It’s been 18 months in the making, but ZURI, the new African Blend from Merlo is almost here.
If you’ve been a Friend of Merlo for a while, you might remember the release of our last blend – Alto – back in 2012. It has been a few years between blends, but the process we followed to create our new blend remained mostly unchanged.
So, where did we start?
The concept for a new blend initially sprang out of our team’s desire for a fresh new taste. Something a little out of left field – different to other blends in the Merlo family.
The first step in creating a coffee blend is to set the goal posts. To begin with, I investigated coffees with very different characteristics to our current range.
As I refined it down, it seemed that coffees from Africa and Indonesia would be the best fit.
From here, we sifted down further and decided to focus our energy into creating a 100% African blend.
With the goal posts set, the challenge was then to find coffees with a variety of complimentary profiles to create a well-balanced blend.
Most African beans I have come across over my 23 years in the industry tend to be quite delicate, with high acidity, in a very clean cup.
These are delicious as stand-alone origins, however to create a blend would mean balancing these with fuller bodied African beans, whilst not overpowering the more sophisticated notes that are highly desirable.
Two of the four beans in the blend were selected quickly based on my existing knowledge, but to find the other two to round out the blend took some searching.
I can’t say it was an arduous task to source these beans, as tasting amazing coffees from all over the world is definitely a perk of being a roaster, but it was a fairly lengthy process and took a lot of deliberation to find just the right ones.
After trialling many different African beans, I decided on four that between them covered a wide range of flavours and mouthfeel in the cup.
From there it was a “simple” matter of trial and error.
We changed the ratios of the coffees in the blend until we found the right balance, then several options were roasted and trialled by our cupping panel and upper management.
While it would have been great to get it first go, there were many tweaks made before we settled on the final profile.
This process included not only bean ratio changes, but also roast degree (colour) – light enough so as to enhance the florals and fruits that are generally pronounced in African beans, yet dark enough to have a full-bodied cup that wouldn’t be lost in a milk-based coffee.
The final step, and arguably the trickiest, was to name our new blend.
In March we put it out to our Friends of Merlo and received an incredible response! I was glad it wasn’t me who had to choose from around 500 entries.
That said, I think the team chose perfectly, settling on ZURI, meaning “beautiful” in Swahili.
It is my opinion that this is certainly a beautiful coffee, and my sincere hope that you’ll agree… Enjoy!
This blend is a showcase of the beautiful flavours of East African coffee – sweet, smooth, silky and perfectly balanced.
origins: Ethiopia, Zambia, Rwanda, Kenya
aroma: blueberry, cherry
flavour: red fruit, molasses, cashew
acidity: orange zest