Coffee is a complex product that involves cultivation, hand or machine picking, pulping, fermentation, washing, drying, removing the parchment, sorting, grading and shipping long distances. This is all before it gets to the roaster.
The only way to find quality coffees is order, roast, and taste samples from various lots and regions. We require these samples before we purchase any of our coffees. Samples are roasted in small 2-4 oz batches sometimes at slightly different temperatures to clearly determine the end result we can expect from the coffee. Once approved, the coffee is either selected as a single orgin or as a component in one of our blends. Many good coffees have unique characteristics that may add complexity and depth to a blend, but may also be missing something to stand on its own as a great coffee. We think of a blend of coffees much like an orchestra; each section offering something to the whole experience. Some single origins may perhaps be similar to only the woodwinds, for example.
Roasting the coffee is one of the final steps before it can be enjoyed. The way in which coffee is roasted can have a profound effect on its taste. Roast too quickly at too high a temperature, and you’ll scorch the exterior of the bean. Roast too slowly at too low a temperature, and you’ll slowly bake away the flavor of the bean. Most roasting methods include the following six phases:
- Drying Cycle: This is the first phase of the roasting process, when the temperature of the beans rises to 100 degrees centigrade. Also in this phase, the beans change from a bright green color to a pale yellow. This initial stage is surprisingly significant in the final quality or the coffee. We have noticed as little as a half degree F. in the drying temperature substantially change the outcome of the final flavor.
- First Crack: When the beans reach approximately 160 degrees centigrade, the chemical reaction between the heat and the coffee beans creates a very noticable crackling sound.
- Roast Initiation: The beans swell to 140 – 160% of their initial size. Sugars within the beans begin to caramelize, giving the beans their brown color.
- Pause: In this phase, the crackling subsides, however the chemical reactions within the coffee bean continue. The control of heat will determine some of the flavor characteristics as well as the time till the next phase.
- Second Crack: The beans give up the last of their moisture and a get brittle, which creates a new crackling sound. This is critical stage that can be the difference between strong coffees with good body, character, and a sweet finish or dark coffee with a strong roast flavor.
- Stopping the Roast: Once the optimal roast time and temperature is achieved, the beans are immediately expelled from the roaster and cooled with large volumes of air. Stopping the roast quickly is important.