House or Single O?

Sometimes we sense some consternation in our customers when, if they order a milk coffee, we recommend they try our house blend before trying one of our single origins. I promise we don't do this to self-aggrandise! This blog post is a summary of our approach to espresso.

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98% of an espresso is water. Did you know that? Yep, meaning if the espresso is one ounce of an eight ounce cup, the actual coffee is only 0.25% of the finished drink. A quarter of a percent!!! This highlights the sensitivity of what we are dealing with in coffee. Obviously preparation is paramount in this game: no point in having the best coffee if you don't know what you're doing with it. Conversely though, even the best barista can't polish a turd (if you'll forgive me using one of my favourite Australianisms of all time).

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So, single origin espresso. If you're a black coffee drinker you know how extensive our weekly offerings are. Between 3 and 4 every week, you can drink your way around the whole world in our shop! Here's the thing though: we do try to avoid serving single origin to those having white or sweetened coffees, reason being that to us, those people will simply enjoy Vapor more.

So many of our single origins are characterised by their acidity and high-end fruit and floral notes, and aside from missing out on the ability to taste them, adding milk simply makes the whole thing taste pretty awful. How is your mouth supposed to make sense of dairy alongside notes of grapefruit and cola, for example?

Take my word for it that we never recommend house blend with a high horse attitude. We just want the best possible coffee experience for every customer as per their palate, and everyone's palate is different. So much of a specific single origin coffee’s flavour profile is lost when it is exposed to additives like sugar or milk, and it ends up tasting bland and weak in the cup. You feel ripped off, and we feel sad about that coffee missing its full potential.

So anyway, blended espresso. Our espresso. Vapor.

Beyond the actual flavours of it, a dynamite house blend is a combination of two things: consistency and quality. Considering the thrashing it receives under the pump in the mornings, I’ve honestly never used a coffee as consistent as Vapor before, and we’ve been giving it such a thrashing for over three years now.

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Finding Vapor in 2014 with Toby’s made a challenging decision very easy for us. It was, and still is, everything a busy high-volume espresso bar could want in a blend. It has a powerfully spiced chocolate base (Indian and Brazilian components), mid-level nuttiness and a buttery mouthfeel (Colombia), finishing with light citrus and vanilla overtones (rotating African origins).

Blending beans in coffee to create a consistent coffee works in a similar way to blending grape varietals in viticulture. The more components you have, the further reduced the potential for single, specific flavours, but the more control the roaster has over consistency and overall profile. The actual components of Vapor blend are in constant flux, such is the seasonal nature of the produce we are working with in the coffee industry. It's an exceptionally tricky game which is why we are more than happy to outsource it to the experts at TEC.

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Vapor blend has literally been designed for milk coffees. If you've drunk it before you'd know this, as it does a fine job of flavouring your entire beverage despite making up less than 1% of it. And even despite its primary intention for cafe latte, it still produces a charming black coffee! Dead set, even with 10+ outstanding single origins to choose from each week, we still choose to drink Vapor OCDS. 100% serious. They're just that good, all the time.

R.