Our 2018-2019 Winter Blend was created with passion. For most coffee companies, creating a blend is easy–all you have to do is take your two or three oldest coffees, roast them darker, and mix them up. Most blends on the market are just this: the sad, unwanted leftovers rebranded as something special. In my honest opinion, this is not only disrespectful to the customers who are being sold this snake-oil, but it entirely misses the remarkable ability of coffees to compliment and expose one another in stunning ways.
Every roasting company has opportunities to create something completely unwarranted by carefully selecting and blending coffees together. As roaster at Utopian, I have taken this challenge upon myself to create something remarkable, because if I am going to blend, I’m going to do it with purpose.
Throughout the early fall I sought coffees from all corners of the world. What raw ingredients would give me the ability to translate the mood of winter into a sensatory experience? I became interested in a slew of coffees making their way from Southeast Asia. Historically roasters have sought coffees from this region because of the heavy and earthy tones which work great for certain blends and darker roasts. I was not looking for anything with those earthy-funk flavors, but I seeking out coffees with naturally heavier tones.
In the dead of winter I’m not thinking about spring flowers or summer picnics, I’m focused on staying warm and creating warmth around me. This became the ultimate inspiration for this year’s winter blend: warmth and flavors we associate with the warmth of this season. Eventually I came across two coffees that really spoke to me in both their flavors and respective stories.
Utopian Coffee is located in the heart of downtown Fort Wayne, Indiana. For those of you unfamilar, Fort Wayne has a large Burmese population due to unrest within Myanmar (Burma). In the last decade thousands of refugees and immigrants have come to Fort Wayne. At the same time, the specialty coffee farming industry in Myanmar has gained international attention from roasters because of the outstanding quality. When I came across a washed lot from the Shan region I was extremely interested in what flavors a relatively young specialty-coffee producing country could create. While the coffee was not the most complex I’d tasted this year, several inherent flavor aspects made me believe it was meant to be a component of our winter blend.
While I was seeking out this coffee from Myanmar, I’d been talking with Vikram at Benchmark Coffee Traders about an amazing Papua New Guinea peaberry lot. After several sample roasts and dialing in the flavor I was able to pull out some amazing and suprising flavors from this coffee. Undergoing two rounds of color-sorting and two rounds of dry-picking, this coffee displayed utterly stunning flavors which, simply put, are not regular to most Southeastern Asian coffees I’ve tasted. As I said earlier, Southeast Asia has not been associated with high-quality specialty coffee until only recently, so to see coffees of such a caliber availble this early into farmers learning quality control techniques was inspiring.
When I was finally able to blend these coffees together, I found that niether of their unique flavors were diminished, but rather some of the less-noticable traits of each became more present and accentuated in a way coffees very rarely react when blending occurs. I truly hope you find this blend as incredible as I do.
Hints of sandalwood, clove and star anise dance playfully together to create an intriguing and distinguished aromatic profile.
The flavors of the cup bring a myriad of seasonal flavors: hearty molasses tones establish the setting where plum and dried apricot all intertwine creating an exotic-fruited coalesce. The finish is very simple and tea-like with wonderful tones of hazelnut and burnt sugar.