“The coffee has a subtle fruitiness to it that underlies the traditional chocolate base when brewing on Chemex. On Espresso, the flavours were incredible, an instant tang on your tongue might shock the system, but a gradual sweet honey develops, leaving you wanting more and wondering how a perfectly frothed milk will go with it.”
- Khaled Rayyan,
"As you taste it you’re going to find that fruitiness is coupled with a caramel taste. It will take on more of the darker tasting characteristics as it ages. It’s a medium body & it’s definitely a very nice and elegant cup."
Most days you'll find Hale Coffee Co. roasters Khaldoun Toukan and Khaled "Ray" Rayyan hanging out in their upstairs unit on Spadina Avenue in Toronto experimenting with coffee. "This is where we do our testing" says Rayyan, who for the interview had the place clean as a whistle. "It's not always like this. The space changes depending on what's going on here." It doesn't take long to realize what the place is - a coffee laboratory. Toukan says that they test and monitor everything: the beans, the roasting manoeuvres, even the mood of the guys when they're roasting. As they phrase it, they're "leveraging science and art to explore the coffee universe" where Toukan says "it's the art of roasting that takes us places, but it's the science that allows us to go back and get those results again."
These guys didn't always know what it means to have an appreciation for coffee. Most of them had corporate jobs, and drank what everyone else around them did. "What am I drinking?" Rayyan remembers asking himself, "Just dark water".
They began visiting smaller cafes in town, talking to the owners / employees, and really getting to understand the coffee world through the eyes of a customer. "We realized there is a new aspect to coffee that we didn't even know", says Rayyan.
Now, Hale Coffee's mission is to bring coffee to people in an accessible way. None of that jargon, none of that snootiness that turns people off. "The biggest motivator," for Rayyan, "is that I can change how you feel about coffee".
They often roast for community events, bringing coffee to hundreds of people at a time, working hard (sometimes into 3 or 4 in the morning) to give something special to people that live in their city. "We love this city," remarks Toukan, "We feel like a part of it and we want grow with it".
Hale Coffee roasts only one or two pounds at a time. A 2.5kg capacity roaster is what they use to make coffees for many of the restaurants and cafe's in the area.
What's special about their process is that they custom tailor coffees for these restaurants depending on their menu. "If you're preparing it with breakfast it's a completely different taste profile than if it were an Italian restaurant" says Toukan. They study a menu, they talk to the owners, the chefs, and work to find a coffee that suits the meal perfectly. As Ray puts it, "We can actually say, 'we literally made this for you'".
The coffee from Hale in this issue is a great all around cup - it can even stand up well to cream or hold its own in a latté. The guys at Hale don't want to give too much away as far as flavour profiles go - making your own assertions is part of the fun - but you'll likely find this floral coffee has some darker notes and a fruitiness that can take charge or give way to other flavours depending on the temperature and brewing methods. Enjoy!