We often forget that coffee is a natural product!
It sounds trivial when said like that, but this involves putting all the roaster’s skills into action to enable all of us to always drink a near “perfect” cup.
The beans are the seeds of the cherries that grow on the coffee plant, which grows only in the tropical belt because it suffers from both cold and excessive heat, and also needs constant temperatures throughout the year.
Exactly like any other fruit they all undergo climate change.
In fact, if it rains more in one year and the soil is always very wet, the cherry, and therefore the grains, will have certain characteristics; if, on the other hand, a year is very dry, they will have others; if a year is colder or hotter, the grains will be different from the previous year; and finally, if the plant gets sick, the harvest will definitely be lower in quantity and quality.
So coffee is not a constant product over time.
This is where the skills of the roaster come into play, who must first be able to carefully select each coffee and then to process it as best he can to extract every positive note, and finally to recognize flaws in order to modify the blend and “adjust” the taste.
In fact, the first skill of a roaster, in our case Paolo, Ernani’s head roaster, is to know how to select raw coffees.
Paul periodically requests green coffee samples from raw coffee suppliers, who send us dozens and dozens of different types of coffees to test in order to recognize their merits and flaws, categorize them, and select only the best and most suitable for our blends.
From this you can understand that we do not always offer you, year after year, the exact same coffee, the same blend, the same single-origin, but we operate a continuous research of the raw material to always maintain the best possible quality.
This argument is easier for single-origin arabica, in that if the next year that coffee no longer satisfies us in terms of quality and taste, we will simply offer you a different coffee from a different plantation.
This becomes more complicated if we talk about mixtures.
In fact, blends are made by combining several coffees in different percentages, forming a specific recipe. Coffees most often come from different plantations, states and continents, which give different characteristics in the cup, well weighted between acidity, sweetness, bitterness, creaminess, full-bodiedness and aromatic notes.
If a coffee present within the blend no longer gives the expected results one must go and replace it with one that has similar organoleptic characteristics.
Here is an example to make it very clear.
Our Allegro blend consists of:
three quality Arabica coffees: Colombia Finca la Meseta, Brazilian Santos Cerrado Bom chocolate, and Indian Kalledevarapura Estate pulped sun-dried;
and two robusta quality coffees-Tanzania and Congo.
Kalledevarapura has been our companion for a long time, because it has always proven to be a very consistent coffee of the highest quality, bringing complex and intriguing aromas to the cup.
The latest samples from this year’s harvest, however, did not meet our quality standards.
So now we are at the stage of selecting a new coffee suitable to fill the role of Kalle, a fresh and fruity coffee with pleasant and slight acidity, absent bitterness, velvety and creamy, with notes from time to time of fresh fruit, citrus, vanilla and tobacco.
This constant research work, however, does not apply to all roasters!
Unfortunately, many roasters do not select new single-origins to replace those with defects. They simply go to balance the defects found in one origin by reducing the amounts used or covering them with the other coffees already in the blend.