Micro-Roast Coffee FAQ's
Are you super confused over all the coffee terminology like; single origin, blends, arabica, robusta, city roast, french roast, acidity, and more? Let us give you some additional information that will hopefully clear up some of the confusion.
Micro-roasted coffee is coffee that is roasted in small batches to exact specifications. The batches of coffee are generally less than 150 pounds, versus the hundreds of pound roasted in each batch in commercial factories.
The factory where micro-roasted coffee is prepared is called a micro-roastery. The factory does not rely on a multitude of expensive machines and automation. The entire roasting process is overseen by one skilled individual to ensure that the coffee is roasted to perfection. This infuses the coffee beans with the greatest amount of flavor, better taste, and a higher quality product.
Even though micro-roasted coffee can be more expensive, it is unsurpassed in the taste it delivers. Many individuals that have tried coffee that is micro-roasted, find it very difficult to return to the store-bought varieties and can really tell the difference in quality. If you are looking for a great cup of flavorful coffee, micro-roasted may be the way to go.
Just as the term implies, a single origin means a single location, country, and crop for coffee beans. Coffee beans come from a variety of origins; Colombia, Costa Rica, Kenya, Indonesia, India, just to name a few. Each origin has it's own distinct climate, heat, humidity, elevation, and soil that gives each crop its own distinct flavor. Similar to a single malt scotch or single vineyard wine, or a Cuban cigar, a single origin coffee is worth a few extra dollars for the good ones.
Blends are not necessarily a bad thing either. After all, some of the best whiskeys, wines, and cigars are also a blend from various origins wrapped up into one great product. Coffee can also be blended to produce a desired flavor and taste. Mass produced coffee makers produce blends with robusta beans mixed in to save money. Robusta beans are a smaller and less quality bean than arabica beans. The taste quality of blends with robusta beans is just not the same as blends that only use high-quality ALL arabica beans as most micro-roasters do.
ARABICA & ROBUSTA:
Coffee aficionados of all levels have without a doubt heard the words “Robusta” or “Arabica”. If you aren’t familiar with either, these two terms describe the two different species of beans grown commercially. They are the same in that when harvested, roasted and eventually brewed to become that magical thing we call coffee. However, that’s where the similarities end. Robusta and Arabica differ when it comes to taste, growing environments and quality:
Robusta has a neutral to harsh taste range and is often likened to having an “oatmeal-like” taste. When unroasted, the smell of Robusta beans is described as raw-peanutty.
Arabicas, on the other hand, have a very wide taste range (depending on its varietal). The range differs from sweet-soft to sharp-tangy. When unroasted, Arabica beans smell like blueberries. Their roasted smell is described as perfumey with notes of fruit and sugar tones.
Robusta coffee beans come from a resilient plant that is able to be grown at low altitudes of 200-800 meters. Robusta beans aren’t very susceptible to damage done by pests. Additionally, they produce more finished product per acre and require fairly low production costs.
Contrariwise, Arabica coffee beans are fragile and must grow in cool, subtropical climates. Arabica beans also need a lot of moisture, rich soil, shade, and sun. Because of their fragility, Arabica beans are vulnerable to attack from various pests and can be damaged by cold temperatures or poor handling. This type of bean also needs to be grown at a higher elevation (600-2000 meters).
Which bean is better?
No contest! If you had to choose between an Arabica bean and a Robusta bean, it’s important to always choose Arabica.
Robusta fosters use mono-cropping, the practice of growing the same plant every year in one place. It yields more space since it involves clear-cutting the forest for the crop. Because Robusta is more a resilient plant than the delicate Arabica, it can be grown in more places. Large coffee companies buy huge amounts of rainforest, clear-cut the land and plant Robusta beans. Robusta is often mixed with Arabica, allowing the coffee companies to save a pretty penny and serve you a crappy cup. Not to mention, mono-cropping, when done excessively, also erodes soil and demolishes nutrients making the soil nearly unusable.
Most roasters have specialized names for their favored roasts and there is very little industry standardization. This can cause some confusion when you’re buying, but in general, roasts fall into one of four color categories — light, medium, medium-dark and dark.
Many consumers assume that the strong, rich flavor of darker roasts indicates a higher level of caffeine, but the truth is that light roasts actually have a higher concentration.
The perfect roast is a personal choice that is sometimes influenced by national preference or geographic location. Within the four color categories, you are likely to find common roasts as listed below. It’s a good idea to ask before you buy. There can be a world of difference between roasts.
Light brown in color, this roast is generally preferred for milder coffee varieties. There will be no oil on the surface of these beans because they are not roasted long enough for the oils to break through to the surface.
- CPO (Battleship Beanery)
- Light City
- Half City
This roast is medium brown in color with a stronger flavor and a non-oily surface. It’s often referred to as the American roast because it is generally preferred in the United States.
- SCPO (Battleship Beanery)
Medium Dark Roast
Rich, dark color, this roast has some oil on the surface and with a slight bittersweet aftertaste.
- MCPO (Battleship Beanery)
- Full City
This roast produces shiny black beans with an oily surface and a pronounced bitterness. The darker the roast, the less acidity will be found in the coffee beverage. Dark roast coffees run from slightly dark to charred, and the names are often used interchangeably — be sure to check your beans before you buy them!
- MCPON (Battleship Beanery)
- New Orleans
Aroma is the fragrance of brewed coffee, often distinctive and complex. Terms used to describe the aroma, or bouquet, include caramel (candy or syrup), carbon (for dark roasts), chocolate, fruit, floral, malt (cereal), rich, round and spicy.
Acidity refers to the liveliness or sharpness the coffee leaves on your palate. Because coffee is considered neutral in acid, the term ‘acidity’ refers to taste rather than a level of acid.
Body refers to the weight of the coffee on one’s tongue. It can be described as the feeling or consistency that coffee leaves in your mouth.
Flavor refers to the overall taste of coffee. It is the total impression of aroma, acidity, and body. Flavor also is used to acknowledge specific characteristics like spice, fruit, nut and chocolate notes.
Coffees that are rich and oily in flavor and texture, such as Sulawesi, lending a full smooth taste.
Coffees that have many characteristics and a variety of depth.
An herbal, musty or mushroom-like range of flavors characteristic of Indonesian coffees.
Coffees exhibiting unusual & complex flavor, such as East African coffees.
A sweet, fragrant aroma or smell characteristic of Ethiopian coffees.
A taste that is reminiscent of roasted nuts, often descriptive of Vienna Roasts.
Coffee with a very full body taste, flavor and a high degree of aroma.
An aromatic sensation in the coffee’s aftertaste with a hint of mesquite-like smoke used to describe French Roast.
Descriptive of low-acid coffees characterized by the absence of any unpleasant or predominant tastes. Soft coffees, are also described as mellow, include Costa Rican and Mexican coffees.
An aroma or flavor in the coffee’s aftertaste that recalls a particular spice. It could be a hint of cinnamon, clove, pepper or a cedar cigar box, often found in Indonesian coffees.
A desirable flavor quality that has characteristics of fine red wines. (Kenya).