Introducing The Sweet Maria’s 10 Speed Blend

A custom blend with versatility in mind, the Sweet Maria’s 10 Speed Blend works great on all gears.

Our Sweet Maria’s 10 Speed Blend celebrates the classic lines and versatility of this timeless bicycle by offering similar tenets in flavor form. We’ve used coffees from very high altitudes that can be roasted light or dark, and that show well under any brew method or as espresso. You could say it’s a blend that works great in any gear!

Coffee and cycling have enjoyed a decades long connection that likely stretches back well before the early days of coffee company-sponsored cycling events (see FAEMA professional cycling team of the late 1960’s). Whether it’s coffee’s burst of caffeine energy before the ride, or winding down with an espresso at the end of a tour, coffee has been a sort of touchstone for bringing together cyclists at 2-wheeled events and casual excursions.

For this blend, we use coffees from similar altitudes to aid in roast consistency, something that can be especially tricky when roasting pre-blended coffee light. We’re looking to regions in East Africa and Central America for dense coffees that are classic-toned, show balanced sweet and bittering flavors, and impart some acidity too. The latter part can be snappy at City, or integrated into tangy bittersweetness at Full City. Don’t be afraid to shift through a few different roast levels to find the perfect cruising gear that suits your taste!

We’ve had a lot of fun roasting this blend, testing multiple roast levels and on many machines. It’s meant having a lot of roasted output too, which has been great for soliciting feedback from co-workers, and friends.

Roasting in the Poppo Air Popper

Most of what we’ve brewed in-house has been from the Poppo hot air roaster. Roasts from this high powered air roaster move rather quickly, yet it somehow manages to achieve magical middle and dark roasts. To be fair, it’s hardly “magic”. Rather, the roast evenness has to do with the custom agitation sleeve that Tom designed.

Here’s some roasting notes from the two best passes, both at maximum capacity, and roasted to around Full City. Looking at the numbers, you’ll notice that the watt ratings are different. That’s because we lowered the wattage of Roast 2 with a voltage controller in the hopes of drawing out the roast time a bit. We also wanted to replicate what kind of results someone could expect if they were roasting on an extension cord that chokes the power.

Poppo Roast 1:Poppo Roast 2:
Wattage:1400wWattage:1200w
Air Temp:65°FAir Temp:66°F
Starting Weight:110gStarting Weight:110g
Ending Weight:92.5gEnding Weight:93.4g
First Crack:3:00First Crack:3:00
Drop:4:20Drop:4:10
Percent Loss15.90%Percent Loss:15.00%

Interestingly enough, the 200 watt difference did not make much of an impact on the roast profile. The roast times were nearly identical, and weight losses also very close. As you can see, the roasted coffee was very even, and very close in color too (Roast 1 is a very slight shade darker).

Side-by-side comparison of two Poppo roasts of our Sweet Maria's 10 Speed Blend.
Side-by-side comparison of two Poppo roasts of our Sweet Maria’s 10 Speed Blend.

We brewed a few batches for our crew, and feedback was all very positive. the unifying theme was that it’s a very approachable coffee at this roast level, bittersweet with subtle nuanced flavor notes. Body was described as heavy, and round, and flavors ranged from bittersweet to punchy, with accents of toasted malt, and brown sugar. Two comments that really reaffirmed we’d hit the mark, was that the coffee was “really easy to drink” and that they could drink multiple cups (I believe they said, “I could drink a lot of this” to be exact)!

Roasting in the Behmor 2000 AB Plus

The Behmor was an obvious choice for roasting this blend. It’s one of the most widely used home roasters we sell. It’s also capable of the whole range of roast degrees, making it a great candidate for testing light and dark roasts.

I followed a pretty similar profile for both of my roasts, sticking to P5 manual mode for the duration. I also limited my batch sizes to 240 grams of green, which is about 50% of max capacity. To a point, lowering batch size will cause a roast to progress faster, making it an easy way to impact roast development.

The only differences between these roasts are pre-heat time/temp, and development time after 1st Crack was underway. You can see in the charts below that a higher pre-heating temp made a pretty significant impact on overall roast time.

When looking at my roasting charts, keep in mind that the “Time” column reflects how much time has progressed. The Behmor timer counts down, which can make things a little confusing. 1 minute on the chart = 17:00 on the LED, 2 minutes = 16:00, and so on.

Behmor 2000 AB – Dark Roast
*240 grams in, 204 gram out = 15%
*Preheat for 3:00 to 175F
*P5 manual mode entire roast w/ fast drum speed
TimeChamber Temp FExhaust Temp FNotes
120089
221589
323389
425389
527189yellow
628489
729889tan
8289181fan kicked in 7:30
9262224
10253237
112492441C at 11:10
12249248
13249248
14249248Drop 13:50, a few 2nd snaps in drum

With the darker roast profile above, I was able to stick to P5 manual mode the entire roast without any issues of bumping up against the over temp shutdown error that occurs at 325 F. First Crack sounded nice and gentle, and had a clearly delineated end. 2nd Crack started about 45 seconds after 1st Crack ended, at which point, I engaged the cooling cycle.

