It’s bean a long time coming, but Borderers are waking up to coffee

Jessica Jerecevich and Richard Keeling, co founders of the Three Hills Coffee Company.
Jessica Jerecevich and Richard Keeling, co founders of the Three Hills Coffee Company.

However you have been drining coffee all your life, there’s a good chance you’ve been doing it wrong.

Maxton pair Richard Keeling and Jessica Jericevich launched the Three Hills Coffee Company at their home in Maxton, near St Boswells, in October. They buy in coffee beans from the likes of Vietnam and Ethiopia and roast them in their specialised roasting machine.

And they say coffee should be treated like any other fresh food ... the earlier it is consumed the better.

Richard told us: “As soon as the coffee beans are roasted, they start to go off, and when they are ground, they really start to degrade.

“They lose all that aroma and caramelised flavour that makes it special.

“Most of the coffee sold in supermarkets is well past this stage and is to some degree old and stale, no matter how airtight or complicated the packaging may be.

“Ideally, freshly roasted coffee should be enjoyed a few days after roasting and immediately after grinding for the best taste.

“And you don’t need a big, expensive machine to grind, you can buy a little hand-grinder for a tenner.”

He also said there was a precise science to roasting the coffee. He added: “The art of coffee roasting lies in the way it is heated, from room temperature to 200°C. The aim is to get as straight a line as possible in the temperature rise, and to roast between 12 to 15 minutes.”

Richard has been a coffee afficionado for many years, as has Jessica, who hails from Croatia, where it is almost a way of life.

Jessica said: “Croatia has a great coffee culture, you can go to certain cafés just to enjoy the coffee.”

The two single-type beans the duo are working with at the moment are from Ethiopia (a very light flavour, almost tea-like) and Vietnam (much richer and ful bodied), and they also provide blends from Brazilian and Columbian beans, named Eildon and Reiver. The blends, for cafetieres and filter machines, are available all year round, while the single-origin beans are seasonal.

Richard said: “Eildonhas a strong coffee aroma, and its flavour is heady enough to cut through milk in something like a latte, while Reiver has more of a sweet, nutty flavour.

“We wanted to give our blends names that evoked the Borders. When you think of the Borders, it’s difficult to not think of the Eildons, which is where, of course, our company name comes from.

“We are now working on a Tweed blend. We have been doing a lot of tasting.”

The duo have been taking their coffee to various local shops and hotels in order to get more of their coffee out there.

Jessica said: “People seem to like it. When we talk about coffee being like fresh food, they are surprised at first, but they can taste the difference.”

And their next venture is to buy a shop in the Borders.

Richard added that, much like the wine world, there are coffee snobs, who are incredibly particular, yet have differing opinions on blends, roasting times, origin, etc.

He said: “On a scale of one to 10, where 10 is your top coffee snob and one is the person who drinks the cheapest instant coffee, we are at about 6 or 7.

“What we would like to do is persuade people to take a step up that ladder and try something different.”

The Three Hills coffee packs retail at between £5.40 and £6.10.

Find out more on http://threehillscoffee.com/