For a coffee company, creating a new blend is rare treat. Not as rare as pitching a perfect game in baseball, but at least as rare as those years where Christmas falls on a Thursday and you get a 5 day weekend out of it.…
With so much of the focus in specialty coffee on single-origins and espressos, drip blends have become a bit of an ugly duckling. And that’s a shame.
If you look at the entire coffee drinking market, blends will make up a disproportionately high number of coffee bought and sold but get little of the attention – they just aren’t as sexy. As coffee snobs, we talk mostly about single-origins: they allow us more opportunity to discuss the producers, the terroir of a farm, all of the interesting things that go into what makes a coffee special, and they implicitly encourage more transparency. So for all of those reasons, single-origins will always have my love too. But blends certainly have their place.
When creating a blend, we typically would work to a flavour profile and focus on consistently delivering on that profile all-year-round. That allows for a level of flexibility that single-origins simply cannot offer. If a single-origin isn’t tasting as it’s meant to in a given year, or throughout a year as it ages, the only variable we as roasters can affect is the roast profile itself. Or, we just won’t be able to buy it.
With blends however, because we aren’t married to anything but the flavours in the cup, we can make all kinds of adjustments to make the coffee taste exactly how we want it, including: number of different beans, component percentages, roast profile, and of course, the coffees themselves.
All of that tweaking is done for the sake of consistency, which is what most blend drinkers are really after. If you want different flavours, switch from a washed Guatemalan coffee to a natural Ethiopia to a honey-processed Costa Rica and you will likely experience a wide spectrum of flavors and sensations. If you want a coffee that tastes the same, day in and day out, then a blend is what you’re looking for.
And all of this is a lead into our news… a new blend is coming to a cup near you, very, very soon.
In our efforts to source incredible coffees from around the world for our Small Lot program, we’ve been working with more and more farmers every year. Their segregated, exclusive lots, range of varietals and processing experiments are the basis for the Small Lot line up. Unsurprisingly, the main lots from their farms had to be fantastic as well. So while tasting those coffees, we started buying – knowing we had an opportunity to create something special in the form of a new blend… And we’re calling it FLAGSHIP.
A ‘flagship’ is defined as the tallest and proudest ship in a fleet… so we designed this blend to reflect that status in our line-up of coffees. It’s simply the best blend we could ever seek to create, because we are putting coffees into it that normally would be reserved for consumption as single-origins. We are going to start out with a bang, blending coffees from central Kenya and El Salvador’s Finca El Majahual.
The flavor profile of Flagship will always be sweet and well balanced, but beyond that the nuances and notes will be completely represented by whatever coffees are the most seasonally fresh and impressive. Unlike most blends you’ve ever tasted, which are combined and roasted together, we treat each coffee individually and develop roast profiles for them, not just as individual coffees but so that they will also work harmoniously in Flagship.
It would be hard to overstate how excited we are to launch Flagship – we haven’t worked on a new blend like this in years, and with the whole coffee team involved in the process, we are enjoying every second of it. In the future, we’ve got coffees from Tanzania, Costa Rica, Guatemala and Ethiopia already lined for future iterations of the blend. So we won’t be dogmatic about what goes into Flagship, but the results in the cup will always be the best coffee we can possibly produce.