Thursday, July 24, 2014

Coffee Lessons


My other beverage of choice is coffee (as well as tea, but that's another story). The other day I received my order of green beans and proceeded to roast a batch at home. I roast most of the coffee I drink. Purchasing green beans allows me to experience many single-origin coffees that are not available even at micro roasters, much less at the neighborhood Starbucks. However, before I could get to that experience I must be able to roast the greens properly.

Practice and too many mistakes over the past 3 years have made me quite adept at roasting. The batch I roasted this week was done close enough to optimum. It was a pound of Yemen Mokha Ismaili. On the second day after roasting, the pot I made was simply magical.

I finally realized that roasting coffee is in many ways similar to making wine, when I read the short newsletter that was inserted with my order of green beans. It mentions the following:
"There is a popular notion people have that 'strong coffee' means dark roasting. In reality, coffee is strong because you use more ground coffee when you brew, or because the coffee has well-defined flavor characteristics. Unique flavors which originate in the cultivar, the climate and the processing method of the coffee are actually more intense at lighter roast levels! Dark roasts make most coffees taste about the same, with tangy, carbony and pungent notes. One of the joys of home roasting is being able to taste the fantastic difference in coffee, from origin to origin, lot to lot." Tiny Joy July/August 2014, Sweet Maria's Coffee
As in wine, the heavier wine that got too much ripening, a lot of extraction, over manipulation, etc., etc., tastes simple and one-dimensional. Wines made this way pretty much taste the same. Thus, the terroir where the grapes are grown is totally wasted, as you can't experience it in the wine. While lighter made wines that strive for elegance are transparent and expressive; the flavors are well-delineated and show the unique character of the wine and its origin. I find this experience always enjoyable.

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