Espresso Blend Profile & Design

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Hey friends, Lauren here at Mil City Roasters. Today, I wanted to share a little bit of information about one of our espresso blends. This espresso blend is available for purchase online on our greens coffee page. However, it also plays a crucial role in our roasting program and our classes. Most of our customers who order roasted coffee from us will order this blend and brand it on their own for their cafe or roasting business. They'll call it whatever they want. In classes, it's an opportunity for our students to work with a pre-blend and learn about espresso profiling.

First, let me explain what an espresso blend is. Espresso blends or espresso coffee is anything that we think tastes good on the espresso bar. It's not a specific type of coffee, and it's not a specific roasting style. When you put the word espresso on something, you're just saying that when you pull a shot of it as an espresso, it tastes great. When we're thinking about building an espresso blend, the first thing we consider is flavor balance. Espresso is going to be the base ingredient that goes on most of your cafe's menu. Think about your customer who orders a straight shot of espresso, an Americano, a cappuccino, or a flavored drink like a mocha. They're all getting the same espresso, so that espresso has to appeal to a wide audience and be strong enough to pair with and cut through other flavors. Espresso, in general, should also be easy to extract.

Now, let's talk about the components of what we use to build this blend. The main component, and this is true for most blends that you'll encounter from many other roasters, is a coffee from Brazil. Brazil is a great blender because it's fairly affordable and available almost all year round. It has a nice general profile - it's a coffee-flavored coffee. So, it gives you that nice base foundation that you can build on. The next coffee that we use is currently from Guatemala, but at other times of the year, this component will swap out and be a Peru for the blend. This coffee provides sweetness, chocolate flavors, and caramelized notes. Finally, we use something for a little pop of acidity, and in our case, that's a washed Ethiopia from the Yirg region. In the blend, it provides red fruit flavor like a ripe cherry. Together, we say that our espresso blend tastes like chocolate, caramel, and red fruit, and that's true all year, no matter what the components are. So, for our customers who order this coffee, the price and the flavor descriptors stay the same. It's something that's really consistent that they can count on.

When we roast this for customers, they can call it whatever they want, and that's part of building their own brand identity. When we sell it as a retail coffee, we call it Lucky Cat Espresso. When we're thinking about profiling this coffee on the roaster, the one thing that we focus on when we approach espresso blends is roasting it a little slower and a little longer. Focusing on spending a little bit more time in the drum allows for a better opportunity for extraction at the espresso machine. Think about how fast it takes to pull a shot of espresso - 25, maybe 35 seconds. So, you want to make sure that all your flavors are super soluble and really accessible by that extraction, and spending a little bit more time in the drum helps with that.

In a moment, I'm going to show you how we pull the espresso and talk about the flavors on the bar. When I'm dialing in an espresso, I'm looking for a recipe that is easy, consistent, and super simple to work with. No one wants to throw away a shot in the middle of a busy rush because you're half a gram over or under. For our blend, I tend to prefer a dose of around 18 grams. That's what I have here, and I like for it to extract in between 25 and 27 seconds. I'm looking for about 40 or 42 grams out, and that's enough to fill about a 2 oz shot glass. For today, I'm going to split it into what's called a one-in-one. That means I'm going to taste one shot as a straight espresso and one as a macchiato. This is a helpful tip for when you're dialing in so that you can see how a coffee is tasting on its own and with milk.

Just like a great espresso should, it took a few seconds just to start dropping after I engaged the pump. Here it started really dark brown and a really thin stream. It's speeding up now, kind of going blonde. That stream is getting bigger, and right when it starts to wiggle, that's when I know I'm done - 27 seconds on the timer. I'm going to steam some milk real quick. Just a little bit and just a little single shot macchiato to show me how the coffee is pairing with milk and how those customers who are getting lattes and cappuccinos are going to experience it.

Let's taste this coffee on its own. Perfect. In the espresso shot, I get sort of semi-sweet chocolate chips and a nice tart cherry. It's lively, medium-weight, super drinkable, and has a very sweet finish. In the macchiato, those semi-sweet chocolate chips turn into full milk chocolate. It's like hot cocoa with still a little bit of red fruit that provides that acidity that helps kind of carry through the bitterness and the sweetness of the shot. This is a great blend to work with. It's super forgiving, really easy to dial in if it's roasted, like I said earlier, kind of slow and low, and it's just a really nice coffee to explore if you're new to pre-blends or working with blending in general. Try it out. Let us know what you think. I hope you enjoy it. Thanks so much.


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