Roast levels?

Hi Friends,

Wandering Prophet here. Hope this blog post finds you well. 

Let's talk about roast levels, and what you can expect from us on this front as well as how we view coffee and what our vision is when we're roasting/producing coffee.

Specialty coffee is a fairly new entry to the food and beverage arena and especially so in the "grocery" world. Thanks to the rising popularity of Third Wave Coffee shops around the globe, we as consumers, have been blessed with a bounty of coffee to choose from. So, if I'm at my local cafe, roastery or even grocery store, generally we'll see coffees with a "roast level descriptor". Those being:

Light, Medium, and Dark.

So, here's what's up. Historically - if I hit Denny's at 2am and ask for a coffee, I'm getting a dark roast. I refuse to hate on Diner coffee, or really any coffee. What you like is what you like and I won't yuck your yum. But! What our parents and grandparents grew up thinking "Is Coffee" is really but one small drop in the over roasted bucket. Most any chain restaurant that you go to will serve you some form of a dark roast. And even if they offer a regular and a dark, or a "blonde" and dark... it's all pretty dark.

And you know what. There's nothing wrong with "Dark" roasts. But coffee is a complex thing. Not all coffees should taste the same. The same can be said about all things in the food an Bev industry. Coke tastes like coke, and a no-name cola can come close, but it will never taste exactly like coke. So why should we expect beans from completely different regions of the world to taste like another? The answer is, I don't think we should. 

Enter roasting. There are multiple stages to roasting, but to simplify it we're only going to touch on a small part of roasting and talk about the "Cracks". First crack happens in and around the 200°c ballpark. First crack is generally when your coffee is "drinkable". At this point we can remove the beans from the roaster, grind them, and drink them. But are we going to like the taste? 

After first crack we enter what's called the "Development" stage of the coffee. In this stage is when the "flavour" develops. That being said a lot of what happens earlier in the roasting process also determines the flavour so this is only a small part of that, but I digress. After first crack, later into the development stage, we reach second crack. Second crack+ is where "dark" roasts exist. Before that we are in the territory of "light" and "medium". 

Now, the general rule of thumb is that the closer you are to first crack the more of the beans flavour the coffee will retain. The closer to/further beyond second crack you are, the more the flavour is lost and you start to taste the roast (meaning literally the machine roasting the coffee) rather than the bean. 

I think that all beans taste "better" (I know thats subjective) at different levels. One bean might be fantastic as a Medium. Another might shine as a Dark. I think most are wonderful at Light, but I understand that thats really more a me thing than it is a general consensus. 

So that being said. At Wandering Prophet, I want to be true to the bean. To roast to the level in which its flavours of the bean are complimented and not the roaster. Because if I roast any bean long enough, eventually they'll all taste the same. But that takes all the fun and adventure out of it. And it takes away all of the hard work that the farmers did to achieve a wonderfully unique product. So, as we expand our product range, some coffees will be closer to a Dark, some a Medium, and some a Light. It's all going to depend on when I think the coffee is the best expression of itself. 

Now, at this current juncture, we have 1 (but soon to be 2) beans in the roastery. This means that I am roasting that at different levels, light, medium, dark, to try and provide a product for as many people as possible while only having a single bean. But as we expand, and carry more beans in the warehouse, we'll strive towards the goal of being true to the bean and the intention of the people that grew it.


The Wandering Prophet.

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1 comment

Great methodology! Looking forward to your future selections, and learning more about them!


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