company - education - coffee

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The utility blend

I never believed as a barista that you could really have a great espresso that was good as a shot and in copious amounts of milk. To expect this feeling to change when I started roasting would be a bit presumptuous.

At one point or another, I have worked with many different espresso blends. There were those that made good shots, others made acceptable shots and good short milk drinks, still others only seemed geared at cutting through a 16oz latte.

It has been my feeling that espresso should be purposeful not utilitarian. Roast for purpose. If we are roasting our estate coffees and refining them each for specific brew methods, why wouldn't the same apply for espresso?

To that end, the L St. is a straight shot. It never occurred to me to work with it in milk. The current version is coming out really nice as a straight shot but all the complexity and sweetness is lost in a lot of milk. It just isn't tested in milk and I wouldn't take offense if someone didn't like it in milk.

We have done more milk geared espresso before. Rudiments being one, which also briefly doubled as 'You're beautiful'. It's just a matter of a good match.

The reason this is worth posting is not a defense or even about an explanation. It occurs to me that all too often we approach coffee from the lowest common denominator. We, the professionals, ask ourselves how it will taste in milk with sugar instead of simply asking ourselves, does it taste good. Well, does it?

Maybe the reason people put condiments in coffee is habitual. Maybe, though, it is because so many coffees are served with the thought that it will have condiments added to it. I guess if we focus on 16oz lattes that the espresso can cut through, the cappuccinos may be a bit rough or the straight shot a bit too strong. I think as a roaster and former barista, the truth is you can only focus on one portion of the coffee drinking market segment, so choose carefully. Trying to beat Dunkin or Sbux at their own game is a bit foolish when there are so many progressive shops moving into the market that do something completely different and are making bank. Something for the pros to chew on.

Happy Thanksgiving.

It's cold. We will be closed during the holiday and reopen Saturday.