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The Zest Blog - by Mandy Delvecchio

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In the Stardust of a song - Zest Espressist series blends are coffee suspended in melody.

When you sip a cup of really great coffee you are most likely (if it’s any good) experiencing an array of senses – taste, sight, smell – so, why not attach sound to that moment too? It seems natural to me; so many moments in life are suspended aurally, remembered with the help of music.

That very phenomenon is reflected gently in lyrics of the jazz standard Stardust, with the help of Doris Day, crooning enchantingly about memories of a lost love transported in a song.

“The melody haunts my reverie. And I am once again with you, when our love was new…And now my consolation is in the stardust of a song.”

Don’t tell me you can’t relate to that feeling. Oh, my heart aches just thinking about it. Poor Doris. Music can transport a listener in the most profound way.

So, what of Doris Day and her melodic Stardust?

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Well, our newest (bright) Espressist blend is actually named Stardust – coincidence? No.

In fact, something you may not be aware of is that all of the blends in our Espressist series are named after memorable pieces of music. This was a purposeful venture.

At Zest we believe there are many similarities between honing the perfect recipe for a blend and composing a perfect melody. Our resident roast profile developer, (and coincidentally a jazz musician in his other life) Rob, enjoys “drawing parallels between the auditory and gustatory worlds.”

And why wouldn’t you draw such parallels? It makes perfect sense really. And it has been done before. Chefs often talk about finding a rhythm in the kitchen – in both the act of cooking and the flavours themselves. Remember when the effervescent Jamie Oliver spoke of the correlation between Food&Music? (You don’t? Watch here “Food Is Music”)

While a coffee roaster might die inside if you referred to roasting as ‘cooking’, the basis is mildly similar. And so too, the nuances in a roast blend, created when ‘cooking up a recipe’, are like individual notes of music – connecting to form a melody – and when the flavours of the beans, their origin and processes meet the volume of the roast and the complements of the blend, it can actually be quite symphonic.

So, where have we at Zest drawn influence from with our signature blends?

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Mostly jazz standards ­– because, Rob – and also because jazz compositions have a distinct way of celebrating individual notes and keys and structures bonding to create unique pieces of music. And also, there’s quite some intellect and understanding behind jazz compositions, as it is with creating a specialty espresso blend (for fear of sounding a little too bourgeoisie).

Let’s take our 2017 AICA award winning milk-based blend, Corcavado, for example. Corcavado is a famous folk tune written by Brazilian composer, Antonio Carlos Jobim – and famously sung by honey-voiced Brazilian chartreuse, Astrud Gilberto. The opening lyrics are “Quiet nights and quiet stars, quiet cords from my guitar”.

Rob felt this was a great representation of Corcavado, our quiet, but high achieving blend. And also Brazil, right? Corcavado is made up of beans from the Brazilian farm, Martas di Minas, joined in harmony with Peruvian and Papua New Guinean lots. The sweet blend has no up front acidity and, as an espresso, portrays strong earthy, buttery and of course, sweet (Astrud) flavours. Listen to the track and feel those sweet, gentle Brazilian rhythms dancing on your tongue.

And when you wrap your tastebuds around a rich, sweet, complex latte made from Espressist series blend, African Mailman – plum jam, chocolate pudding, cream and maple syrup – can’t you feel her, the soulful Nina Simone, tinkering away on the ivories? The fat bass notes, rhythmic leaps, and sweet high-notes, all existing harmoniously together in the same song. Just like the bold, chocolatey and spicey Nicaraguan pacamara beans walking across the keyboard with the Ethipoian guji, Suke Quto – bringing out the red berries. Nina is bold and complex, African Mailman as a latte is as bold as it comes.

Our most popular blend – and also AICA 2017 Silver medallist, Blackbird (Colombia, Ethiopia, Brazil) is less easy to define in just one song. While the flavour notes of nougat caramel and burnt toffee, “full of rich, melodious and charming character” has us immediately thinking of the ever-charming Dean Martin singing the classic, Bye Bye Blackbird, with “dazzling sweet notes hang(ing) in a balance of gripping harmonic context” – the flavour notes of Blackbird Espressist blend. It too is one of our most accessible blends – liked by pretty much everyone – which is comparable to the magnetic Beatles melody, Blackbird. Blackbird singing in the dead of night, this blend really sings. 

Can you see it now? Can you hear it, more pointedly?

Perhaps you need to sit down with a cup and really explore?

Below are all the blends in the series and their corresponding tunes, take a moment to indulge, turn up the sound on your next Zest espresso experience.

Blackbird

Bahia

Corcovado

CompositionVII

African Mailman

Libertango

Stardust