Climb into our Tardis, cartwheel back through time to a kitchen table up some blasted Delaware County dale, black as ink, wintry as extinction’s alp. There’s wood in the stove, soup in the Aga, whisky in the jar-o. We’re in the grip of a Powell-Pressburger fantasy; holed up in some crofter’s cottage on the Isle of Mull, tempest without, tempest within, its tendrils making the candlelight dance fouetté en tournant. There are dark words of old curses, of love lost and something damp and murky in the sporran. Tomorrow we will navigate the Corryvreckan whirlpool in a St Ayles skiff, be rescued from the teeth of the maelstrom by Roger Livesey, who’ll wrap us in itchy Hebridean blankets and dry us off in front of the fire, with licking spaniels, hot toddies and the words ‘What the hell d’ye think ye were up to, lassie?’
We ache to kiss him, but we’re betrothed to Sir Robert Bellinger. We thought we knew; we knew nothing.
Table on Ten. Fashioned at late-night kitchen tables on twin cornerstones of communion and coffee. What if, tomorrow morning, there was somewhere warm to gather, celebrate tonight, shake off its Manhattans with coats and scarves, foggy windows and a cigarette. And coffee. What if all things that must pass didn’t? What if they started again tomorrow? What would it take? Friends. A home. And coffee.
Irving Farm have been with us from the first creak of the door. There was something instantly appealing in their melding of city and country, their dedication to craft and provenance, their diabolical commitment to coffee as an end in itself. Also, they were prepared to take in hand a brace of eager neophytes and school them in the ways of dark matter; despite the fact we weren’t entirely sure who – if anybody – was going to cross the threshold seeking baptism by macchiato. Over the eighteen months of our gestation they stood by us like armorial gryphons, a swivel-eye reminder that coffee done well requires faith, exactitude and commitment. They inducted into the creed, in turn, Cindy, Katrin and Kathleen. Each went in wide-eyed, ham-fisted and virginal: each emerged anointed, walking a bit funny and cackling with caffeine, their barista fingers deft as prestidigitators’.
Late September brought High Priestess and Summoner, Teresa von Fuchs and Ugo Aniukwu, to Bloomville. Sixteen months into our novitiate, we were ready to try out some vows. They came with beans, vessels and paraphernalia, fashioning an impromptu altar by the refrigerator, temporarily blocking access to the ice-cream sandwiches. It was sort of like that scene in Bellini’s Norma where Joan Sutherland is wandering around like an Easter Island statue, hacking away at bits of shrubbery with a tiny scythe. Except Teresa wasn’t sporting a Trojan helmet do, plunging kaftan or breaking tumblers with her high-C’s. And Ugo barely resembled Marilyn Horne at all, except for the diaphanous sleeves and Himalayan brassiere.
Over subsequent hours, they brewed and sorted, rebrewed and melded, gently coaxing responses from a congregation culled largely from Table on Ten regulars. If it felt like weird science veined with occult ritual – and if the stakes felt bladder-achingly high – it was for good reason. What we were alchemizing here – in this blousy corner of Delaware County on an innocuous Sunday morning – was no less than the inaugural Irving Farm/Table on Ten coffee blend. The actual exclusive dark material we would be offering in our own name through the months ahead. Its own unique taste profile, its own provenance, its own name: each the result of arcane voting rites, culminating in puffs of white smoke emanating from the pizza-oven chimney.
A3. North, Farm-muscled, Wet. Commando-crafted by friends on a bright autumn morning in Bloomville, with winter on the horizon. Just like the label says. 50% dark roast from Cooperativa Cafetelera Capucas, in the Copan region of Honduras; tropical, sweet, delicate. 50% lighter roast from Guadalupe in the Ahuachapan region, El Salvador; sweet, milk chocolate, smooth. Both small producers, committed to sustainability and excellent husbandry. Until climate change brings bananas to Bloomville, this is the closest we can get to a parallel expression of our principles of being local and staying small.
It’s here. It’s in the grinder (tuned to glittering perfection by Bill McAllister). It’s in the regular house coffee and the espresso. It’s in bags on the shelves to take home or give to friends. It’s at Good Cheap Food and (by increments) select locations further afield. We’re honoured (and still slightly taken aback) that Irving Farm chose us for this collaboration. It’s a huge deal for us. The kind of external affirmation it’s impossible for us to generate by ourselves, no matter how fervently the mouse endeavours to roar. We’re intensely proud and grateful.
Next up: Table on Ten gets its own illuminated blimp …