At Maru, we love the idea that “good coffee” can mean a hundred different things to a hundred different people, we love how much space it leaves for personality, memory, and nuance. For our part, the coffees we love most aren’t the most complex or multilayered, but the ones with a distinct character, an unmistakable personality. Maybe it’s a specific fruit flavor, a syrupy mouthfeel, or it’s a little harder to place but intuitive nevertheless. You could say it’s a certain simplicity that we’re looking for, but one that’s made up of a bunch of pretty complicated factors. One of those factors is coffee variety.
Coffee varieties aren’t household names, but contrast that with the world of wine where variety is often the first thing that people think of when they decide what to drink, i.e. pinot noir, cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay, merlot. At Maru, one of our favorite ways to choose what coffees to roast and serve at is by variety. Not only are there certain varieties we especially like—pacamara, say, or bourbon—but, whenever possible, we like to offer coffees of just a single variety, whatever it may be. Most coffees are a blend of several coffee varieties in order to create the desired balance of taste. Again, it’s a little like wine: blended wines can taste fantastic, but it’s a somewhat different thing than what a clear expression of one of those grapes on its own. It’s not that we dislike coffees made up of a mix of varieties, but because single-variety coffees help us get closer to that clearly definable character we’re after, that memorable personality trait.
A lot of great roasters prize complexity in the cup, and we love to drink those coffees, but at Maru we want our coffee to focus on the expression of a singular flavor. We aren’t trying to synthesize flavor, we’re fortifying what is already present. We’re happiest when someone finishes a Maru coffee and is left with the memory of a distinct characteristic: a deep strawberry aroma, a mouthwatering caramel finish, or maybe just a feeling. It isn’t always easy. Single-variety coffees are often more expensive than varietal blends because they are harder to source but we love the pursuit of making coffee that tastes like the land, water, and hands that grew it. There’s a transparency there, a clarity of flavor, that we find irresistible. In the end, that’s what we’re hoping to share with our customers in each of the coffees we select, roast, and serve: a memorable expression of something truly special—whether they’re thinking about variety or not.