Into the Light

In part 1 of this 4-part series from our Roastmaster, Paul Allen, we learned about the first distinctions of light vs. dark coffee roasting. Here, we delve a bit deeper!

The Bean Speaks

One tap on the laptop starts the roast, and a temperature/time line is plotted. Behind this line there is an older, more permanent line, from a previous roast that has been cupped blind, scored and found to be the top representative. This roast becomes the example of excellence for all roasts to come. Its place is tentative however, as it could be replaced any day by a newer profile that shows more explicitly the intricacies of this bean. We dabble in science (time and temperature inducing chemical changes in the bean) and artisanship (sound, color, experience and taste). Each discipline asks constantly: what actions lead to that elusive best cup?

Less About Trends, More about the Coffee Itself

Trends in coffee roasting have risen and fallen: dark to light, light to dark. Hopefully, the current trend is different: listening to the bean and roasting it, as Davis Tant of Portland Roasting says, “Based on its intrinsic qualities, desired flavor profile and what we know people will love, while still exalting the hard work and dedication it took to get that product into our hands in the first place.” He points out that coffee is essential to many people around the world, and that “to treat it in the mode du jour and not as a carefully cultivated harvest… is disrespectful and exploitative.”

We must remember whose interests we are protecting: we do not want to join a game where the rules are changing only the suit the spectators. Tant says, “We want to taste the inherent qualities in the coffee rather than pander to what could be considered a pendulum swing in the ever-changing coffee market.”

In Part 3 we will look at some definitions and start to see the light as to roasting profile, chemicals and taste.

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