Stephen Leighton (coffee guy, blogger at Hasbean, one of the more permanent fixtures on Bloggle’s list of outbound links) has a featured article in the most recent issue of Barista magazine in which he wonders aloud, “Is this the death of the espresso blend?” In it he notes that James Hoffmann’s World Barista Championship was won with not one, but two single-origin coffees prepared as espresso. That’s a notion that not so long ago would have been unheard of — which has annoyed me for years — but which may be on the naked edge of a trend…
I think those observing the WBC competition this year will have noted that blends have gradually become less complicated and often now have far fewer components than they might have contained in the past. There has been a real movement towards allowing the coffee to do the talking with signature drinks, presentation and blends becoming simpler. This has to be applauded.
This is me, clapping loudly.
I make no claims to be a purist — a snob, yes, but not a purist — but I’m awfully keen to see more single-origin espressos come to the fore; for their character, their unbridled flavors and aromas, and the sheer adventure of discovering what a given grand cru drip coffee can do in the small cup. I want to see more coffee origins — especially Central and South American origins — experiment with semi-washed and dry process coffees to afford the kind of character that would better complement a single-origin espresso (a stellar example being Erna Knutsen’s Santa Elena Tarrazu Miel from a few years back.)
But mostly I want to see more single-origin espresso coffees as an antidote to the sameness, the blandness, the carefully measured and highly reproducible mediocrity that so very many commercial espresso blends strive for. And if you think I’m calling out Illy and LavAzza and their ilk, well… you just might be right.
Meanwhile, good on you Steve! And you, dear reader, go get yourself a copy of Barista magazine. There’s fine stuff in there. Look for the issue with a very relaxed-looking James Hoffmann on the cover.