Sapsucker Seasonal Espresso
- September 2017
- Written by : Michael Sheridan
Director of Sustainability and Shared Value / Green Coffee Buyer
The Sapsucker is a migratory bird with a sweet tooth.
Whether in its permanent habitats in the Western United States, its summer hideaways across Canada and the Northern United States, or its winter nests in Mexico and Central America, Sapsuckers are programmed to seek sugar. In their single-minded pursuit of sweetness, they drill tap holes in trees whose sap is especially high in sugar content and frequent orchards where they can slurp up the sweet nectar of fresh fruit. It is hard to imagine more fitting spirit animals for members of our cupping team: like the Sapsucker, we chase sweetness and cherish fruit acids in our coffees. Which is what makes assembling our Sapsucker seasonal espresso blend such a labor of love.
The 2017 edition of our Sapsucker blend is made with three of our favorites from the Northern Hemisphere. Since our QC, Roasting and Retail teams have been working with each of these three components for the past few months, we had a pretty good idea of the shortest path to maximum sweetness. We started with a stunning coffee from high-elevation farms in the Gedeo Zone of Ethiopia (1750-2150 m) and rounded out the blend with two more lots from elevations nearly as high: a beautifully articulate Kenyan coffee from the Kiunyu washing station (1500-1800 m), and a coffee from Finca La Maravilla in the dizzying heights of Huehuetenango in Guatemala. In other words, this year’s Sapsucker is a who’s who of high-elevation rock-star coffees.
We set our Retail Education teams in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles and New York to work creating the sweetest coffee they could with these three lots. They subjected the coffees to rigorous sensory testing, evaluating the performance and tasting notes of each one in an effort to find a combinations that achieved the most harmonious triad. Each team sent their best blend recipe to the other teams for peer evaluation.
Our Retail Education teams in every city came together for a long day of discussion about flavor definition, shot structure and sweetness to acid ratio. They judged the coffees, too, of course. After hours of tinkering, dialing in, and evaluation, the Chicago team prevailed with the blend we release today. There is nothing subtle about it. This jammy Sapsucker cranks the sweetness to the max. Within the the confines of this espresso, soft acids and lingering sweetness combine to express notes of blood orange, Concord grape and vanilla.