While a lot of coffee flavor comes from where it’s grown and how it’s post-harvest processed, the bulk of its distinctive qualities come from roasting. The heat of the roasting process breaks down sugars and amino acids into carbon dioxide, which makes it easier for aromatics to escape.
The best artisan roasters use this technique to their advantage. They’re meticulous at every stage of the process, from bean sourcing to handsome packaging.
Using a wood-fired roaster, Chef Bob’s Artisan roast coffee is small batch roasted and free of chemicals, fillers and dyes. This allows for better flavor and a more natural finish in the cup.
Large scale commercial roasting often prioritizes uniformity and consistency across enormous batches, which can mask the individual qualities of each bean. Small batch roasting, on the other hand, encourages creativity and artistry, allowing for a wide range of coffee flavors that celebrate the natural complexities of each unique bean origin.
When roasting artisan coffee, it’s crucial to use high-quality beans that have been carefully selected from single-source suppliers. This ensures that the resulting brew will be full of fantastic tasting hints that you can’t get from blending different kinds of beans. Likewise, it’s important to roast the beans evenly and to stop the process when the greens begin to look and smell a bit burned (rather than when a timer or thermometer tells you to). This type of attention to detail is what makes artisan coffee so distinct.
If you are a coffee connoisseur, chances are that you have seen the words “single origin” beautifully lettered on your local café’s chalk board or on some trendy Instagrammer’s feed. Single-source is more than just a buzzword though, it refers to beans that come from one specific place (or even just a small portion of a farm, such as a micro-lot or nano-lot).
This means the taste and quality of the coffee are directly influenced by the growing conditions and techniques used on the particular farm where the coffee was grown. It is akin to the terroir concept in wine, and the result is a delicious cup of coffee that highlights all of its unique, exotic flavors.
Unlike blends, which combine beans from multiple places to achieve the desired flavor profile, single-origin is always rooted in one specific place and is the epitome of quality and dedication to the craft. It is a great alternative to mass-produced blends that can have bland, flavorless tasting notes.
Expert roasting involves a delicate balance of time and temperature that creates different flavour characteristics. This requires a high level of skill and training that takes years to master. Expert roasters are able to “read” the beans, and can make decisions with split-second timing – the difference between perfectly roasted coffee and a disastrous batch is sometimes a matter of seconds.
During the roasting process, organic compounds in the coffee transform into hundreds of aroma and flavour compounds. These change the innate qualities of the beans. The best roasters know how to enhance the beans’ natural flavours and hide unwanted elements.
The best way to develop your roasting skills is to experiment with single-origin coffees and small batches, and take detailed notes. Once you’ve developed a profile that you love, use it consistently with your coffee. This will help you avoid ROR flicks, baked coffee, and other roast defects.
Most coffee beans start to lose their full flavor profile just a few weeks after roasting. When you buy from an artisan roaster, your coffee will be at its peak freshness.
A fresh coffee has more of the flavors and aromas that make coffee so special. It also has less of the fatty and bitter compounds that can overwhelm the flavor.
Many artisan roasters focus on single-source coffees that are grown and harvested in specific regions. This allows them to capture the unique hints that are often lost when coffee is sourced from multiple locations.
Artisan roasters care about the quality of their product and want to deliver the best possible experience. This translates into attentive service and high-quality ingredients. A quick comparison of a grocer’s coffee and an artisan roaster will illustrate the difference in attention to detail and customer satisfaction. The artisan coffee will be smoother and have more of the nuances that are often missed in the chain stores.