We don't change our blends, we may add new blends and single origins to our range but we leave the tried and trusted alone. We don't change a blend because once a consumer finds a coffee they love, they don't want it to change, they want it to taste the same every time they brew it. This consistency is even more important from a commercial point of view, as cafes and restaurants spend a lot of time and money developing their coffee set up and changing the taste of their coffee can be detrimental to their customer loyalty.
The morale of the story: Quality is expected and consistency is the key!
It is a lot of fun developing a new blend, we get to spend time tasting lots of different coffees from a variety of origins - some fabulous, some not so.
Creating the recipe is the first step, this involves tasting or cupping as it is known in the coffee industry, working out what percentage of each coffee works best, what roast-levels to profile and what blending techniques to use. With a little trial-and-error we finally reach a taste we agree on.
When choosing the beans, we need to take into consideration what will be readily available. Coffee is an agricultural product that's grown in mostly politically unstable countries, so as well as taste, there's many other factors that need assessing such as the practices of the estate, accessibility to the country and region of origin.
Micro lots and specialty single origins are best developed as limited edition coffees because these coffees may not be available again.
When sourcing beans, roasting and blending for a new blend we draw on our judging experience and take a similar approach to the Royal Agriculture Society of NSW Coffee judging tasting process. Here are the taste descriptors we use that are taken from RAS Coffee Competition:
Sweet: a fundamental taste, perceived primarily by the tip of the tongue. Found in fresh new crop coffees. A light, soft, ripe fruit character, "sweet" sometimes occurs in the direction of over fermented.
Positive Acidity: acidity is a pleasant sour sensation perceived primarily on the posterior sides of the tongue. "Positive acidity" is acidity in balance with the overall strength and flavour of the espresso. High acidity in espresso produces a sharp and rasping/puckering sensation in the mouth and can be perceived negatively by the consumer. Low acidity produces espresso without life.
Mouth feeling: a combination of the strength, fullness/body, and taste volume of the espresso. The impact on the mouth of the physical properties of the espresso perceived during and after ingestion.
Positive Bitterness: bitterness is one of the four basic taste sensations. Bitterness is perceived by the papillae at the back of the tongue and is considered desirable up to a certain level. Bitterness is affected by roasting degree and by brewing procedures. Positive bitterness is bitterness that is not excessive or dominating of the other characteristics of the coffee.
Balanced/Round: a balanced coffee is one that displays all positive attributes at the right level without any negative aspects or flavour faults dominating.
After taste: a coffee with a long after taste is deemed to be desirable. After-taste is the sensation of flavour that remains in the mouth after consuming or tasting the coffee. It should be coffee like and contain no off flavours or undesirable negative characteristics.
I should mention that La Casa staff are regular judges at the Sydney Royal Fine Food Show (RAS) coffee competition. The Sydney Royal Fine Food show coffee competition receives hundreds of entries in a number of categories - espresso, plunger, latte, blend, single origin and Australian single origin. The main judging criteria are: aroma, flavour, acidity, body, aftertaste, balance and each panel consists of at least 4 judges.
The most important taste test is whether our customers like it or not and everyone is different which is why we offer a range:
Blends: la Casa, Tazza Dóro, Italian, French Roast, Colombian, Seasonal Organics 3 Bean,
Single Origins: Café Orgánico Marcala Honduras, Finca Kassandra Estate Mexico, and we offer limited editions from time to time