Sunday, May 13, 2012

To Blend, or Not to Blend, That is the Question

If Chazzano Coffee roasts over 30 different single origin coffees every day, why create blends? 

We're running out of coffee, let's try to look like geniuses: The main reason for creating blends is that we are always selling out of our most popular coffees while we wait for the next 2000lb. shipment of beans. We then scramble to find a suitable blend that is well balanced and similar to the missing single origin coffee. There are many wonderful examples of blends developed under duress: Tres Arias Blend, Domani Blend, Frank's Blend #2, Frank's Blend #3, Frank's Blend #4, (we don't talk about Frank's Blend #1...), Lecca Lecca Limone, Lisa Lisa, Mighty Mint Blend.

Crazy Curiosity: The biggest reason is we are insatiably curious. We love coming up with new blends that have a completely different flavor profile. Our newest blend, the Domani Blend, was invented because we had a few minutes in between busy times to treat the cafe like a Coffee Lab. Some wonderful examples of keeping ourselves out of trouble: Jen's Blend, Winter Blend, Klaire Bear's Tropical Summer Blend, Rob's Espresso Blend, Theresa's Blend, Rachel's Wedding Blend, The Lunch Cafe Blend, the original Chazzano Espresso Blend.

My Wife has a Bad Husband: Another reason for creating a new blend is that my wife and I (and our children) used to live in Farmington Hills.  I spent all day at the cafe drinking coffee and would always forget to bring home fresh roasted coffee. Therefore, my wife would suffer with 3-4 week old coffee. In order to make it a bit palatable, she would blend different coffees and thankfully, remember what she blended. In this way, Creamy Dreamy and P-Jam were created.

Happy Accidents: Finally, the last reason for creating a new blend is what I call, the happy accident. With the happy accident, I forget that there are beans already ready in the hopper and then I drop in another unrelated bean. I cuss loudly only to myself, send out a primal scream to the universe, and then I dump the beans and hope that I'm more genius than dope. 

Daddy, are they serious?

I'm just going to say it. Coffee should not be sold 3 weeks after the roast date. The complex aromatics just do not exist anymore after 3 weeks. We donate our 3 week old coffee to homeless shelters and low income housing. How old is the coffee that you drink? When you peruse the coffee aisle in the supermarket, does it have a date roasted? It probably has a date by which you should consume it. The good news is that 5 year old coffee will not poison you. The bad news is that with all of the fresh ingredients and food available to us now, why would you want to drink bitter and stale coffee? When I walk through the coffee aisle, anywhere, my son asks, "Daddy, are they serious?" He's looking at the date on the coffee bag that is often 6 months to a year from the moment we are reading the label.  And there's no way to know how long it took to get the coffee from the roaster to the store.

There is no way, yet, to stop the quick death of the coffee fragrance/aroma. Vacuum packed and nitrogen flushing are  really cool to hear, but they just don't keep the coffee fresh enough.

Recently, we swapped out brand new coffee at a few Plum Markets because they were over 3 weeks old. That evening, we had a large catering job and I was hoping that I was wrong and just crazy. I tasted 3.5 week old Nicaragua Jinotega and the same cofffee that was just 2 days old. The contest wasn't even close. The 3.5 week old Nicaragua had no taste. Sometimes, I wish that the coffee that some restaurants serve would come close to the old Nicaragua, but alas, I cannot sell old coffee. The old coffee that I took off the shelves was ground and donated to various shelters around the Metro Detroit Area.

Chazzano Coffee is sold at Plum Markets in Bloomfield, West Bloomfield, and Ann Arbor, at Whole Foods Market Troy, Western Market in Ferndale, and One Stop Kosher in Southfield. Buy it often, and buy it fresh.