We’ve all been a bit excited recently, about the arrival of our new kid on the block, The Staff Pick. And it’s had us reminiscing about how our house blend and all-round favourite, Feeling Woolly, came to be. So here’s the story…
Today, Feeling Woolly is a 5-bean blend, with smooth, lingering notes of dark chocolate, honey and malt.
It has a medium roast profile, with a long roast development time to bring out the richness and sweetness from the beans. It’s got a nice, balanced acidity and it smells of sweet apricot and stone fruit.
But back when Black Sheep was a single, stainless steel cart at the Rocklea Markets, Mark was working hard to come up with the perfect blend. Playing with different combinations, origins, and aromas, he says it was like they were “creeping up on it.”
“There were quite a few variations that were close but maybe just missing something,” Mark recalls. “Then it was a matter of figuring out what was missing, putting that in and going, okay, that’s going to be closer.”
The most important thing was to make sure there was “depth” on milk.
“The majority of our customers buy a latte, a cappuccino, or a flat white,” he says. “So it had to have a depth of flavour and a body.
“The flavour had to be rich and full, so it’s not like a watery mouth feel but it coats and fills the mouth; it has a fullness and a richness and a good aftertaste. You can have that body and richness but have a bad aftertaste and that kills the whole lot.”
Katie says tasting coffee is similar to tasting wine. “You’ll get different flavour notes on different parts of the tongue. If you’ve got coffee that’s too light, too fruity, it ends up tasting like milk with lemons in it.”
Almost like a curdle. Or it ends up too acidic; super thin and watery. It can give you a dry feeling at the back of your mouth, or in some cases, it’s so watery, all you end up tasting is milk.
“It needs to be rich and cut through the volume of milk,” she says.
Along with family and friends, Katie was Mark’s number one taste-tester in the process.
“There were certain ones that Mark had done that you’d go, oh the middle palate’s really lovely but it’s just a bit flat on the back. Or the front was really gorgeous and the back was nice but there was nothing really carrying it through that middle. The aftertaste was divine but nothing in the middle.”
So Mark kept tinkering and then…
“It was a bit of a lightning, eureka moment,” says Katie of what we now know as our Feeling Woolly blend. “It’s got a lovely fruitiness on the front; a sweet stone fruit acidity. And it has these beautiful spice notes down the side of the tongue. Rich dark chocolate and malt flavours.
“It ticked all the boxes. The customers really liked it. It was great to work with. The aroma was beautiful and you really just kind of went with it.”
And we’ve gone with it ever since.