolate aftertaste” I can’t say my experience quite resonated with that description. I got a distinct smokey flavour every time I brewed, at first I thought I had burned the coffee with water that was too hot but in fact I hadn’t, the coffee just had a natural smokey ash flavour which I came around to quite liking. I don’t quite know what the best way to put how I felt about this is so I’ll just say I have mixed opinions on this coffee.

Finally Campbell & Syme and their El Salvador pure origin which they call “Finca los Pirineos” (bought through Bean & Bud) and OH MY GOD IT’S GOOD. What can I say? This is some good sh*t. It had such a perfect balance of sweetness and acidity. The complexity of the flavour was beautiful and in both an AeroPress and a latte there was a gorgeous warmth to the flavour. I was so determined to try and find a fault with this but to be honest I was struggling. The only thing I would say is that the bag of beans I bought was roasted a good 3 weeks before I bought them which will have definitely affected the flavour but if semi-stale beans taste this god then I’m not complaining. I think their given tasting notes of “kiwi acidity, muscat grapes, nougat and a smooth mouthfeel” couldn’t be more spot on. Needless to say I really really enjoyed this coffee.

I think then it’s pretty clear to see which I think was the best. Redbrick was lovely but there was nothing really unique about it. Coffee Pimps was really nice but there was a case of having to learn to like it which I did eventually but to be honest neither came close to Campbell & Syme. But of course this is tasting and it’s completely subjective. Bear in mind that brew method may have changed this result too. I have a suspicion that ‘Morning Glory’ would be really nice in a V60 but in this test there was one clear winner.

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