For a big group of our customers, Black and Tan , is it. Tried and true. B&T is as beloved for it’s flavor as it is it’s nice Irish name. (As an aside, we are nice Irish boys, and our logo, is a nice Irish clover, but, last week, someone came in and asked if our logo was steam, coming off a cup…which, is awesome and will be forwarded to our graphic designer) It’s a pretty simple idea, to mix dark roast and light roast, of the same bean, creating a unique and balanced single origin. Other roasters do it…I think, although I haven’t had one by anyone else. I don’t pay much attention.
We roast the light and dark separately, to really maximize the the flavor profile of each. Molding a crisp light and heavy dark are different jobs, with different timings and temperatures. Something we have learned, through lots of practice and tastings. 8 years worth, since we made our first black and tan. Accidentally, cluelessly, and probably somewhat dangerously, Black and Tan is what came out when we put 5 pounds of Brazilian coffee in our hand built roaster.
It was a bright March afternoon, my Dad, our cousin Tim, and I, took a couple scoops out of our first ever bag, and put them in a drum, built by Simply Manufacturing, and stuck the whole thing in our roaster, burning as hard as it could (Later upgrades contained the heat better, but that early incarnation had the burners going full blast and losing all kinds of heat out the sides). Some reading told us what to look for, what to smell for, and what to hope didn’t happen, but we really were just heating and hoping. It was a completely beautiful, clean drum, which is probably, with our heating issues, why black and tan exists. A good coffee producing drum needs to be worn in, seasoned, and coffee oiled. I’m sure, our beans were sticking to the stainless steel, absorbing most of the fire, causing the inside beans to not get any contact time on the drum, and roasting slower. So when we pulled it out, dumped it into our cooling tray, we had a mottled mess. Some black, some dark dark, some medium, and a whole lot of very light tan. I’m not sure who immediately said “Black and Tan”, but it was right away, and it was accurate. We stirred it, and pretended to know what we were looking at, trying to learn a lesson that we probably didn’t have the background to learn yet. And we scooped it up, took it inside and brewed it right up. I’m sure, it tasted awful, but I’m sure we didn’t know enough to know that. It tasted like coffee. Probably burnt coffee*, but still, we were drinking OUR coffee. And it was black and tan.
*Some companies have made quite a living burning coffee, who am I to judge. 🙂