Our first ready-to-pour coffee was years in the making.
Our newest blend, Moment’s Notice, was designed to shine as our first ready-to-pour coffee. With its sweet, chocolatey profile, it’s reminiscent of our richer blends Bella Donovan and Giant Steps, but its preparation method sets it apart.
The Search Begins
Nearly a decade ago, Blue Bottle Founder James Freeman and Director of Coffee Quality Benjamin Brewer set out to investigate which batch brew machines were capable of making truly delicious ready-to-pour coffee. They weren’t looking for a machine to replace human technique, they were trying to find one that could be tailored to Blue Bottle’s exacting standards of deliciousness.
Ultimately, after extensive research, it became clear that the technology of coffee machines wasn’t able to give us the control we wanted while bringing a coffee’s uniqueness into vivid focus.
Since then, however, advancements in specialty coffee technology have come a long way. Mindful of some guests’ desire for swift service, we began to revisit the idea of ready-to-pour coffee, curious to see what was achievable given recent innovations.
A machine is only as good as its program
It took us years to find a brewing tool that was sophisticated and customizable enough to mimic the methodical pacing of our analog pour-over technique. We were after a device with an operating system that began as a blank slate, so that with precise input, it could operate as accurately as our baristas, who can modulate a kettle’s pour down to the second. James and Benjamin wanted to make a delicious ready-to-pour coffee that felt like our own, whose profile fit into an ensemble with our other blends.
Testing makes perfect
Matt Longwell, who leads beverage innovation, tested countless machines to find such a technology, and landed on the Curtis G4, a model of coffee maker that has evolved over the years to reflect the feedback of Curtis’s fastidious clientele. The family-owned company, which is based in Southern California, worked closely with Matt as he learned the intricacies of programming the Curtis G4. Matt preset the temperature, the timing of the bloom (the pre-infusion of water that allows the coffee to off-gas), how long the water pours, how much water is used, and the intervals at which the water stops.
With seemingly every variable accounted for, Matt has the same level of control over the brewing process that we ask from our baristas who brew each cup by hand. The technology for well-extracted coffee had arrived.
Reverse-Engineering the Ideal Cup
Matt estimates that he and Benjamin Brewer tested variations of our new blend, Moment’s Notice, hundreds of times before they landed on a recipe and brew specifications that tasted just right.
From the beginning, we knew we wanted organic component coffees that would be vibrant all year long. We wanted a cup that, like our bolder classic blends, had substantial body and well-developed sweetness that could take cream well, yet remain balanced when served black.
This direction eventually led Benjamin to two of our most versatile component coffees—one from Colombia, the other from Uganda—which led to a blend that was balanced when brewed in micro batches of five to ten cups of coffee at a time. The blend’s sweet spot, he discovered, is when it tastes deeply chocolatey with browned sugar decadence and just a hint of candied lemon.
Dialing In Deliciousness
It took Matt and Benjamin months to dial in the specific brew specifications, which are a given coffee’s guide to preparation. By testing all of the variables, from dose, to total pour time, to the percentage of coffee dissolved in the water, our coffee team lands on the data points that become a barista’s guide. Matt, who was working with an entirely new device, began testing from scratch and spent months finding the ideal specifications for Moment’s Notice.
As with all our blends, Moment’s Notice will be dialed in every morning according to these specs. Our baristas will confirm the grind by using a refractometer to measure the total dissolved solubles in the coffee.
They’ll also rely on their sense of taste. If the blend’s expected sweetness isn’t there, they’ll start the dialing-in process again until they get the settings right. As Matt says, “You may be able to program a machine, but you can’t program coffee, and we’ll continue to dial in and taste with care like we always have.”
John Coltrane Inspires Another Blend
Moment’s Notice, named after a jaunty composition on Coltrane’s 1958 album, Blue Train, joins our blend lineup as a balanced and richly textured coffee. The track is quick-moving, with harmonic twists and turns—it’s the sort of song that propels movement.
For years, we’ve heard from folks who love to come to our cafes, but save the trip for weekends or days off because of the longer wait during our morning rush. Despite our best intentions to welcome them in, we’ve never had a quicker way to serve them delicious coffee. Now, at long last with Moment’s Notice, our first ready-to-pour coffee, we finally do.