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Stockbridge coffee roaster on the science behind the bean

Stockbridge coffee roaster on the science behind the bean

A row of roasted boxed beans lines the counter at Edinburgh coffee roasters Mr Eion.

Behind the blend of coffee aromas is Eion Henderson’s workshop.

  (© STV)
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Glass beakers, measuring scales and flavour charts are dotted across the small Stockbridge shop.

It is a space where the coffee roaster is in his element.

“I am a bit of a frustrated science geek,” Eion laughs.

“I have laboratory glassware kicking about all over the place… it is ever so slightly Breaking Bad.”

  (© STV)
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Setting up shop in Edinburgh in 2013, Eion’s love of coffee spans back to his teenage years when he worked under a chef who would offer him a double espresso before the start of each shift.

The habit became a ritual which slowly evolved into a passion. After co-founding an independent coffee shop in Aberdeen after university, the business opened a second café in the city centre.

While working as a barista, his interest into roasting flared as he continued to delve into book after book on the subject and try out roasting his own beans at home using a popcorn machine.

  (© STV)
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In 2013, Eion moved to Edinburgh and opened up Mr Eion Coffee Roasters.

“It just fascinates me,” Eion explains while sitting next to his new Diedrich roaster machine in the Stockbridge shop.

“You can really get very detailed and granular about it. You can set very fine parameters for the extraction of coffee and use different methods.

“I like that you can cobble things together to get a result that is fantastic.”

Fast approaching their second anniversary in Stockbridge, Eion now works with many of Edinburgh’s independent coffee roasters to make their unique roast for their shop, with an overcrowded map on the wall showing this growing coffee empire.

  (© STV)
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On any given day, Eion, alongside Meave Alexander who also works in the roasters, can be working on up to 20 roasts a day with each roast taking around 15 minutes.

At the centre of the workspace the Diedrich roaster sits proudly, a recent purchase of which uses ceramic infra-red burners and heat exchangers to help with the roasting capabilities and allow for a more controlled roast.

While doubling the size of his previous roaster, a keen eye is still needed to monitor the changing shade of the bean and tailor timings for each individual roast.

  (© STV)
via STV via STV
  (© STV)
via STV via STV

“We roast to order,” Eion explains. “Very seldom is anything more or two or three days off the roast before it goes out the door to keep it as fresh as possible.

“It may well be that something is very fruity so we try and bring out those fruity notes. Like the Ethiopian coffee I have, it is very dark fruits and stone fruits so we look to try and bring out the best in that without it becoming too sour.

“The Brazil is a really nice milk chocolate and caramel, so you want to bring forward those nice chocolate notes without it going too bitter.

  (© STV)
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“And the Peruvian coffee is a really nice sweet malt chocolate notes, a little bit like Maltesers.

“The roasting caramelises the sugars and creates a natural sweetness and lifts out the other natural flavours.

“There are oils in there as well that stay within the coffee when it is a lighter roast. That's where a lot of the flavour is."

In-between roasts, there is always time to test out the flavours and enjoy a brew or two while planning ideas for some new Christmas roasts.

A first trial run of their cold brew at the recent Edinburgh Coffee Festival has also set in motion ideas for Eion to tap into the science behind this drink.

“If it is hot, we tend to drink a lot of cold brew,” Eion said. “We are keen to crack the cold brew because the feedback was amazing.

“We are also quite keen to do coffee roasting events with some of the cold coffee too so it can be paired with a larger range of food.”

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