First Published - March 4, 2010
This week we officially launch our new espresso blend “Rogue”. Gestation started back in June 09 when Andrew Tolly at Taylor St Baristas came to us with his desire to create an espresso that would continuously challenge his baristas so they could hone their skills discovering new and different flavours in the espresso blend they use in their shops every day.
With Andrew, Jeremy and Vic, we started with our palette of single origin coffees. We needed to understand the flavours each produces in espresso shots and then with the influence of steamed milk and make adaptations in the roasts to define and refine the nuances. Over the coming months, stealing time where we could, we began putting the coffees together.
In some sessions, after extensive espresso tastings our brains were scrambled and couldn’t speak in complete sentences from the effects of caffeine—it’s a wonderful feeling.
Then through the week, texting and emailing our tasting notes … “I’m getting lots of cocoa, big body, a hint of wineyness…..- works very well in milk: is smooth, rich and chocolatey.”
By November we felt we we’re getting close so we sent out “No Name” to get feedback from friends.
“I was dialled in on the grinder from the word go, and every single shot has been coming through beautifully rich. I’ve only tried it as a flat white so far (my staple diet), and it pushes all the right buttons -lots of body and sweetness, pleasing fruity high notes……. So I think my machine must be well-matched temperature-wise
My tasting headline – ‘Apricot and cinnamon crumble’.
After a few more tweaks—”can there be too much blueberry?” We introduced “No Name” into Taylor Street Baristas shops for a soft outing. We got some great comments and we’ve worked to get more familiar with the roast style over the last few weeks. As roasters, our philosophy is to introduce some of our personality into the coffee; those roast notes of caramel, chocolate & cocoa: it’s what defines us and contributes more to the intrinsic and complex fruited & floral notes from the bean.
So now we can introduce Rogue: by name and by nature.
An espresso blend designed to change. We believe that Rogue takes an original approach as it is not a traditional ‘seasonal’ espresso, nor do we intend it to be conventional in concept either.
It is a little bit roguish. It doesn’t aim to mute flavours so that we can maintain a consistent flavour profile. It is designed to change in order to highlight and promote coffees that are in their prime and to showcase the diversity of coffee.
The coffees we use to create Rogue will centre on those exclusive to Union. These coffees are special, unique, and exceptional and a direct result of a trading model that is focussed on quality, but benefits everyone in the supply chain.
Experienced Baristas like the ideas of seasonality, new flavours, knowing about the farmers and about the coffee processing techniques. It has to be real and it’s a natural evolution for anyone who is becoming more interested in coffee.
This is part of the concept behind Rogue espresso. It is a little unconventional in that it is not just a blend focused around 3-4 flavours and designed to be constant throughout the year. It is a blend that has a distinctive character now, layered and complex but perhaps dominated by the new crop Gashonga that is really outstanding at the moment. This is going to change in a month or so as new-crop Lambari from Brazil and tge latest organic Sumatra Gajah arrive. If they work well in the blend or are particularly exciting we’ll adjust the blend, if not, we’ll add something new and explore a different flavor route. The blend will change as the new crop coffee harvests move from the northern to southern hemispheres, and not according to our Autumn Winter Spring & Summer.
Rogue is currently composed of four origin coffees, two different processes from Lambari farm, Brazil, our Harar, Gashonga from Rwanda and Gajah Organic Mountain from Sumatra. These have been selected, not just for their flawless quality, but also to reflect quite different and individual flavour notes that also harmonise. We have spent the last 8 years working directly with small farmers and this work is showing dividends in the form of outstanding and vibrant coffees.
But, even the best coffees in the world—on a journey from origin to the cup—can be ruined at the hands of a poorly trained barista. Extracting the best flavours by manipulating coffee and water volumes, pressure, temperature and time is a treacherous craft that only skilled and knowledgeable hands can consistently do well. A skilled barista needs to identify the desired flavours and manipulate all these variables to bring these out. This metaphorical ‘graphic equalizer’ of flavour will not be set to the accepted equilibrium—muting the flavour notes as they change over time. In the shops, it will be enhanced by the Taylor St Baristas, who can create different flavours by adjusting shots to allow each of the coffee origins to sing its arrival. The collaboration with Taylor St developing this blend has benefited from their passion and dedication to getting the most from our coffees.
Does coffee have a gender? We want Rogue to change ‘her voice’ over time, yet still keep her soul; it will take a skillful barista to get to know her personality and then the delight as her character changes. I hope you like her.
Flavour notes: Intense almond and fruited aroma, fragrant with winey floral notes, the espresso shot gives an overlaying of marzipan, plum with a cocoa finish and lingering creamy body
Rogue is roasted every Friday, sleeps through the weekend gaining vigour, and dance into the new week.