Coffee growing & sourcing

The light side of the… roast!

| 2012-11-02

This week at Belco, we prepared a cupping, exclusively dedicated to pour over brewing methods (V60, Chemex, etc...). Why ? For a unique simple reason: as for an espresso we know that there is a special roasting profile needed, for pour over brewing there is also a special profile needed! And as always, we are very practical in what we do, let’s get the hands in coffee! What we prepared: 4 coffees, including:
  • A blend of our yellow bourbon & caturra Colombian selection (La Esperanza/La Cristalina), roasted in two different profiles, a medium roast and a light roast. To confirm the colors and not let our eyes trick us, we measured them in our colorimeter (which measures from lightest – with a value of 153- to darkest – with a value of 55- ).
The value of the light roast was 96 and the value of the medium roast was 80. Both coffees were brewed in a V60, with the same grinding/extraction time/coffee quantity/liqueur; changing only the roast.
Light roast in the background, medium roast in the front.
Light roast in the background, medium roast in the front.

... and we were precise !
... and we were precise !

  • Two coffees roasted very light: our sweet honey selection from La Esperanza and a Dominican Republic Don Jiménez.
The value of the roasting was 110 for the honey and 92 for the Dominican coffee. These coffees were brewed, the honey selection in a Chemex and the Dominican coffee in a V60.

Honey selection - color value 110
Honey selection - color value 110
Dominican Coffee - color value 92
Dominican Coffee - color value 92

These are the results:

In the first cupping, we were all convinced about the lighter coffee. While in the second cupping, all were very happy about the results obtained for coffees … so light! Why? There are mainly two principal reasons, one related specifically to the nature of the coffee and a second one, due to the extraction. I explain:

a)    When the coffee is roasted light, it can be able to develop its aromas quite well, even in an explosive sensation. The acidity is also higher. There is a point in color, that when exceeded, aromas start to decrease, and we start to develop “burn” aromas. Let’s be graphic, professor boring.



This is, of course, a very brief explanation of how acidity and aromas are developed in coffee during the roasting. To find the balance and best roasting profile, for each coffee and each extraction method, that’s the roaster’s job!

b)    Talking about the extraction… let’s remember that in each pour over method, extractions are long… very long if we put it against an espresso (30 seconds against 3 to 5 minutes can be an eternity !!!). So in a first time, that means more aromas extraction. That can be questionable, some would say “yes but the pression in an espresso machine is higher…”. But what is not questionable, is that caffeine is soluble in water, and by passing water through your coffee for a longer period, more caffeine would be extracted (that’s why a filtered coffee has more caffeine than an espresso!). And when you talk about caffeine, you talk about bitterness… what a bittersweet symphony, this coffee is! So, when you roast thinking for a pour over brewing method, try to roast lighter, between light and medium roast. It would be up to you to find the perfect balance of your roasting, for each coffee and for each extraction method! And last but not least, a question appeared concerning the syphon: what roast should be use? Why do we grind it a bit coarser? The recommended roast would be maybe not as light as for a pour over method, a medium roast would be perfect… and why do we do this grinding? It has to be coarser, because when the water descend, we need to try to have as less powder coming down as possible, and having a coarse grinding, makes half of the path!

To be continue...until the next post!

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