Back just before we had to close Flying Five Coffee in 2009, I was starting a project I was calling “Double Origin Espresso” to explore espresso blends with two beans. At the time, our blends were all composed of three blends, which was what I thought what was needed for an interesting and complex espresso.
I was very interested in Single Origin espresso (and still am), but at that time, hadn’t found origins that had enough complexity to satisfy me for espresso. Yet, the ideas behind Single Origins are incredibly attractive: they link what you’re drinking to a specific place in the world, and really feature the specific tastes in the bean. There’s nowhere to hide in a single origin coffee: all the features or defects in a coffee are front and center.
And, so I thought that a “Double Origin Espresso” might be the best of both worlds: you could possibly gain enough complexity from two beans to create interesting espressos, and yet still maintain the individual features of the two origins.
The linking of cup to place is potentially even more interesting with a Double Origin Espresso: you’d pair up two disparate places in the world and feature their specific tastes and play them off each other. Brazil and Ethiopia. India and Indonesia. Guatemala and Kenya. The possibilities are interesting and endless.
I never got a chance to pursue the Double Origin project – the realities of the 2008 and 2009 economy intervened. But, I’m happy to say that some other roasters have gone in this direction and are producing some great espresso blends with just two beans.
The first one I ran across is Heart’s Stereo. Is that a great name for a blend of two beans, or what? They rotate their pairings seasonally, their current one is 50% Colombia and 50% Ethiopia.
The seasonal rotation concept is another Single Origin staple, and it translates to Double Origin espresso perfectly. Coffee is a seasonal crop, and at any particular time of the year, different beans from different farms are in season. If you’re chasing the best tastes, you won’t have them all year round.
Another Double Origin Espresso I’ve had recently are two blends from Huckleberry. Their staple espresso is 50% Brazil and 50% Guatemala, and has tons of complexity. Earlier this year, they also had a 50% Brazil and 50% Kenya that had some very interesting acidity and high notes from the Kenya playing off of the base Brazil.
It’s interesting to me that both roasters ended up with 50/50 proportions – is this the go-to ratio for two bean espresso? Hard to say, but maybe so.
I suspect there’s a lot more Double Origin Espresso out there that we just don’t necessarily know about. I think there are a lot of roasters playing with this concept that aren’t labeling it as-such and just creating great espresso blends that feature great tastes from two origins.
Whatever it’s called, I think Double Origin Espresso is a fascinating extension of the Single Origin ideas into espresso blends.