Saying that single origin coffees cannot make good espressos is like saying all blends make great espressos.
Both sentences are marvellous examples of ludicrous statements. Examples that would serve perfectly in a SLE class, demonstrating the use of the word “lu.di.crous” [loo-di-kruh s].
Now I hear uppity blenddefenders saying, “Now hang on a sec…” To which I reply, “No! There just isn’t time to hang on.” Life is too short for meritless rules of thumb that, despite the best intentions of their coiners, result in the coffee-drinking world missing out on some of the most exciting and mind-expanding sensory experiences.
“a mindset that undermines single origin espressos can only bring atrophy to the specialty coffee industry.”
I am not here to bash the art of blending. There are some truly fantastic espresso blends. What I am here to say is that a mindset that undermines the extraordinary experiences created by single origin espressos can only bring damage and atrophy to the specialty coffee industry.
BUT…because this is such a contentious issue (that greater coffee minds have been discussing since before my mother began mixing shots of espresso in with my baby formula), I will indulge in the joys of metaphor to bring fresh insight to the matter:
Single origin coffees are Spanish tennis players.
History would show that, by and large, Spanish tennis players are only ever any good on clay courts. In fact, the Chilean (read “almost Spanish”) tennis great Marcelo Rios was famously quoted as saying that grass was for “cows and soccer”, not tennis. This attitude goes some way to explaining why so many Spanish players dominate Roland Garros, or the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, but seldom feature in the tennis calendar’s most prestigious event: Wimbledon.
Now if Rafael Nadal had paid any attention to this historical prejudice, he wouldn’t have wasted his time adjusting his technique to play on quicker surfaces. Fortunately for the tennis world, Rafa paid no heed to the weight of history, and is now arguably the greatest player ever.
Tennis Scouts of the Coffee World
At Rosetta Roastery, we’re a little like Spanish tennis scouts. We know it’s possible to genetically engineer a super-athlete espresso blend with the jaw of a Swede (read velvety mouthfeel), biceps of a Nigerian (rounded sweetness), and thighs of a Russian miner (powerful body). What we’d rather do, however, is metaphorically hike through country villages and along mountain paths, finding the hidden talents deserving of global applause.
There are estates and co-ops producing incredible single origin coffees that have all the balance, mouthfeel, body, and sweetness of the finest blends available. They may be harder to find, but the joy of finding such a treasure is what keeps the Rosetta team sampling, roasting, cupping, tasting… and then beginning the search all over again. What we’re after are those single origin coffees so extraordinary that their profile defies anything that any blender could have conceived of.
This man is the weakest link
Any espresso blend has two limiting factors;
1. the quality of the coffee used
2. the imagination of the blender
Single origin espressos hold within them flavour profiles that can surprise and delight the most seasoned of coffee-drinkers. The combination of biology and terroir offers limitless combinations, amongst which lie some real treasures waiting to be discovered. It would just be a shame if these gems were blended away – hidden once more within a “traditional espresso profile” (whatever that means) simply because unthinking general opinion says it should be so.