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On Roast Levels

2011 August 29
by Ryan

Light. Medium. Dark. French.

These four roast levels have pretty much been the lay of the land when it comes to coffee. For quite some time. Is this a bad thing?

Short Answer: Yes.

Let’s look at it from a craft beer perspective.

You can’t just go into a bar and order a pint of a Lager, Amber, or Stout anymore. Now, you’ve got a myraid of choices, barley, hops, and aging to choose from: not to mention many “new” types of beers.

The coffee world is no different, it’s just taking a while for the terminology to catch up.

You may have noticed it with the fact that we are showcasing specific estates of coffees: not just specific regions of coffee growing countries. You may have noticed it with the fact that we’re showcasing different processing styles. The same coffee processed differently in the mill will have a noticeably different taste. You may have noticed it with the brewing method. Take a taste sample of an airpot brew then try it in the pourover: night and day difference.

So in order to continue to better represent all that is good in our coffee offerings, we’ll start using more of the terminology in the roasting world when it comes to roast level.

So let’s take a look at this fancy-dancy infographic I whipped up:

The "Standard" Roast Levels vs. What we're doing here

A few extra options leads to many different variations on the coffee, both in taste and roast time.

Now, if you’re thinking “WHY?” let me say this: we want to make for you the best coffee possible. We want you to get the best coffee for you. Getting a few extra degrees on roast level allows us to match you to your (new) favorite coffee.

Part 2 of this post:

Now, before you start going off the handle when you realize we usually don’t roast past the Full City+ level here, we need to clarify one thing.

Properly roasted and brewed “Light Roast” coffees are just as pleasing to the palate than a “Dark Roast” coffee–in fact, many times they’re better.

In other words: “Dark Roasts” are not better than “Light Roasts.” Sacrilege, I know.

So our next minor coffee label revision is going to introduce some new “sliders” to the label.

Roast Level, Acidity, Mouthfeel, and Aftertaste Sliders

Roast Level: I think we’ve talked this one up a bit here…

Acidity: The “pop” that a coffee gives you on your palate. Kenya coffees, for example, would have an extremely high acidity count. Our India Monsooned Malabar? No acidity at all.

Mouthfeel: How the coffee behaves in your mouth. Is the coffee syrupy? (Think our Honduras) High mouthfeel. Tea-like? (Like our Ethiopia Yirgacheffe) Low mouthfeel.

Aftertaste: Sometimes you just have that coffee that seems to go on forever in your mouth. And not in that bad “I need a glass of water NOW!” aftertaste. So if the coffee is one that likes to hang out for a while it’ll rate really high. No real aftertaste? (remember our El Salvador Santa Sofia?) Low scale.

All of these changes to our labels are all designed for one reason: to get the coffee you want into your hands.

I’m always interested in hearing your thoughts about this or any other issue pertaining to our current operations of our store. (Yes, Truth, even yours…) So please, comment away!

And thanks for continuing to make R&R Black Forest’s Community Coffee Cafe!

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