The vast majority of espresso is brewed from a blend of coffees from different origins. Single-origin espresso (or SOS - single origin shot) is gaining popularity, but I feel it is more of an intellectual culinary pursuit and not best practice for an ideal espresso. So how does one create an espresso blend? First you need an idea for what you want the blend to be. Do you want it dark roasted with a carbony bite, or medium roasted with more of a caramel-coffee flavor? How thick of a mouthfeel? how acidic? how much caffeine? what flavors? fruity? spicy? floral? chocolaty? nutty? bakers chocolate with blueberry and jasmine? Once the ideal is formed, start with low-acid South or Central American coffees for a non-overbearing base with good body and sweetness.

   The coffees you select next will be a combination of coffees that bring you as close to your ideal as possible, but be wary because most coffees will contribute something positive and negative to the blend, the blender needs to minimize the negatives and maximize the positives. Generally speaking one can use some Central American coffees to increase acidity and add specific flavors, use some African coffees for complexity, brightness and to add specific flavors, use some Indonesian coffees to increase richness and body and to add specific flavors, and use Robusta coffees to increase crema stability and caffeine content. Next, Cup (taste-test) possible coffees to decide on which specific origins to use. Then mix those origins together at different ratios to decide of what proportion of each coffee to use in the blend. The coffees should be roasted individually to their peak and then mixed together in the determined proportions (not blended then roasted). Finally, make some espresso with your new blend, made any needed minor adjustments needed, make some espresso with your new blend, and enjoy.

  Oh boy, I'm a happy little green coffee bean lying in this big burlap sack with all my green coffee bean friends. Whoa! That was quite a roller-coaster ride, now I'm in a big, hot, rotating drum. Gee, it sure is nice and toasty in here, I'm just gonna soak up this heat and dry out. I'd say its about 205 degrees F in here and we are all popping off our thin outer skin and are about double our original size! I'm light brown now and seem to weight about 5% less then when I was dumped in here. Just tumbling around and getting hotter now. Its about 220 in here and I'm about 13% lighter; some of us are starting to pop again and give back off some of this energy. Whoa! There I go! Jeepers, I popped and got to give off some heat again, and now I'm a beautiful medium-dark brown and some of my oils are just starting to come to the surface to give me a pretty shine. Whoa! We were all just dumped into a big cool bin where we are being stirred around and cooling down. The sight and smell of this makes me wish I had no moral objection to cannibalism.

If you visit us on Wednesday evenings while the coffee roaster is roasting away, you may notice some points in the roast when the coffee beans start to crack and pop and sound like popcorn. Coffee can generally undergo 2 distinct cracks which provide the roastmaster with critical information of where the beans are in their development. The first crack is long and gradual and occurs when the coffee is at a very light roast. Coffee that has not had its first crack is not fit for consumption, its much to light. After you pass the light roasts and medium roast and start into a medium-dark roast, a more rapid crack occurs. This second crack indicates that the majority of the sugars in the coffee beans have caramelized and are now starting to carbonize (turn to ash). At the second crack, the coffee oils that were once in the bean are driven to the surface and the beans appear oily. The cracks also indicate points in the roast when the beans are undergoing an exothermic reaction (giving off energy) as opposed to just the endothermic reactions occurring at other times in the roast where the beans are absorbing energy.

That the coffee has been roasted recently, though “recently” being defined by the company selling the coffee. Muggswigz defines fresh as 10 days or less out of the roaster and labels each bag of coffee with its roast date.