How do you shop for coffee? Do you think about the roast? Are you partial towards a certain region? Do you like coffees with nutty undertones and avoid citrusy ones? Or maybe you only buy dry-process Ethiopian coffees from the Guji Zone of the Oromiaregion at 1800m of elevation or higher roasted very light, so the origin comes out and bitterness of the coffee is in the backyard barely noticeable? And you thought the person in front of you at Starbucks had a complicated order.
I'm sure that you've seen notes on our website about how 'We don't roast until you want it." or "Roasted Fresh After You Order", but have you thought about why and how we setup our business to do that?
Have you ever heard of a fluid bed coffee roaster? How about a drum roaster? Do you remember the terms endothermic and exothermic reactions from chemistry/thermodynamics classes? If not, that's fine... I'll give you the highlights.
To start a discussion on coffee processing, I have to start with the ten steps to take coffee from seed to a cup. When I first learned there were ten steps, I thought, "Grow, roast, grind, brew. What else could there be?" As discussed on National Coffee Association's website they are as follows:
There are a bunch of certifications when it comes to coffee production. Today, I just want to look at four key ones. I've chosen these four because they are the most talked about and the only ones that we as a coffee business have paid attention to.
Cold Brew coffee; isn't that a new catchphrase? You hear it everywhere, and it has a bunch of definitions. I've seen Hario iced pour overs called cold brew (I call those iced coffees). I've seen some weird bottled drink that tastes awful called a cold brew. I've also seen an iced Toddy called cold brew.
I'm going to start by saying, these couple of paragraphs are not going to give you nearly enough information about coffee cupping. I'm basically going to tell you some of what I use to make my images and descriptions.
As I have been trying to determine what blog posts to write, I think back on questions I'm asked or conversations I've had with customers over the years. One of the most common conversations that I have had is with people that love 'dark' roasted coffee. Typically this type of person thinks that oily beans and dark roasts are synonymous. This leads to a perception that bolder coffees are darker roasted or that dark oily beans are perfect for espresso. I have to say, these views are so widely held, you'd think they were 100% true. However, they aren't... they're close, but there is more to it than that.
Before I started selling coffee online, I was a home roaster. I typically would buy coffee from Sweet Marias each month. I'd buy enough of each varietal to roast it 3 or 4 times and then move on. Part of the fun was learning about new coffees and figuring out what roast profile I liked for each country or process. I developed a skill and had fun doing it. So I started selling coffee to friends and family. That lead to starting Sagebrush Coffee. However, I quickly found that I was losing customers because I continued the practice of changing out my inventory on a regular basis. So I changed to a direct trade supplier to get more consistency in my offerings and quite frankly, the coffee was way better.