Simon Brooks has been with Merlo for over 16 years. He is our Head of Roasting and Distribution as well as a fully qualified Q Grader. In fact, Simon recently scored 100% on his Q Grading exam which is a huge achievement. We are very lucky to have Simon’s coffee knowledge and cupping skills. He is the man behind our highest quality coffee, so we thought we’d pick his brain on all things coffee!
What is Q grading?
A person who has gained certification from the Coffee Quality Institute to analyse Arabica Coffee (taste & smell). You can read more about it here
What is a Q Grading exam like?
It’s an assault on your senses. 19 exams over 3 days with 3 days of sensory training in the lead up
What’s your favourite Merlo blend/beans?
Organico, I love the rich flavours of chocolate and hazelnuts
What makes a good cup of coffee?
High quality beans, a great barista and someone to share it with
Where in the world have you had the best cup of coffee?
La Palma y El Tucan in Zipacón, Colombia. They are doing some outstanding things with coffee processing
How do I get better at recognising smells/flavour in coffee?
Memory association is a great way to start. Pick out a smell in the coffee and relate it back to a previous memory. For instance if you’re smelling cherry in the coffee you might relate it back to a cherry ripe chocolate bar. It helps you to pick that same smell out next time
What’s the best at home coffee tip you can give?
Grind your beans on demand, once ground the beans will begin to stale at a faster rate
What are your tips for tasting the true flavours in my coffee?
To slow down, think about and appreciate what you’re tasting
What food pairing would you recommend with coffee?
Anything!! I usually like something sweet like amaretti biscuits or a bombolone.
What is the difference between light and dark roast?
With a lighter roast its easier to pick out the individual characteristics of the coffee. The darker the coffee gets the more body it gets and becomes a more rounded flavour