It’s the attention to the details that makes Detour stand out. Meticulously roasting of coffee and developing the best profiles that are suited for the beans. Take La Vuelta, a coffee previously featured in The Roasters Pack. Here’s how Geoff Woodley described some of the roasting trials:
“In one roast we did we got a bit of pineapple coming through, but it was verging on sour or underdeveloped and I don’t think that was inherent in the coffee. When we roasted it properly we got more of that orange citrus, brown sugar, and maybe a bit of graham cracker – cinnamon and sweet taste.”
There’s no cutting of corners and a heck of a lot of experimentation.
When you take their Holiday Blend that we featured in December, it’s no different. How do you come up with a Holiday Blend?
“It’s actually harder than you think!” shared Geoff Woodley while laughing on how to come up with a coffee blend.
For the Holiday blend, it’s a combination of two coffees – an Ethiopian Konga & a Kenyan Kiamwangi. Each with a separate roast profile, combined with a deliberate ratio which creates the target taste profile.
It started with an over-arching theme for the coffee, and for this one it was to be “inviting and delicious”. With that in mind, they began the experimenting.
“You really want to hit all aspects of coffee. With a blend you get a bit more control in your taste. With a single origin coffee you’re just trying to roast what’s in this coffee. With a blend you can say ‘I want it to be fruitier’ so you can add another coffee to make it fruitier. It’s fun you get a little bit more control that way.”
Roasting is one part of the puzzle. The other is farming & sourcing, and it’s definitely not overlooked. They’re often making trips to origin to visit the farmers to better understand their operation. And when they can’t make a trip? Skype. The power of the internet was specifically useful for Barista Jon Plett, who learned more about the farm & the milling by having a conversation with the coffee producer, which definitely came in handy during the 2014 Canadian Barista Championship, where he finished 7th.
There is one guiding principle that motivates the folks over at Detour Coffee: roast the best coffees, the best they can.
Finding “the best coffees” is an ever evolving challenge, especially when it comes to finding ones which taste exceptional and are produced in a respectful manner. They won’t be looking for coffees only certified with a fair trade label – in fact they find a few issues with the Fair Trade Certification and want to go over and above.
“First, the Fair Labeling Organization only works with large groups of farms organized into cooperatives, not small individual farms. Most of the producers we work with are smaller farms and have already distinguished themselves based upon the quality of their product.” they explain.
Further describing the coffee industry similarities to the wine industry in Niagara “We feel that the best coffees deserve the same respect as fine wines. We often use the analogy of taking wines from all the wine producers in Niagara and mixing them together. Is this the best thing for Niagara wine producers and the local economy? Or is best to let individual producers distinguish themselves and dictate price instead?”
Going against the grain by attempting to educate the downsides to a very positively represented organization isn’t easy. However despite the challenges, the Burlington roaster is incredibly respected within Canada for their taste and their sourcing.