We at Kiss the Hippo couldn’t make great coffee without our amazing roasting team.
Since early last year, our Head Roaster, Marcus, has been taking the lead in designing profiles, listening to feedback from our roasters and baristas and deciding the final way we roast our coffees — in collaboration with our Head of Coffee, Josh.
But when Marcus and Josh set their minds to roasting coffee for our brand-new coffee pods, they knew it would be a different task to roasting coffee for espresso or filter. Here, they share some insight into their approach to crafting the perfect coffee — for the perfect coffee pods.
Hi guys. How did you approach making the new coffee pods?
Josh: We wanted to make pods that were crowd-pleasing and could easily fit into a morning routine, based around more than just getting ready for the day but starting it out incredibly. This means we approached each pod differently but with the same ethos of making them easy to love.
For the House Blend, we wanted something calm, relaxed and balanced but with enough oomph to cut through milk.
For the Classic Blend, we went for more of a nod to the traditional coffee profile. Stronger and more robust in flavour, but with a low bitterness, like those incredible cappuccinos you get in Italy. Low acidity, lots of chocolate and dark sugar notes.
Then, for the Decaf, we knew it was always one of the harder coffees. It needs to be a lot of things to everyone, so we made it balanced with a low acidity and a lot of soft, sweet notes.
How did you pick the best coffee to roast?
Josh: The short answer is that we tasted hundreds of coffees. Each year we’re tasting well over a thousand coffees to pick the 30 or so we release, and picking the coffee for the pod was the same.
Thinking about the profile we wanted in the final cup, we narrowed the search based on the origins we knew would work best and are freshest. From there, we tasted tons of lots from different farms and regions to pick the lots that already had the kinds of notes we’re looking for. That means, when we roast, it becomes all about amplifying the flavours the producer has created.
Does the coffee going into the blend affect how you roast?
Marcus: Absolutely. Each of the components present different flavour profiles which, when blended together, must work effortlessly. It’s like a jigsaw puzzle — I can either put the pieces together poorly and make a bad picture, or I can pick out the pieces with purpose and create something that works perfectly.
What’s different about roasting for pods?
Marcus: The key difference when roasting for pods is that, unlike roasting for other brew methods, the end-user has a predetermined dose and grind to work with. That means it’s my job to make sure that our coffee will taste the same across all compatible Nespresso machines.
Josh: It’s tricky. Because of how quickly a pod brews, the coffee needs to be really brittle. Then, when it’s ground, the little particles will be fine enough so that the coffee is easy to extract. This means that you roast darker than usual, but also that you want to make sure it’s sweet — so you have to really control the roasting time.
How do you make sure the coffee is roasted the same each time?
Marcus: Our Loring S15 machine has a fully customisable recipe profiler. This means we can taste a roasted batch and, if it meets all our exacting criteria, we can save and launch this profile to run fully automated. This ensures each roast is exactly the same as the last.
Josh: We then have a second program which essentially audits the first to make sure it’s running perfectly and, as a triple-check, we have our trained roasting team watching each batch as they go. We’re pretty committed to making every coffee as good as the last, and the triple-check is the way we ensure that.
From there, all the roast batches will be mixed and ground before being put into pods. This makes sure that you aren’t getting coffee from just one roast in your pod but a mix, so it’s really consistent from one coffee to the next.