A second chat with Velton Ross of Velton's Coffee Roastering Company

This post summarizes my second exchange with Velton Ross of Velton's Roasters.  The first exchange was before I tried the coffee and blogged about it, this exchange came after I finished my batch and had already blogged about it.  I can't think of many companies in any field where you can write to the company with your opinions and hear back from the man the company is named after - and hear such an in depth response at that!

Velton: I don’t believe I’ve tried it below 16 grams in a 58 mm basket, so I’m excited now to try it so!  I will admit, however, that a fair amount of the blend development does take place with the aid of a La Pavoni PC-16 as well as commercial equipment so it does make sense that it should work on both. It’s always seemed important to me that I not only develop my blends and roast profiles with commercial equipment but with home equipment as well, since most every lb of coffee I sell retail is destined for the home environment.

Velton: The Bonsai, as my signature blend, is indeed designed to be broadly approachable and with versatility in mind. It’s designed to be solid and balanced as a stand alone shot as well as to play well with milk. It’s designed with components that I either have access to most all year long or can be replaced with new crop fairly easily; in other words I need to be able to maintain the blend integrity throughout the year. It’s also designed to be unique; I built the blend around the natural process Mexico Nayarita, a coffee I’ve used for over a decade now. You certainly do not see many signature blends built on a natural process base, nor usually a Central American coffee for that matter.

Me: The comments above were interesting to me and pertained to his own roast. The next comment I found especially interesting because it is not something I had ever heard mentioned before about roasting, and which may well explain experiences I’ve had pulling certain blends that were less predictable than I expected. It just makes sense, but to me it is a really insightful comment!...

Velton: Other factors I try and keep in mind in developing and maintaining this blend is how much variability in percentages can it suffer. One thing I feel people don’t consider much is how much play there is in the %s from shot to shot (why blends are so difficult to dial in); for example, what happens when a coffee that is designed to be 15% of a blend (usually because it’s not so great on it’s own) is present at 25%? With just a small handful of beans comprising the amount of coffee needed to pull a shot, it doesn’t take very many beans one way the other to significantly veer from the intended flavor profile.

A couple years ago Bonsai was a 4 bean blend with Sumatra Mandheling being the 4th. It was present at 15% in the blend, and at and around that percentage I thought it actually made the blend a bit more complete – it was the bass note. However, about one in five shots would get a bit TOO much Sumatra and it would become very woodsy/cedar in the cup, overshadowing everything else. I decided that having a blend that was successful 80% of the time wasn’t good enough and eventually took it out altogether. I’ve since found ways to replace what I liked best about the Sumatra and I think the blend is better now.

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