Articles From Whole Latte Love

Whole Latte Love™ Signature Coffees: There's No Place Like Home

Posted: 04/26/07
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WLL Signature CoffeesWhen Dorothy and her rag-tag gang set off down the Yellow Brick Road in The Wizard of Oz, they were all in search of something. The Cowardly Lion wanted some courage, the Tin Man longed for a heart, the Scarecrow needed a brain, and Dorothy? She just needed a lift back to Kansas. We here at Whole Latte Love have to agree with our favorite, ruby-slipper clad starlet when she said, “There’s no place like home,” and that’s why we decided to develop our very own Signature Coffee Blends.

With the help of some wizards of roasting, we’ve developed five outstanding coffees that are unlike anything you’ve tried before: Buzzopolis (medium-dark roast espresso), Monaco (medium-light roast espresso), Ethereal (dark roast drip), Unconditional (dark roast decaf drip), and Reflection (dark roast decaf espresso). An unusually wide variety of origins, the highest quality beans, mircobatch-roasting using the precise Agtron roasting system, and post-roast mixing have created this mouth-watering set of drip coffees and espresso.

Somewhere Over the Ocean

Somewhere Over the OceanThe beans used to create Whole Latte Love’s Signature Blends come from all over the globe, from South America, Africa, Indonesia, and more. Unlike most blends that use just two or three kinds of coffee, each of Whole Latte Love’s blends includes at least three varieties of beans, all the way up to five varieties. But why go to all the trouble? Isn’t a coffee bean a coffee bean?

You might think that all coffee beans would taste pretty much the same, but in actuality, the flavor of coffee is greatly determined by where it is grown. A lot like grapes used to make wine, the flavor of coffee beans depends on the soil, climate, and altitude of their growing region. Every type of coffee bean has its own distinct characteristics. For example, Colombian beans are known for their very bright acidity, Costa Rican beans are known for their nutty flavor, and Mexican beans are known for having a full body. By using a wide variety and a perfect balance of beans, each sip has more complex flavors to enjoy, well-balanced acidity, body, and roast.

What a Bean! What a Bean!

Coffee on MountainThe beans used to create Whole Latte Love’s blends may come from every corner of the world, but they have one thing in common: they are all Arabica. There are two main varieties of coffee beans: Arabica and Robusta. Robusta beans come from a much heartier plant than Arabica beans, can be grown in a variety of altitudes and climates, and have a higher caffeine content than their finicky brothers. This makes Robusta beans less expensive than Arabica, so they are often used as a filler in blends. However, we pull out all the stops for our Signature Coffees, and never use Robusta filler. All five coffees are made up of 100% quality Arabica beans.

Arabica beans, deemed the superior bean by the majority of coffee lovers, require more care to cultivate and can only be successfully grown at altitudes over 1,300 ft. They are sensitive to temperature changes, rainfall, and create an incredibly aromatic and flavorful cup of coffee. Think of them as the high-maintenance Tin Woodsman, always needing to be tended to by Dorothy and the rest of the gang with an oil can.

A Coffee of a Different Color

Coffee WizardWith such a large variety of Arabica beans, you’re probably wondering, how do they find the perfect roast? If you’re picturing a caffeine-fueled wizard in his laboratory mixing coffees, measuring roast temperatures, and inspecting the color of the beans to find the perfect balance, you aren’t too far off. To explain the roasting process, let’s use my personal favorite: Buzzopolis, our medium-dark roast espresso.

Buzzopolis is made up of beans from four different origins found in Africa and Central America, and because each variety of bean tastes better at a different level of roasting, each variety is roasted separately. Roasting in small batches like this is aptly named mircobatch-roasting, and gives the roasters complete control over the flavor of the beans. It takes years of experience and thousands of cups of coffee to truly understand the subtle nuances of each bean variety and its ideal roast, and you can see the fruits of our labor right in your hopper. If you look closely, you can actually see the different colors of the beans, ranging from light to dark Italian-style roasts.

Once the ideal level of roasting is found, each variety of bean is placed in an Agtron coffee analyzer, the standardized testing system of the coffee world. The Agtron analyzer is a spectrometer, a high-tech device that measures waves of light. If you’re like me and never took AP Physics in high school, let me put it this way: the Agtron analyzer figures out the exact color of the beans. Once it finds the exact color, the Agtron analyzer assigns a number to that color between 25 and 95. The higher the number, the lighter the roast, and vice versa.

This high-tech machine is used for one main reason: consistency of our coffee from bag to bag. The perfect roast number is found for each of the four coffees in Buzzopolis and then recorded, so every time that blend is roasted, the best roast can be duplicated exactly. Every cup of our coffee or espresso will be just as flavorful and delicious as the last.

If I Only Had a Blend

After the beans for Buzzopolis are roasted, the best ratios are found to create the overall flavor, body, and acidity of the blend. This mixing of coffee varieties after they have been roasted is called post-roast mixing. A lot like mixing colors of paint to create brand new shades, finding the perfect recipe for a blend is the result of experience and a whole lot of trial and error. The goal is to keep the blend balanced and never to let one variety of bean overpower the rest.

Roasts

When developing Buzzopolis, many versions were tasted by experts using a technique called cupping. Completely unrelated to the therapeutic medical treatment of the same name, cupping in the coffee world is the standard way to determine a coffee’s flavor profile. The rituals of cupping are similar to wine tasting, with the “cuppers” analyzing every aspect of the coffee: smelling the aroma of the grounds, the brewed coffee, inspecting the green coffee beans, even slurping the coffee with a spoon to experience every flavor the coffee has to offer.

If certain beans were overpowering the rest, or if some were not prominent enough, the ratios of Buzzopolis were altered and the blend was tasted again. Eventually, we found that perfect combination of beans and roast to create the taste we were searching for from the beginning. The final version of Buzzopolis is a delicious medium-dark roast with a bright, pleasing acidity and a heavy, almost syrupy body. It features a sweet overall flavor, paired with hints of berry, plum, spice, and smoke. We followed this intense process with every one of our five coffees, so you always know you’re getting the best, no matter what blend you choose.

And Buzzopolis was there…and Monaco…and Reflection…

A wide variety of origins? Expertly balanced? Perfectly roasted? Could it all be a dream? Lucky for you, dear reader, it’s all as real as a cyclone sweeping through Kansas in July. Whole Latte Love has five different Signature Coffees for you to choose from, so try them all, pick your favorite, and brew away.