Ever wonder about the origin of C&M’s coffee? This is it.
Take the cross-country route from the north towards Goodwood and you’ll find yourself leaving the A3 at Petersfield and sweeping across the South Downs on gorgeous, flowing B-roads. Make the trip at the right time of day, at the right time of year, and if you’re lucky, you’ll be on empty roads, with shafts of dappled light breaking through the trees and the morning mist gently lifting. It’s the sort of drive that makes you remember why you like cars in the first place.
After passing through the village of East Lavant, you’ll take the arrow-straight road with the Motor Circuit’s big earth spectator banks on your right. Reach the roundabout, and instead of hanging a right to get to Goodwood’s famous gates, carry on straight ahead, cut through the tiny hamlet of Strettington, and make a right towards an unassuming industrial estate. This is where caffeinated brilliance occurs.
Our relationship with Cast Iron Coffee Roasters goes right back to C&M’s beginnings. We’d narrowed down our potential coffee suppliers to two candidates, and the day after we got off the phone with Cast Iron’s founder, Guy Spurr, he was on site at the still-unfinished Houndshill, brewing coffees for everyone overhauling the building. The choice, at this point, was obvious.
Guy has an interesting story to tell himself, and it’s one we’ll go into another time, because it deserves an article of its own. For now, know that it starts with racing Porsches with Chris Harris at the Nürburgring, moves through tragedy and a complete change of career, from job to passion. Stay tuned.
It’s always good to stop by for a catchup with Guy and his small, dedicated team. We’re serious about our coffee – it’s literally in our name – so it’s reassuring to see first-hand the craftsmanship that goes into its creation.
First, though, we need to get there, which brings us back to that perfect morning drive. Fittingly, we’re in a Porsche, but there’s no fizzing flat-six or even a thundering turbocharged V8 soundtracking the journey.
That’s because we’re in the firm’s first EV, the Taycan. Specifically, it’s the Sport Turismo GTS version. An electric Porsche estate car would have been unthinkable not that long ago, but here we are.
That’s not to say it’s a modern electric take on the Volvo 940, though. It follows in the footsteps of the bigger, combustion-powered Panamera Sport Turismo, the roofline staying low and the tailgate steadily tapering off. We’re lucky, given the presence of a pair of rear doors, that Porsche has resisted the urge of slapping the ‘Shooting Brake’ moniker on it – it’s certainly a style-over-space take on the estate car, although it will at least accommodate a fair few bags of coffee.
As with petrol-powered Porsches, the GTS name denotes a focus on handling over outright pace. It’s still organ-rearrangingly quick though – 590bhp and 627lb ft of instantly-accessible torque will do that, especially in Sport Plus mode, where the Taycan’s piped-in sci-fi noises eerily imitate the rising and falling revs of an engine, throttle blips and all.
It’s debatable whether this is the first true driver’s EV, but it’s easily amongst the most convincing efforts so far. The steering lacks that last level of super-granular feedback, but has a beautiful natural weight to it. The pedals have an analogue feel to them despite the resoundingly digital nature of the drivetrain they’re connected to. There’s all manner of clever electronic trickery going on to bestow the 2.3-tonne Sport Turismo with remarkable agility, although it will eventually start to push wide on these wet, greasy roads.
Relentlessly modern, it’s a machine in sharp contrast to the ones that do the legwork at Cast Iron, which gets its name from the metal forming its industrial roasters. A commercial coffee roasting machine looks like it belongs in the industrial revolution, belching flame and smoke from one end while a worker with a soot-streaked face shovels coal into the other.
The reality isn’t quite so Dickensian – a gas bottle heats a rotating drum, into which unroasted green coffee beans are emptied. The beans gently roast, taking on the distinctive brown colour that most coffee marketers would rather you saw, and releasing their flavours, before being emptied into a cooling tray.
This process can be likened to that of driving a good car – in both instances, the right ingredients and a perfectly measured amount of human input into the machine’s working is required to produce an outcome that’s deeply satisfying to the senses.
Perhaps that’s what draws people like us and Guy towards small-batch coffee roasting; that interplay between human and machine to create something life-enriching. You could drink instant coffee, and you could drive an anonymous crossover, but if the alternatives are accessible, then why not reach for that extra layer of satisfaction?
The other advantage of small-batch production is that all the coffee is completely traceable in its origins, and benefits the often-poor communities that the beans are grown in. Most of Cast Iron’s roasts are single origin, their journeys detectable back to one specific farm.
C&M’s Yard Blend, meanwhile, was created as the perfect house espresso, and combines beans from identifiable farms in Brazil, Ethiopia and Sumatra. It’s an ideal all-round blend, and luckily, we’ve got an ideal all-round car into which we load several bags of caffeinated goodness for the return trip.
There’s an increasing focus on reducing our consumption of raw materials in day-to-day life, be that through less wasteful production methods or lower-emission vehicles. Both Cast Iron’s coffee and the Taycan GTS are reassuring evidence that the things that bring us pleasure are in very safe hands in this new era.