The story of our Espresso Blend

If you’re a regular at one of our cafes, or if you frequent one of our wholesale accounts, then chances are you’re already familiar with our Espresso Blend. Whether you drink it straight or in a milk-based drink, you’ll know what to expect: deep complexity, pie crust sweetness and a long, well balanced finish. Our roasters, trainers and baristas all strive day in, day out to keep it as consistent and perfectly extracted as possible. It’s our showcase product; the cornerstone of what we do.

The true beginnings of the Espresso Blend story can be traced back to Head Roaster Scott Richardson’s first trip to Italy, as a 13 year old on a family vacation. The Italian espresso bars quickly captured his imagination. Along with the coffee, he was also taken by the culture surrounding it and the strong sense of community that was tied to each neighborhood cafe. These experiences stayed with him into the mid 1990’s, when the espresso revolution was in full swing on this side of the Atlantic. By this time, Scott was a college student, working as a barista in a tiny East Side drive through. It was here that he quickly developed a true passion for coffee culture, and it wasn’t long before he was managing the place and training the staff, before eventually moving on to pursue roasting.

Back in the ‘90’s, direct access to coffee producers was very different. Green coffee was controlled by long established traders and importers and roasters had to take what they could get from importers’ warehouses. In 1996, Scott met Craig Holt of Atlas Importers and began a relationship that continues to this day. Although relationships with several importers already existed, Craig would be the first to help facilitate a direct relationship, by introducing Scott to Emilio Lopez Diaz, the owner of Finca  El Manzano, Finca Ayutepeque and Cuatro M Cafes in El Salvador. With these partnerships in place, Scott would be able to begin solidifying the Espresso Blend.

The first few years were frustrating. It was sometimes difficult to maintain a consistent blend, as availability was based on a commitment to buying coffee early, sight unseen. This began to change in 2008 when Scott visited El Salvador to meet Emilio Lopez Diaz in person. Although we had already purchased small amounts of Emilio’s coffee, this meeting enabled Herkimer and Cuatro M to begin a long term reciprocal relationship that continues to this day. Emilio provides us with a custom blend of washed and natural processed coffee for our Espresso Blend and we have contributed to his ability to continuously produce exceptional speciality coffees through our committed relationship.

Other connections soon followed. In 2012, Scott met Samuel Demisse, as he was developing his import business. Samuel’s relationships with mill owners in Ethiopia enabled us to begin purchasing natural process Yirgacheffe for our Espresso Blend, as well as our single origin Kochere. Annually, Scott travels to the Carmo de Minas region of Brazil, cementing a partnership with Finca Canaan owner Sergio Dias and his cousin, Pedro, of Finca do Condado. Scott’s feedback on these visits has encouraged the farmers to begin moving away from total mechanical picking and reliance on UV sorting solely, which has resulted in visibly higher quality coffee.

For the past 9 years, or so, our Espresso has been blended in the same way, using the same coffees. We like to think that it exemplifies our commitment to long lasting and sustainable relationships with our producers and importers. It’s an everyday drinker that bridges the gap between the Old World roasts of Italy and the New World profiles that have developed more recently in the U.S. We’re really proud of it, and we hope you’ll enjoy it just a little more having learned its story!