Our principle, like many coffee roasters, is to change the components of our espresso blend every three to four months. We do this to make the most of the recently harvested coffees which are arriving in the UK. We’re currently on our fourth espresso blend but with only around a month’s worth of green beans left, we’re now thinking about the components of our next blend.
The first stage is to determine which coffees are available to us. Late harvest Brazils are coming into the UK, along with coffees from most of the Central American countries. We can also look at Kenya and Ethiopia.
The next stage is to request samples of the coffees we’re interested in. For me it’s one of the best parts of the job – eagerly awaiting the samples to arrive and then impatient to start tasting them all.
We’ll taste the coffees by cupping them at least twice. Through the cupping we’re trying to gain an idea of the character of the coffee – we’re considering aspects such as sweetness, acidity, body and flavour. Armed with this knowledge we can start discussing which coffees might work well together. So coffees with a lot of acidity might not complement each other; a coffee with a good mouthfeel can complement a lighter coffee; I like to look for coffees with a lingering finish.
We’ll consider how many coffees to use in a blend. We don’t like using too many to ensure the individual characteristics of the beans we use still shine through. Often we’ll work on two beans but we might also use three depending on what is available at the time.
We also cup the coffees with our wholesale customers. It’s interesting to see how they respond to the coffees, particularly the ones we’ve spotted as potential components. Using changing blends is a relatively new concept in Cumbria and working this closely with our customers helps them build their knowledge and confidence.
At the time of writing we’ve cupped a wide range of coffees both on our own and with our customers. We’ve identified a couple of coffees we want to work with and are awaiting some more samples in the hope that we can add a third component to the blend.
You can expect our new espresso blend to be available sometime in July.