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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Roasting Your Own Green Coffee Beans

Question:

The beans I'm using now are Brazillian and they are right up my alley. I have tried a few other beans that I did not like nearly as much. I don't know forsure that it was because of the origin, it may possibly just be that they were lower quality beans (the other varieties that I did not like were from a different vendor than the one I have been buying the Brazillian beans from, and they may just have inferior QC. The thing I like about these is that the coffee is always incredibly clean and smooth, without ever having even the slightest hint of bitterness no matter how much coffee I pile into a cup. Would you say that the smooth clean flavor is consistent with Brazillian beans in general, or is it more likely that the other beans that I tried and found to be too bold and slightly bitter (at the same roast level) were infeiror?

Answer:

yes, 2 major factors in bitterness, quality of the bean and how it was roasted. The type of "roaster" you are using makes it difficult to stay consistent and if it roasts at too low a temp and is "baked" it can make it more bitter. The quality has a lot of factors - some of the main factors are elevation it was grown on, how it was grown, how old the beans are, the soil used, the sun light etc. - all these play into it. Robusta for example and lower elevation Arabica will be more bitter...the opposite would be a Jamaica Blue Mountain which is 6K above sea level and is one of the smoothest cups of coffee on the planet (and you need to be very careful where you buy those beans....only 3 exporters can sell them legally and from the actual JBM coffee plantations - and with coffee you need to be very careful when buying beans)

This is our upcoming FAQ Section, which will cover all termonology etc. that is fit for print. 

Origin - Single-origin coffee is coffee grown within a single known geographical origin. Sometimes this is a single farm,  or a specific collection of beans from a single country.

Region -Coffee trees produce their best beans when grown at high altitudes in a tropical climate where there is rich soil.  Such conditions are found around the world in locations along the Equatorial zone, between latitudes 25 degrees North and 30 degrees South.
    
Besides location, other factors affect the quality and flavor of coffee. These include the variety of the plant, the chemistry of the soil in which it is grown, the weather, particularly the amount of rainfall and sunshine, and the precise altitude at which the coffee grows. Such variables -- combined with the way the cherries are processed after being picked -- contribute to the distinctions between coffees from countries, growing regions and plantations worldwide. The combination of factors is so complex, that even from a single plantation one finds variation in quality and taste.Coffee is grown in more than 50 countries around the world

Variety - Coffee beans from different places may have distinctive characteristics such as flavor (flavor criteria include terms such as "citrus-like" or "earthy"), caffenecontent, body or mouthfeel, and acidity. These reflect the local environment where the coffee plants are grown, their method of process, and the genetic subspecies. In this sense, coffee can be considered similar to wine, which also demonstrates clear regional variation.

Process -

Once the coffee has been picked, processing must begin as quickly as possible to  prevent spoilage.  Depending on location and local resources, coffee is processed in  one of two ways.

The Dry Method    
This is the age-old method of processing coffee and is still used in many countries  where water resources are limited. The freshly picked cherries are simply spread  out on huge surfaces to dry in the sun. In order to prevent the cherries from  spoiling, they are raked and turned throughout the day, then covered at night, or if  it rains, to prevent them from getting wet. Depending on the weather, this process  might continue for several weeks for each batch of coffee. When the moisture  content of the cherries drops to 11 percent, the dried cherries are moved to  warehouses where they are stored             

wetwash
Wet method processing

The Wet Method
In wet method processing, the pulp is removed from the coffee cherry after  harvesting and the bean is dried with only the parchment skin left on.  There are  several actual steps involved. First, the freshly harvested cherries are passed  through a pulping machine where the skin and pulp is separated from the bean.  The pulp is washed away with water, usually to be dried and used as mulch. The  beans are separated by weight as they are conveyed through water channels, the  lighter beans floating to the top, while the heavier, ripe beans sink to the bottom.

Next they are passed through a series of rotating drums which separate them by size.

After separation, the beans are transported to large, water-filled fermentation tanks. Depending on a combination of factors -- such as the condition of the beans, the climate and the altitude -- they will remain in these tanks for anywhere from 12 to 48 hours. The purpose of this process is to remove the slick layer of mucilage (called the parenchyma) that is still attached to the parchment; while resting in the tanks, naturally occurring enzymes will cause this layer to dissolve. When fermentation is complete the beans will feel rough, rather than slick, to the touch.  At that precise moment, the beans are rinsed by being sent through additional water channels.  They are then ready for drying.

Acidity

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