'What if you took a wine approach to blending? Two or three high grade varietals blended together for something even more complex. Instead of putting together inferior parts, use components that were great as separate pieces.' From a 2006 barismo blog excerpt.
Our espresso philosophy since the beginning (even before we roasted) was that transparency matters. Knowing is identity and that's a big part of our philosophy. We tell you everything that's in each espresso down to the percentage. Limiting the amount of coffees blended to mostly pairs and using more expressive coffees has been a big part of our program. The following is an excerpt from one of our espresso back labels that states it best:
The Case for Transparency in Espresso Labels
Ingredients are where quality starts. What goes into an espresso is the preface to quality of roast, freshness of brew, or all of that fancy gear. Knowing what components build an espresso is the most powerful variable in that it develops a sense of awareness for your own personal preferences to the specific ingredients. Knowing what you like and do not like is easier when the components are listed on the bags. Having a sense of what those farms or origins taste like together retains some identity of the unique components. Identity is important for farms when leveraging better prices paid for coffees.
Historically, roasters have created espresso blends by mixing in agey or past crop coffees, lower grade coffees, and softer or low grown coffees. Knowing the contents is a powerful instrument in judging the value of an espresso. Some roasters are reluctant to give up prized recipes for their espresso blends, but the more progressive roasters should be proud of their components and those unique ingredients.