Written by Nick Brehany – Manager of Sourcing and Roasting
Gift Giver Blend
As a kid, the holiday season was always a big deal. My mom would begin decorating the house immediately after Thanksgiving, taking down the autumn-colored trimmings and replacing them with a slew of odd seasonal ornaments; everything from tiny chubby Santas made of wood to the plastic Christmas tree with every inch covered in a mixture of lights, trinkets, knick-knacks, and the occasional baby photo. While decorating, mom would play the exact same CD, and it’s been played so much that it’s become a family wide joke: Amy Grant’s A Christmas Album will forever be the soundtrack to my childhood holiday season. We’d end the day of decorating by baking some cookies inspired by my mom’s Pennsylvania Dutch upbringing.
The weeks leading up to Christmas were near unbearable as a kid. School became even more tedious as even the teachers became tired and longed for a break. Every year’s Christmas was slightly different since some years my family would make the 10 hour drive to Pennsylvania to be around the rest of our family, and on other years the family would come to us. Spending time with my grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins was probably the most important part of the entire holiday season. When you grow up without seeing family other than once or twice a year you really have to make the best of the little time you do have with them. Luckily, those moments have resulted in strong relationships that have lasted to this day, and will last for many more years.
I always end up creating a blend for the last subscription cycle of the year. When making this blend I try to source coffees that reflect the emotions I most closely associate with the season: joy and hope. It was always a joy to spend the season with my family doing all sorts of goofy holiday stuff. At the same time, I consistently felt a profound sense of hope during this season. Maybe it was seeing the love my family shared with each other, or the faith that became such a big part of the conversations each day as we got closer to Christmas day. Either way, I wanted to create a blend that reflected these emotions as best as possible.
Another one of my goals for this subscription is to provide coffee that are fresh. This means featuring coffees that have been harvest and processed in recent months and are just now arriving to the US. By selection coffees based on what’s seasonally fresh (and not what’s the cheapest or most alluring) allows me to highlight flavors at the peak. This means the flavors you’ll find in your cup are the deepest and most refreshing possible.
I found the two best coffees to highlight in this winter season are both from South America, which harvests in the late spring and summer, processes in the fall, and the coffee finally arrives in the late fall and through the winter months. The first coffee is from the Inza region of Cauca, Colombia. This specific region of Colombia is known for the distinct flavor profile, which tends to feature tones of plum, dark fruits, milk chocolate, and a rich nutty finish. Coffee roasters around the world buy coffee from Inza year after year because it is so consistently good for a variety of uses, from blends to single origin features.
The second coffee comes from nearby Peru. Until recently, Peru felt like a really under-represented country in specialty coffee. When I first began roasting coffee I was told Peruvian coffees are best used for blends only, more or less to hide the natural undesirable flavors of Peruvian coffees. My attitude toward Peruvian coffees completely changed when I tasted coffee from the Rutas Del Incas cooperative. Whereas Peruvian coffees had usually been just plain nutty flavored, this coffee displayed rich citrus and stone fruit flavors as well as floral aromas. I immediately fell in love with this coffee, and ever since it’s become a part of our regular winter lineup.
By blending these two coffees together I find that the subsequent blend is able to highlight both the best qualities of each individual coffee, while creating a new and completely unique experience as well.
So why call this blend Gift Giver? One of my favorite memories of the holiday season with my family comes from when I was 10 or 11 years old. At that age I was spending most of my time playing videogames on the Nintendo GameCube. One Christmas I was gifted Mario Kart, and I was immediately hooked. Gifts can be really great when you enjoy them yourself, but probably the best part of that gift was the fact my family could play with me. My mom, dad, and sisters joined me and we raced each other endlessly over the next couple days. The best gifts aren’t things you get to enjoy all alone, but rather those you can share with others.
In many ways this blend is my gift to you, our friends and subscribers who enjoy our coffees throughout the year. But, this gift comes with a challenge as well: Share this blend with others, and enjoy the shared experience together. This may be your partner, or a close friend, or maybe the people you share an office space with. Whomever it may be, I hope this blend becomes a gift that is shared with others and can be the catalyst for spreading hope and joy.