I preheated the light roast below to a much higher temperature in order to push the roast a little faster. And that it did, hitting 1st Crack almost 2 full minutes sooner than my Full City+ roast. My light roast also came very close to reaching the overtemp shutdown, but the exhaust fan saved me at the 7:30 mark!

Behmor 2000 AB – Light Roast
*240 grams in, 207.7 gram out = 13.5% loss
*Preheat for 5:00 to 250F
*P5 manual mode entire roast w/ fast drum speed
TimeChamber Temp FExhaust Temp FNotes
123789
224889
326289yellow
427589
528789
630089tan
731189
8298294
92682801st C 9:15
10258246Drop 10:45

With light roasts, I prefer shortening the roast time as much as the Behmor allows in order to highlight acidity, which the Sweet Maria’s 10 Speed Blend is quite capable of producing. That was not my intention with the darker roast. I think extending the drying and middle roast stages helped develop sweetness, round off acidity, and also kept 1st Crack from getting away from me.

Both roasts not only looked lovely, but they tasted very nice at the cupping table too. While the lighter roast looked City from the exterior, it had the bittersweetness of a shade darker development. That’s often the case with roasts from the Behmor, as it tends to have some “roast coast” due to cooling your coffee in the roasting chamber.

When you start the cooling cycle, the heaters turn off and fan kicks in to pull hot air from the roasting chamber. But it takes time to bring down the temperature, and the roast continues to develop for a short time beyond the start of that cycle. Because of this, I always start cooling my roast 30 seconds or so from my roast target in anticipation of this phenomena. I also open the door about a minute into the cooling cycle to help cool the roast faster, but not everyone wants chaff blowing around the room!

Side by side comparison of our Behmor roasts.
Side by side comparison of our Behmor roasts, City+ at left, and Full City+ on the right.

The lighter roast showed a nice balanced sweetness, and brought out an acidic impression of black tea with lemon that was mouth refreshing. There was also a nice background flavor of cocoa that gains a little momentum in the afteraste. This roast works very well in filter drippers, where the clean acidity is highlighted without stealing the show. Immersion brewing will likely round that off a bit, and bring out this blend’s bittersweetness and body.

Full City+ yielded intense roast flavors, and the sufficient sweet notes helped string together profiles of dark chocolate bar, and Dutch cocoa. The finish had some smokiness to it, like roasted cocoa nibs, but also presented an unexpected dark fruit hint that had a slight grape aspect.

Pulling a ristretto shot of the Sweet Maria's 10 Speed Blend.
Pulling a ristretto shot of the Sweet Maria’s 10 Speed Blend on my Rocket espresso machine.

I pulled a few shorter shots with the dark roast at 3 days rest. My ratio was 18 grams in, 15 grams out. The liquor was syrupy in texture, with indelible bittersweet chocolate flavors, creamy ganache, and a mild tart berry note that was folded into a long-lasting flavor of dark drinking chocolate. It’s really complete on its own, but also made an excellent cappuccino!

Roasting in Popper is a Coffee Roaster

Popper is a Coffee Roaster – Light Roast
*100 grams in, 88 gram out = 12% loss
TimeDial PositionWatts (approx)Notes
112:00650
212:00650yellow 2:30
31:00850
41:00850tan 4:00
52:001050
62:0010501C 5:55
71:00850
81:00850Drop 7:55

Light roasts are a strength of Popper is a Coffee Roaster, so I planned to take the Sweet Maria’s 10 Speed Blend to City roast from the get-go. You can see I stuck to pretty evenly spaced adjustments every 2 minutes, first increasing power at 2 and 4 minutes, then decreasing at 6 minutes as to avoid hitting the high temperature safety feature. We’ve seen some variance in that threshold from one roaster to the next, so I recommend pulling back on heat whenever you normally would to keep your roaster from cutting out.

A light City roast of the Sweet Maria's 10 Speed Blend from Popper is a Coffee Roaster.
A light City roast of the Sweet Maria’s 10 Speed Blend from Popper is a Coffee Roaster.

At just 12% weight loss post-roast, this is a City roast. Even in this super light roast, you can see how even the roast coloring is, which I found pretty impressive for pre-blended green.

The acidity level in the cup was bracing, with a lemon note brightening up the flavor profile. Sweetness came into its own as the coffee cooled off some, and exhibited flavors of simple syrup made with raw sugar, along with hints of honey and buckwheat.

The Sweet Maria’s 10 Speed Blend is a timeless classic

We created the Sweet Maria’s 10 Speed blend after seeing a gap in our blend list, and a need for a true dual-use option. Sweet at any roast level, with flavors that are approachable and crowd pleasing, this blend really hits the mark.

Of all the roasts, the lighter Popper and Behmor roast were what I reached for to brew my regular morning pour over. They were light and bright, but still very sweet. Perfect for a filter drip, or iced coffee for that matter. But for espresso, the Full City+ roast was a no brainer.

Try several roasts for yourself to find out which ‘gear’ works best for you!

Check out the Sweet Maria’s 10 Speed Blend

Take home the 10 Speed design on our mugs, t-shirts, and cupping spoons!

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