The Roast ED is the oldest espresso blend at Caffenation, but of course there's a long story behind the name and content.
It all started in 2003 when i founded Caffenation. I sold coffee beans, roasted by the once famous Jean Vermeulen from Lokeren, per kilo (or quarter kilo) and presented them in open jute bags. Most of the offer were single origin coffees, think Mokka Harrar-Yirgacheffe-Tarrazu, or the all famous 'grand mom' variety Maragogype.
Besides off the single origin coffees i had decaf (rubbish quality in those first years, so forget about them) and two espresso blends. (Typical lighter roasted filter coffees were not on the menu yet). My cheapest espresso blend was called Italian Roast and contained mainly dark roasted cheapo Brazils and a small percentage of Robusta beans. Now i detest these kind of blends, but little did i know in those prehistoric days.....
The most important and best sold blend on display was called the House Blend. Not a very original name and the content was fully in hands of Jean, the roast master. I even forgot what was in there, but probably a lot of different origins and probably not that spectacular. 'In season', 'light roast' and 'cupping score' were not existing yet.
Over the years Yirgacheffe coffee grew on me and became my to-go-to coffee, so i started to make my own blends bit by bit. For example i took half of the House Blend and mixed this with the Yirg. That way we had a cleaner cup with more fruity notes that that worked much better with milk. Even in that era i didn't like too much (cheap) natural Brazils with milk. I still think it's the biggest mistake ever of so many roasteries to blend in such a high percentage of Brazil in the main/milk blend. I'm sure the low price of this origin has a lot to do with it. The main focus of many is money-making and not knock-out-coffee-no-matter-the-cost. Whatever, and sorry for this small rant.
Before starting our own roastery and practices in 2010 i decided to absorb the coffee landscape in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 2006. The Coffee Collective just opened their doors, but it was at Kontra were i became inspired on blend building, transparency and better coffee in general.
Kontra was back then the house of the champs. They roasted the coffee for leading bars like cafe Europa and were the most specialized coffee company in Copenhagen Denmark, home ground off the champs, as no other place in the world has seen more Barista champions. Already in 2006 they served latte art at 'commercial' bars at the airport and fantastic light roast Kenyan filter coffee in Specialty Bars.
And their 'house' blend was delivered in transparent bags, which was probably not the smartest idea - but looking good!!!-, with full transparency on content.
I'm not a coffee bag collector, but happy i collected this one!
Today this sounds normal, but in those days this was unseen. It inspired me in a big way and coming back i directly started to give people more info on the house blend. More transparency on (buying) prices took a couple extra years - i guess that was for 2013; maybe this is an idea for another post....
Here's how the House Blend looked like in 2012 - on the label we had at the back of our bags.
The first three components were more conventional type coffees, the last three ones were left over single origin coffees blended in to clear the stock; this concept was those days the basic concept of the House Blend, and still is so many years later. So a natural Brazil, an Ethiopian grade 2 coffee (the best value for money we find in the market) and a 3rd clean cup washed coffee. 10% procent could be left over single origin specialty coffee lots - in this 12/12/12 House Blend it's a bit more spectacular and with many different beans.
That year i thought the name 'House Blend' became too dull and i was on the lookout for something more fun and original. .... and came up with 'RED ROAST'. Sounds like a communist blend, which fitted well in our company colors and basic Caffenation feel - think Cuban Street Art vibes.... and black/red/white.
I still like the typo and strength it displays, but some elements i didn't think over the way i had to. The word 'Red' is not meaning something in particular. When i think of the color red i think of blood, communism, football clubs, tomato's, fire trucks and .... filter coffee.
So when rethinking our packaging and line up one year later i decided to change things again.
Finally in 2014 we launch our 'coffees with a character' line up, which is up to now still the way we roll.
I wanted to make sure people could see, standing in front of our line up, immediately what every coffee stands for, and our designer Tony come up with this line of colors and characters. We changed from Red Roast to Ed Roast, and flopped finally words around into Roast ED. Which, by the way, sounds great when pronounced in one word as 'roasted'.
The subline 'Espresso Blend with a lot of character' in combination with the strong word ED and the colors yellow&black should be an indication of what's inside: our strongest and most conventional coffee in the range. On yellow & black: i remember i wasn't so sure about the color 'yellow', but in combination with big black lettering, it combed fine, just like other 'character' brands as Caterpillar, Nikon, Dewalt, Stanley and .... Batman :-)
The idea behind the ED is offering value for money and a coffee situated in between a more commercial blend, but lighter in roast, and a Specialty Blend. For those who want less acidity, an easy to go versatile - for all purposes - cup and for people who have basic equipment and needs, both at home or in a professional environment. Image you have a commercial 'bean machine' style Jura and you drink commercial shit for many years but want to test something less dark, fruitier or more honest; this coffee is, together with our Brazil IAN, the best start. For the more ambitious people, and fruity coffee lovers, it could be the stepping stone towards more high-end blends like our Mister LGB, but i don't feel bad when people think the Roast ED is the best color/flavor we offer, even for filter.
Today we blend mostly 30% natural Brazil, 30% Ethiopia Sidamo grade 2, 30% Guatemala Huehuetenango and a 10% left over from the single origin department (don't think woody coffees though!!). All three main components are the best a man can get for its money and vary around €5 euro greens price a kilo (greens price meaning; our buying price + shipping + storing + duty excise tax).
Fancy to test the Roast ED: we don't have it on our grinders in the bar, but bags available everywhere (meaning in the bar, at dealers or simply online).
An for those who own a Nespresso machine: also in this department we offer Roast ED coffee in compostable capsules, of course. Cheers.