Pedro (our cast-iron roaster) micro-roasted a 10kg batch of a new espresso this week, destined for some serious coffee and surfing fans in Polzeath. For our ‘design for life’ espresso project we were set a goal to design an espresso that best represents ‘time spent in the tube’ using only high-quality traceable arabica beans. We started by returning to origin to see whether a single-estate bean might fit the bill, and whilst we tasted some great examples we came to the conclusion that combining these in a blend would better achieve our taste goal: an espresso with clean, crisp and bright acidity balanced by a mellow sweetness. It had to be “mellow”, surfer dudes wouldn’t accept anything less (or more). The outcome is an espresso that takes a bit of practice to knock on the head each time, but one that delivers a great taste experience when perfected – with or without milk.
Selecting our three-bean mix wasn’t too difficult, given our familiarity with the characteristics of each and what they can therefore contribute to a blend. A decent back-bone and smoothness comes from Sumatra Lintong, which also adds a touch of syrupy fruitiness. Fazenda Palmital beans from the Cabo Verde district of Brazil give a marzipan sweetness thanks to the Catuai and Mundo Nova arabica varietals with a mix of natural and wet processing. A good amount of fully washed Tanzanian peaberry (Ngoro Ngoro crater highlands) completes the blend and provides the citrus fruit acidity to cut through milk. The roasting profile turned out to be the deal-breaker and, perhaps surprisingly, pre-blending was found to be the best approach to achieve the most even roast and balanced taste. Too light a roast (just after first crack) gave an espresso with fabulous acidity but a bit too much for some, and the sweetness wasn’t, well…. “mellow” enough. Compared with Lusty Glaze espresso the acidity was off the scale! By roasting the beans to a mid-point between first and second crack using a reduced heat input the mellow sweetness develops in the Fazenda Palmital beans and the acidity drops slightly to a level that gives a perfect balance.
The roast profile has been coined the Polzeath Roast as it sounds a lot better than ‘city’, ‘light french’, or whatever else you might call it! And it’s also the only place you can drink it at the moment. We’ll be adding this as an alternative style of espresso to our Lusty Glaze in a few weeks, but if you’re impatient head over to Polzeath for time in the tube and you might find some!