Blends are interesting.
As a roaster, it is really fun to be able to take a bunch of different coffees and figure out how to fit them together to create a rounded and whole flavor profile. In many cases, or at least here at Boxwood, we tend to work backwards and construct something big from small pieces regarding what we want our final product to become. At the risk of sounding way too pretentious, it's not incredibly unlike an artist looking at a blank canvas or block of untouched wood - we have a vision of what we want the result of our efforts to be but we may not know 100% how it will truly turn out in the end.
When the air started to cool a bit and the grass stopped growing so quickly, we knew that we would need to break out a new seasonal blend in time for fall and to carry us through the holidays. I called up our coffee seller, Brittany at Royal Coffee NY to see what coffees she had that we could utilize for something savory for this year's chilly season. She asked me what we were trying to construct so they could help us find pieces to the puzzle. Now, I'm still kind of a rookie in the professional coffee world, and sometimes I come at things from an angle that isn't as clinical and straightforward as those I'm working with would appreciate. Brittany was asking for tasting notes; specific flavors that could be intertwined together that certain coffees could lend their strengths to. I asked for the finished painting.
I wanted something cozy, something rich, something that would go absolutely perfectly with Mom's pumpkin pie and ice cream at the end of Thanksgiving dinner as the plates were piled high and belts became loose and the air smelled of turkey and stuffing and crescent rolls and cranberry sauce and apple cider. Wasn't that obvious?
Brittany is a patient saint.
She calmed me down from my excitement and got me to focus on what the heck I meant by this extraneous and oddly specific picture that I had in my head. What were the flavors in my head that complimented these other flavors, and more importantly this feeling of comfort and warmth and fullness? What was seasonal and festive and relevant to the weather and all it brings?
Chocolate. Nuts. Dried fruits. Baked goods.
And just like that, we're on our way. We start looking at what coffees we already have in stock, and what Royal could provide us to fill in the gaps. Chocolate and nuts? That El Salvador we use in another blend has milk chocolate and toasted almond notes, I can roast it a bit dark so it can act as a sweet and dense base for the blend. We don't have anything with a dried fruit note, but this awesome Costa Rica just came into the warehouse that tastes like baking chocolate and dried cherries. We add that guy to the shopping list and keep it at a nice medium roast to add a pleasantly sharp cherry chocolate cordial profile to accent the creamy base. Oh, and we have this Congo on reserve that's spicy and earthy. Keeping it light will preserve some zippy baking spice notes and really make the whole blend pop to compliment a good pie crust.
And in one afternoon, we constructed something new and delicious. We made Bed Head. Something perfect for staying warm in body and soul, to wrap you up in it's silky brown sweetness and carry you lazily to that big comfy chair and just take a moment to be still and happy. When we deal with single origins it's really exciting to see where an individual coffee can take you, but when you get to create a blend from the bottom up, you get to plan your own trip.
Hayden Kaye is our Master Roaster and head of the Say Interesting Stuff department.