Batdorf and Bronson Coffee Roasters is heading into its 30th anniversary and, to celebrate, they set out to create a version of their annual Holiday Blend that would be truly representative of the company.
To do this, the head roaster and green bean buyer called an all-company cupping and broke everyone up into teams. The groups were presented with a multitude of coffees from origins and with varying roast profiles. Then, they all scaled out recipes and submitted them for brewing. This was followed by a blind tasting and rating conversation.
The options available were Brazil, Sidamo, Guatemala El Valle, Colombia, Italian roast, and Papua New Guinea. Not all of these made it into the final roast and most of the teams only used a few of the coffees. According to their website, the final components were Colombia Huila, Guatemala Antigua, Brazil Geraís, and a “secret spice.”
Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we’re sipping the Holiday Blend, from Batdorf and Bronson Coffee Roasters in Olympia, Washington. Feel free to pull up a chair.
origin: Colombia Huila // Guatemala Antigua // Brazil Gerais
Uh oh. As soon as I tore open the packaging, I knew this wasn’t going to be a pleasurable cupping experience. The beans are all black and very oily, and the aroma is very roasty. The Holiday Blend’s bloom is massive—it’s so gassy that it’s practically blooming out of my Chemex.
Taking my first few sips of the cup immediately post-brew… Woof. This is a heavy, full-bodied coffee, and it possesses a chewy, molasses-like mouthfeel. Each sip is packed with abrasive metal, burnt wood, smoke, and ash. Beneath it all are very, very, very subtle flavors of cranberry, toasted nuts, roasted malts, nougat, and pine, but it’s not enough to make the cupping a pleasurable experience.
This coffee was really overdone in terms of roast; that much was clear just looking at the black, oily beans, glistening in the light of my kitchen. In the cup, it tasted like burnt wood, copper, and Nitrogen; there were faint hints of the coffee’s natural flavors, but it wasn’t enough to salvage the cup.
Holiday blends are meant to complement the season. Some are lively, fruity embodiments of “making seasons bright;” some are savory and herbal, reminiscent of pine trees, wreaths, and spices used in holiday baked goods; and while some are roasty-toasty, like “chestnuts roasting on an open fire,” Batdorf and Bronson’s 2015 Holiday Blend was more like the open fire.
Andrew is a husband, father, dog lover, craft beverage enthusiast, content creator, and niche market Internet celebrity. Formerly of A Table in the Corner of the Cafe and The Pulitzer Project and contributor to Barista Magazine and Mental Floss, he’s been writing on the Internet for years.