I frequently get asked:
"what is your roasting style?"
After the mental pain subsides, I begin to construct an answer.
What causes the pain? The certainty that what is really being asked is "do you roast dark, or light or medium?" Terms that are for the caffeine enlightened among us, inane, or at least should be.
You see by dark roast they are really asking, "do you have overdeveloped, bitter, burnt flavours in your coffee?" "Can I get perceived flavour through overwhelming & one-dimensional bitterness in order to meet my pre-conceived expectations, of what I feel coffee should be like?"
For light roast, I feel I am being asked, "are you on trend" or more precisely "Can I get weird acidity and grassy notes to reinforce my idea of what is currently On Fleek in coffee" (their term, not mine, for the record)
By medium, the underlying question is "do you play it safe" or "will you leave me to stew in my perceived happiness as I float in the warm pool of mediocrity"
Damn it! no. NO. No, Always, just no.
You see extracting flavour from coffee is a matter of a few simple yet seemingly hard to achieve things.
- Start with a green, unroasted coffee that has flavour, is interesting, and is fresh
- Completely develop those flavours by careful roasting
- find a way to make a solution with water that exhibits only those good flavours from the coffee beans
Today, I am ranting about that middle task. Fully developing those flavours.
You see, if you roast the coffee too slowly, or too light, not all of the flavours will develop, at all. The coffee will be to some extent, astringent, grassy tasting, with weird acidity and even taste baked, or mealy.
Roast too fast or dark and the opposite will occur, those flavours will overdevelop. Not a good thing. Not more flavour. Just burnt. Just like sugar that gets burnt, because that is exactly what happened. Bitterness is the result and a loss of flavour. And a loss of body. Just bad.
So our goal is to have an even development of the coffee bean. Thorough flavour development from the outside of the bean to the core, not an easy or linear feat.
It takes a relentless process, of roasting, graphing the development of the roast, cupping those coffees to look for flavour and to avoid both astringency and bitterness. To examine cutting edge techniques in roasting methodology and see how that relates to each origin roasted, and to develop a set of profiles (not a single profile) in order to constantly improve our coffee.
not too slow, not too fast, not too dark, not too light, each a subtle difference between exquisite and ok, between mediocre and shit.
We are in the business of the extraordinary. No less will ever do. And it needs to bring Joy to be Truth.
That is our roasting style.