Toby’s Estate Coffee Roasters has released the third volume of its Shift series, this time featuring hybrid coffee varieties.
The Shift series challenges preconceived notions surrounding specialty coffee. Volume 1 aimed to change perceptions of coffee quality from different producing countries, Brazil in particular, while Volume 2 focused on roasting techniques.
“Shift Volume 3 is shining a light on the future of coffee purchasing and the opportunities available to green bean buyers,” says Toby’s Estate Head of Coffee Nich Rae.
“The diamond in the rough requires an understanding of the market and different concerns at origin. Volume 3 is helping us to highlight this.”
The impact of climate change is posing numerous challenges for the coffee industry. One of the biggest concerns is the potential extinction of one particular species: Coffea arabica.
One way of making coffee plants more resistant is to create more genetic diversity. Arabica is more susceptible to pest, disease, and climate change, than Robusta.
This means it is more important than ever to look at stronger, more resistant varieties such as Timor Hybrids – a spontaneous cross between Arabica and Robusta species.
Unfortunately, while Robusta is a hardy coffee species that offers good yield and high resistance, it has a generally less appealing and more bitter flavour profile.
“When those hybrids are produced, processed, and roasted with a focus on quality, they can really be as delicious as some of the most expensive Arabica coffees,” Toby’s Estate Green Bean Buyer Charlotte Malaval says.
“Giving value and attention to Catimor and Sarchimor hybrids will allow us to support emerging producing regions for specialty coffee. It will help and inspire young generations of coffee producers as well as our customers, because it is the demand for single origins and high quality that helps to drive meaningful changes at origin and in our consumption habits.”
With Shift Volume 3, Toby’s Estate asks if it’s possible to produce hybrids that are able to achieve increased cupping scores, higher yields, and disease/pest resistance.
“All volumes of Shift are passion projects for our team right now and this volume speaks to the growing risks at origin and how we need to adapt,” Nich says.
In this volume of Shift, Toby’s Estate has included three bags of coffee, two of which are Timor Hybrid crosses and one is 100 per cent Arabica.
Brewers are not told which is which, and the challenge is to taste all three and try to determine which two are hybrids.
“Shift Volume 3 is our opportunity to speak to the pointy end of the industry. It’s focused on origin, our relationships, and the understanding of our impact, which is why we want to share it with everyone,” Charlotte says.
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