Wake up and roast the coffee in Muswell Hill

The trio behind Fireheart Coffee based at Kourto Cafe in Alexandra Park Road, Muswell Hill

Paul Tocher Russell Stinson and Thomas De Garnham, the trio behind Fireheart Coffee based at Kourto Cafe in Alexandra Park Road, Muswell Hill - Credit: Courtesy of Fireheart

Whether it's buying the perfect flat white from a favourite Barista, or grinding and steeping lovingly-sourced beans, the morning cup of coffee has become a quasi-religious ritual for some.

And with the rise of coffee connoisseurs, has come an upswing in roasteries to supply London's flourishing caffeine habit. Fireheart is a friendly neighbourhood outfit run out of Korto cafe in Muswell Hill - perhaps familiar as a location for parenting comedy Motherland.

The first batch was roasted in July 2020 in a back room dominated by hessian sacks full of green 'cherries' from Colombia, Peru, Ethiopia, Ecuador and Indonesia. Plunge in your nose, and they smell almost grassy, but with the help of sophisticated software and a gleaming roasting machine called Scarlet, they turn into dark brown, richly aromatic beans in just 15 minutes.

Green coffee cherries from Fireheart Roastery in Muswell Hill

The green 'cherries' are bought seasonally depending on where the crop is harvested - Credit: Archant

I lent a hand to roast one of the small batches - 12kg of El Palto organic Peruvian beans at 150 degrees - and was amazed to see them cooled and bagged within minutes in recyclable pouches, ready to brew.

Buyer and roaster Thomas De Garnham explains that the difference between supermarket coffee and Fireheart is freshness and quality.

Thomas De Garnham with Fireheart Roastery's machine nicknamed Scarlet

Thomas De Garnham with Fireheart Roastery's machine nicknamed Scarlet - Credit: Archant

"Being an organic product it's a seasonal crop. We have different coffee shipments arriving fresh into the UK at different times. I get samples delivered ahead and taste it to make a decision on that coffee. Once it's out of stock that's it until next year.

"Your coffee on the supermarket shelf could be 12 months old."

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It's also likely to be a lower grade - coffee is graded - and Fireheart buys only cherries above 80percent, which are Fairtrade, often handpicked, and grown with few pesticides.

Coffee beans at Fireheart Roastery

The beans are roasted in small batches then cooled down before packaging - Credit: Archant

The New Zealander, who used to run a coffee kiosk in Auckland, learned roasting as he went along and has good relationships with coffee importers as well as chatting regularly to producers online. New deliveries are tested to determine the best roast, and Fireheart's subscribers enjoy the changing rosta of speciality single estate coffees, while the house blend The Palace is named after local landmark Ally Pally.

"It's a great Sunday morning coffee," says Fireheart co-owner Paul Tocher, adding "We sell mostly online but the locals in Muswell Hill pop town and grab it off the shelf."

Fireheart Coffee is based at the back of Korto restaurant in Alexandra Park Road, Muswell Hill

Fireheart Coffee is based at the back of Korto restaurant in Alexandra Park Road, Muswell Hill - Credit: Fireheart Coffee

As a rule of thumb, South America yields rich chocolatey flavours, while African beans are floral and fruity. A quarter of Fireheart's sales are pods, but beans are most popular.

"People like the whole ritual of grinding them up in the morning," says Tocher.

Coffee lovers who consume a bag a week can keep beans at room temperature, any longer and they should go in the fridge.

It's worth noting that the cafe, which opened in December 2018, serves delicious Mediterranean breakfasts and lunches from 9-3pm daily. After a not too exerting roasting session, we feasted on silky houmous, flatbreads, crispy sweet potato fries, and generous portions of crisp, spicy buttermilk chicken with crunchy 'slaw and harissa dip.

Order coffee at  https://fireheartcoffee.com/ or visit Korto at 126 Alexandra Park Road, N10. https://www.korto.co.uk/