We are pleased to introduce you to a new offering in our lineup — the result of more than six months of research and development (and hundreds of test shots pulled). We’ve dubbed it Bare-Knuckle Espresso, and it presents some rather unique characteristics. It’s a show-stopping espresso with notes of blueberry muffin, marzipan, and cocoa. Indulge us for a brief moment as we take you through our thought process as it happened.
We tested no small number of coffees as single-origin espressos thinking that we’d eventually arrive at one that, when roasted with the ideal profile, would come out just right. We did find a certain Colombian selection — Inza Cauca — that gave us almost everything we had daydreamed about for Bare-Knuckle Espresso. We were moments away from declaring it officially perfected when, at the last moment, one of our crew members asked, “Hey — what if we tried just one shot with some of ‘The Don’ thrown in?” “The Don” was a reference to our award winning Nicaragua Gold Mountain “The Don’s Tutti Frutti.” It’s a coffee so special that the thought of at least trying a shot that included it was a no-brainer.
One shot turned into two, and then three, and on and on we went. We were incredulous at the flavors pumping out of the espresso machine with these two very lightly roasted coffees. Both are roasted to just barely into the “city” range (if you’re inclined to use that terminology). They are, without a doubt, two of the lightest roasted coffees we’ve ever put out. So, how on earth could this possibly be anything but one of those crazily acidic espressos that makes your mouth pucker before it even hits your lips? Ah, that’s all in the roasting style as well as the inherent properties of these two coffees.
What we have in Bare-Knuckle Espresso is one of the lightest roasted espressos that you will ever encounter — and this allows for a certain “fresh” experience with the fruit notes and delicate nuances; and yet, it manages to avoid the pucker effect. This is exactly what we were aiming for when we set out to develop our “crown jewel” of espressos six months ago. It’s beautiful as a straight espresso, and it punches right through the milk to give you lovely cortados, cappuccinos, and lattes.
So, what’s up with the name and the artwork? We named Bare Knuckle Espresso in honor of Richmond-born Tom Molineaux, a fascinating man born as a slave right here in Richmond, Virginia in 1784. Molineaux grew up to become a prolific boxer (all bare-knuckle at that time). He eventually earned his owner a large sum of money in winnings on bets, was granted his freedom, and moved to England where he expected to be able to earn money as a professional boxer.
He did have some success in the succeeding years, but never attained the wealth he had hoped for. Sadly, he died penniless — but free — in Galway, Ireland in 1818. That not withstanding, we are proud to honor the memory and legacy of a Richmond original — a man born into the ugliness of slavery who made his mark in his own way.
We are so thrilled with this espresso that we commissioned some magnificent t-shirts and posters (printed by the local firm Triple Stamp Press) bearing the Bare-Knuckle Espresso artwork. The posters are especially intended for any establishments (cafes, bakeries, restaurants, etc.) who choose to serve their guests this delicious espresso. It’s a bold statement that you desire to provide a unique and thoughtful experience with your espresso drinks lineup. The posters and t-shirts may strike up nearly as many conversations as the espresso itself.
If you are an owner or an employee of a café that would like to put it through the paces at your own place, we’re always happy to send out samples — just give us a shout. If you are an avid home barista who enjoys espresso a bit “off the beaten path” with fresh flavors, a balanced profile, and not a trace of the smoke you’d typically find in the majority of espressos, this will be right up your alley.