Toby’s Estate on why its time to challenge perceptions, alter mindsets and recalibrate our tastebuds.
Early this year, Toby’s Estate launched the first volume of Shift, a limited edition series all about challenging perceptions and changing coffee experiences.
It is not the quick and habitual coffee drinking experience you might be accustomed to. Shift involves tasting curated coffees roasted to engage, push, and stretch the senses and what you thought you knew about coffee.
Shift is the brain child of Former Toby’s Estate Managing Director Cosimo Libardo, Toby’s Estate Green Bean Buyer Toby Charlotte Malaval, and Toby’s Estate Head Roaster Nicholas Rae.
Those who experienced the first volume of Shift received three mysterious and unidentifiable coffees. Only one would contain Brazilian beans, but with each carefully sealed in black bags, there was no way of knowing which.
Toby’s Estate’s in-house creative Melissa So designed the packaging concept: a simple box-shape that is designed to be beautiful and tactile, created not to distract but put the focus back on the coffee.
“We wanted to keep the design simple, yet with an edge to draw people into the experience that is Shift,” says Toby’s Estate’s Meredith Young.
Volume one is about changing the perception of Brazilian coffee. It isn’t the most popular in the specialty coffee scene, and is precisely why it was chosen. Meredith says just having three bags of Brazilian coffee would be “too easy”, and given the nature of the Shift game, Toby’s Estate really wanted to flex customer expectations and perspectives around Brazilian coffee.
“Shift is designed to challenge and change consumers perspectives and expectations around different specialty coffee tendencies. We put the focus on origin this round as we discovered some of the most exquisite and complex Brazilian coffees. These coffees were so far removed from the perception of Brazilian coffees – heavy and robust with the general flavour profile of chocolate and nuts – that we had to find a way to not only celebrate these coffees, but change the consumer’s understanding of what’s possible at origin,” Meredith says.
With that said, all that’s left to do is brew, preferably with a Kalita filter brewer. The recommended recipe of each coffee includes a 15-gram dose to 240 grams of water, a medium grind setting, a pour time of 1.40 minutes, and extraction time of 2.10 minutes. Then it’s up to the coffee to do the work, and let your tastebuds evaluate what they’re enjoying.
Users are invited to use a provided scratch card to see if what they taste matches up to a particular origin, or are completely surprised by the outcome.
Shift is designed for the intermediate and experienced brewer. To change perceptions, Meredith says there needs to be a base level of understanding around coffee tendencies. With only 33 grams of coffee per bag, you don’t have many chances to brew each of the coffees.
“So it’s key that you take your time, understand what you’re doing when brewing the coffee and then contemplate the cup while drinking,” Meredith says.
Shift has ended up in the hands of some of the industry’s biggest heavy hitters – just check Toby’s Estate’s Instagram for proof – with overall feedback “incredible”.
“It really put people to the test and it was great to see it achieve the main aim of challenging people’s perceptions around Brazil’s capability as an origin,” says Meredith.
Toby’s Estate hopes to launch a new volume of Shift in the coming months.
“The concept behind Shift isn’t so much about focusing on origin. It’s about exploring the how and why behind what we do not just as a roaster, but as an industry,” Meredith says. “It’s really about pushing the boundaries and challenging the perceptions. While we can’t tell you too much about the next volume of Shift, what we can tell you it’s going to start a few conversations or heated debates.”
Keep an eye on the Toby’s Estate Facebook and Instagram pages to hear about Shift Volume 2.