With the Flavour Savour series, Toby’s Estate Coffee Roasters aims to use innovative flavours to excite the market and draw more people into the world of specialty coffee.
Towards the end of 2020, Toby’s Estate Coffee Roasters released its limited-edition Butterscotch Pudding blend, the first entry in its Flavour Savour Series which sold out within weeks.
“Toby’s Estate hadn’t released a Christmas blend or holiday-themed product for a long time, and last year, we saw an opportunity to be creative,” says Nich Rae, Head of Coffee for Toby’s Estate Coffee Roasters.
“A big portion of the market only drinks milk-based coffee, so one of the key attributes of the product was that it had to work with milk, so it would be approachable and understandable for everyday consumers.”
To create a milk-based coffee with holiday-inspired flavours, Nich says the team knew it would need something strong, with rich fruity and whisky flavours.
“Whatever we put on the bag, the customer had to be able to taste it,” Nich says.
“We had a few coffees to play with but knew Myanmar would be part of the mix. It offered a nice mix of cherries and dark chocolate. We brought in a Brazilian coffee too, to add those classic chocolate notes, and so the flavours carry through when steamed milk is poured on top.”
Toby’s Estate is the only coffee roaster to import coffee from Myanmar into Australia and has built a wealth of experience with its flavour forward style and unique character. An El Salvador coffee finished off the blend, providing sweetness and rounding out the other two coffees.
“We didn’t have ‘butterscotch pudding’ in mind when building the bend. Instead, we created the blend with prominent unique and interesting flavours, then drank it with staff members who weren’t in coffee focused roles to see what they were tasting and how they described it,” Nich says.
“People would talk about the richness of the coffee, and how the sweetness and silkiness from the milk made it almost cake-like. We landed on butterscotch pudding as a descriptor and it just clicked with everybody.”
Butterscotch Pudding proved successful for Toby’s Estate, with National Sales Manager Carlos Escobar telling BeanScene that emphasising the flavour over the holiday connection widened its appeal.
“At Toby’s Estate one of our focuses is doing things and releasing products that excite the market and coffee drinkers,” Carlos says.
“The response to Butterscotch Pudding was super positive, and I think that’s because we approached it as a unique milk-based option, not just as a ‘Christmas blend’. It was inspired by those festive flavours, but you could still appreciate the coffee if you don’t celebrate Christmas or at other times of the year.”
He adds Butterscotch Pudding performed particularly well in the retail side of the business, with people buying the blend as a gift or for other occasions.
Following the success of Butterscotch Pudding, Toby’s Estate saw the potential a flavour-focused milk-based coffee blend could offer and set out to develop a second edition in the series.
“Many roasters bring in high-quality single origins and exotic flavour profiles for their black coffees, but very few people have access to something that’s still really different when paired with milk,” Carlos says.
“Most milk coffee blends revolve around similar profiles, so presenting flavours that are unexpected or usually unseen in coffee brings more people into specialty coffee and trying new things.”
Like with Butterscotch Pudding, Nich says developing the next Flavour Savour blend started on the cupping table.
“We try the coffee, talk about it, and use our experience and knowledge from doing this for a long time to understand what will happen when you add milk to it and how that will transform the coffee,” Nich says.
“We tasted this Colombian coffee that had gone through an interesting processing method, with some intense fruit flavours. We knew if we paired it with a Brazilian to soften the intense elements and add those classic notes, when you paired it with milk, those fruits would really shine through.”
Thus, Watermelon Cake was born, combining fruity flavours of watermelon, rose petals, and mango nectar with traditional notes like crème brulee, dark chocolate, and vanilla cake. Released in April 2021, Carlos says Watermelon Cake was able to build on the momentum started with Butterscotch Pudding.
“We let our network know we’d started working on the next in this Flavour Savour series, so there was already anticipation and hype for what was coming next,” Carlos says.
“Then, the product spoke for itself. The moment you grind that coffee, the crazy watermelon aromatics fill the café, which baristas and café owners were not used to. When trying it with milk, it was something most coffee drinkers had never experienced, which helped the cafés using Toby’s Estate to really offer a point of difference from their competitors.”
Watermelon Cake even attracted international attention, including a guest appearance at Rosslyn Coffee in the United Kingdom. Rosslyn Coffee is a renowned specialty coffee bar that rotates guest coffees from around Europe and, very occasionally, internationally.
“Rosslyn Coffee rotates coffees from the best roasters around the world, but usually stick to Europe. When they saw we had something as unique as Watermelon Cake, they approached us and were excited to share the coffee,” Carlos says. “The response in Europe was amazing, again setting Australian specialty coffee as among the best in the world.”
It’s the unique level of skill, experience, and knowledge shared across the Toby’s Estate team that, Carlos says, makes something like the Flavour Savour series possible.
“Toby’s Estate is able to do things like Watermelon Cake because of our access to exclusive coffees, thanks to direct relationships with many coffee producers. For years, we’ve had a green bean buying team purchasing coffee at origin and building those partnerships,” he says.
“From there, the expertise runs through our team of five roasters, all of whom are very experienced and are certified Q Graders. We have a very knowledgeable team that speak the same language when it comes to coffee.”
The Toby’s Estate team is currently working on its third Flavour Savour blend, with an anticipated release date in the lead up to the 2021 Melbourne International Coffee Expo in September.
While Nich can’t reveal the exact flavour profile of the upcoming blend, he confirms it will continue the “cakes and baked goods” theme of the past two releases while taking it in a new direction.
“Now that we’ve released two Flavour Savour coffees, our goal is to get the third into more cafés and build on the hype for people to want to try it and see what’s coming next,” he says.
“The way we do that is to deliver on what we say. One of the biggest challenges to introducing people to specialty coffee is when they struggle to find the tasting notes written on the bag. When we say its tastes like Watermelon Cake, you need to be able to pick up the cup and say ‘yep, I taste that’.”
With the Flavour Savour series, Nich says Toby’s Estate is bridging the gap between the general consumer and specialty coffee, making it easier for people to understand the value of coffee.
“The focus is to elevate the market. People in the industry always talk about how we need to charge more money for coffee, but we can only do that if the customer knows what they’re paying for,” Nich says.
“We want to get them excited about tasting different coffees, so when the next Flavour Savour comes out, they can taste it and get it. Then, they might ask for a single origin on milk, or even a black coffee. We want our customers to ask to experiment, and not be intimated to drink coffee.”
For more information, visit www.tobysestate.com.au
This article appears in the August 2021 edition of BeanScene. Subscribe HERE.