Royal Coffee has been sourcing, buying, and selling green coffee since 1978. During that time, our focus has always been on showcasing the best single origins we can. While single origins are an integral part of the supply chain, it overlooks something roasters have been asking for: year-round consistent blends. While we have built varying blends over the years such as the Meritage Blend & Red Sea Blend, we are excited to introduce something entirely new. We are proud to announce our newest blend, 78 Espresso Blend, 100 lbs. of pre-blended ready-to-roast green coffee packed in GrainPro.
78 Espresso Blend isn’t just another Arabica blend. We built 78 Espresso Blend from the ground up as an homage to straightforward espresso blends ingrained in our sensory memory banks. A classic espresso needs a name to remind us of where we came from. This espresso blend comes to you with everything we’ve built since opening our doors in 1978.
In a previous article, I outlined some of the motivations and best practices around blend creation. In this article, I’d like to detail how we went about creating 78 Espresso Blend, and what sort of thought goes into making a classic blend like this.
As you might imagine, we are able to approach blend building from an unusual position, since we warehouse large amounts of green coffee. With the inception of The Crown team came an ability to workshop a blend through even more levels of quality control. (For loyal readers of our blog, the Crown team’s Crown Analyses have provided starting points to understand a coffee offering prior to roasting and tasting. Each Crown Analysis includes transparent information on how these coffees behave both singularly and interactively. Alongside our already well-established green procurement and logistics practices, we are now able to offer insight on all fronts including roasting, production-stage quality control, and brewing.)
From the outset, 78 Espresso Blend was intended for the fans of classic espresso profiles. (Nostalgic espressi of yesteryear danced in our mind like sugar plum fairies, only with more heavy chocolate and a touch of rustic baker’s spice.) In terms of the blend’s character, our goal was to put together a chocolaty blend that stood up well to milk, and performed just as well on its lonesome. It wouldn’t have been wise of us to restrict our green coffee choices to specific origins, especially given all the coffee we have at our disposal as an importer and warehouser of green coffees, so we focused our attention on the desired flavor profile – a heavy, classic espresso – instead.
To that effect, we tasted a good many coffees as possible blend components. Light and bright Africans (for example, a washed Yirgacheffe) didn’t fit the bill for this blend, but clean and sweet Central American coffees (e.g. Mexico, El Salvador) worked well, adding body and caramelized sugars. Instead of immediately determining that we needed this blend to be Brazil-based, we tasted through many test blends and decided on the one with the most pleasing flavor profile, which happened to be a mix of those clean and hefty Central American coffees for sweetness, along with deep chocolaty and fruity coffees from East Africa for body and a little extra verve. Foremost in our effort was consistency of flavor profile, and the suitability of each component in the blend. Equally important was selecting components with well-defined contributions to the final profile – this would allow us to easily target and replace coffees as they come and go with the season.
The first step in our process was to taste these coffees individually. Some coffees fit quite well for the flavor profile, but some were ruled out due to price. Deciding the percentages of each component was a matter of taste, and calculating a price average could only be done once this subjective measure was finished. The selected coffees were roasted to profile and blended in various percentages. Tasting the resulting post-roast blend as espresso at different extraction parameters allowed us to hone on a set of percentages we enjoyed; we then blended the green coffee before roasting, as we knew this was how the coffee would be sold in its final state. Then we repeated the process of tasting both on the cupping table and in the espresso machine, this time focusing on roast parameters. It was important for us to craft a blend that was flexible and delicious across multiple roast levels.
We would be remiss not to mention cost averaging and price point, especially for an espresso blend. These issues are always a concern when building a blend, 78 Espresso Blend was no exception. While we couldn’t rationalize having the ‘Unicorn Tears Blend’ I mentioned in my previous article (since nobody would be interested in a super high price point blend as an everyday espresso), so we settled on a ‘Goldilocks Blend’ instead – working with coffees that fit our intended flavor profiles but didn’t break the bank. Additional costs that would go into making the final product included warehousing, physical blending of the components, repackaging costs, and transportation.
One aspect of making a new product is package design. This is the last thing a roaster sees before the coffee goes into the hopper, and we wanted it to be representative of the classic feel of this blend. With the input of my coworkers, I made a design for a 100-lb burlap bag. After many revisions and lots of finessing, we came up with the final logo and it was sent to be made into a one-color plate at Hubco, Inc. Hubco’s expertise, great turnaround time, and supportive service were instrumental in polishing the final touches of our blend.
Though the coffee is now completely packaged, constant quality control and attentiveness is important for maintaining the integrity of the blend as well. As an agricultural product, coffee requires our constant attention. Individual components can and will change over time, losing freshness and eventually succumbing to faded flavors. With attentive sourcing and ordering, components ought to run out at the same time – but overages and underages happen, and not all origins are available throughout the year. Substitutions become necessary, and although change can sometimes be frightening, substituting an El Salvador for a Brazil is sometimes a fact of life. In fact, midway through our blend building process, one of our components was in such high demand that we needed to replace it with something comparable, without compromising the integrity of the flavor profile. While initially frustrating, the necessary change resulted in an improvement we were happy to have stumbled upon.
What we hope to provide with 78 Espresso Blend is a preblended, ready-to-roast option for everyday use. We’ve built in a ton of research and development on our end, so that you can focus on roasting, selling, and enjoying your coffee. Check out the charts below for some roast profiles and brewing recommendations we think will help you achieve the most from your experience with what we hope will become a staple in your espresso hopper.
The three roasts above, performed as 800g batches in our 1kg Probatino, outline a few standard approaches that all produced great results, each with minimal gas adjustments. The shortest roast (14:22) also happens to be the lightest, at around a 62 Colortrack, and accented the caramel and dried fruit notes the best. The longest (16:05) roast is the darkest, fully 1 minute into 2nd Crack at a 72 Colortrack, offering incredible heft, persistence of crema, and strong dark chocolate flavors.
Below, you can find some example extractions I was happy with, using our La Marzocco GS3. The coffee performs excellently as an espresso. Straight shots are incredibly chocolaty and display huge buttery body. Diluted in an Americano, 78 Espresso Blend maintains sweetness, and stands up to milk. In a cappuccino or latte, the big chocolate and baker’s spice cuts through milkiness with sweet intensity. This espresso is so smooth, Barry White is blushing.
So when this coffee hits your espresso bar, you know exactly what to look for! 78 Espresso Blend is available immediately; let a trader know you’re interested. And of course, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out.