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The espresso lesson.

With all the popularity of espresso-based beverages, roasters are finding themselves roasting more and more dark roasted blends to keep up with consumer demand. Yet in the U.S., preferences differ dramatically by region, and roasters across the States are experiencing considerably diverse demands by their customers.

"The preference for dark roast is not as strong on the East Coast as on the West Coast," said Robert Williams, co-owner of Willoughby's Coffee & Tea. Located in the New York suburb of New Haven, Connecticut, Willoughby's currently offers six different varieties of dark roasted coffee.

When asked of the continued rise in consumer demand for espresso, Williams revealed his uncertainty. "The dark roast coffee that can be used for espresso machines represent about 18-20% of our sales, about the same as last year."

Yet in California, a very different story is heard as more and more West Coasters are boarding the espresso bus. Sales of dark roast are growing by about 10% per year," said Steven Leach, manager of coffee operations for S&W Fine Foods, Inc. in San Ramon, California. S&W sells pre-ground vacuum packed canned coffee to grocery stores, and currently markets a dark-roast blend for home espresso units - el Classico - which is 100% Colombian coffee.

It is interesting to note this rise of dark roast sales is in the supermarket segment. Representing the average consumer, this increase illustrates the tremendous growth specialty coffee has experienced over the past few years.

With a national distribution of well over 4,000 stores and over 70 varieties of coffee available, Millstone Coffee, Inc. located in Everett, Washington, certainly has major insight into the coffee market. According to C.J. Neilson, director of marketing for Millstone, dark roast coffee sales tend to be in the top 10%.

"Espresso is everywhere," said Neilson, who expressed that her company is currently offering more varietals and blends in the dark roasted arena.

The genesis of espresso connoisseurs

The serious espresso drinker of today, and more and more are sprouting up where you would least expect it, doesn't want just any cup of espresso planted in front of them. These passionate connoisseurs, who want to educate themselves on the different varieties and origins of their brew, are part of a whole new breed of espresso drinkers sweeping across the U.S.

Millstone Coffee, along with various other specialty roasters, is gearing their marketing to these thirsty consumers, concentrating on their education into the coffee world. According to Millstone's Neilson, consumers are now, more than ever, interested in learning more about the coffees and their origin.

"The sales of home espresso units are skyrocketing," said Neilson. Our primary concern has been to provide the consumer with coffees that perform properly in home espresso machines," and Millstone has currently put a lot of effort into their research & development department to come up with suitable blends.

Instead of customers coming in and asking for just any espresso coffee for their home machines, they are now asking for specific varieties, voicing their preference for certain countries of origin, revealed a West Coast roaster. This new, informed consumer is extremely exciting to the coffee roaster, forcing roasters across the States to better educate their customers and staff on the lesson of espresso.

Regardless of being on the East or the West Coast, good espresso can be found throughout the U.S. As more and more espresso drinkers become transformed into espresso connoisseurs, roasters across the States can expect increases in dark roast sales along with requests like, I would like a blend of 50% Brazilian Santos, 30% Tanzanian, and 20% Costan Rican for my home espresso machine." Prepare yourselves roasters, these requests could be walking in your door any minute!
COPYRIGHT 1993 Lockwood Trade Journal Co., Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:gourmet coffee gaining ground in supermarkets
Author:Boxman, Alyson R.
Publication:Tea & Coffee Trade Journal
Date:Apr 1, 1993
Previous Article:Gourmet coffee in the hills of Idaho.
Next Article:To Russia, with coffee beans.

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