We recently received an email from a fine customer in the great state of Michigan named Will. He has been a coffee drinker for quite a few years, mostly using his beloved “k-cup” machine at home. At the office, Will would use an auto-drip brewer and a leading brand of pre-ground coffee from the local supermarket. He only recently decided to “dig in” to the wide world of specialty coffee by purchasing two bags of our Brazil Sitio Barra Grande Estate. He also upped his game by purchasing a burr grinder and a French press.
When Will ran out of the Ironclad coffee, he purchased a bag of “dark roast” from a regionally popular roaster close to his Michigan home. After brewing up a cup or two of that coffee, he contacted us with two questions:
- Why are their beans oily and yours aren’t? The coffee grinds stick to the wall of the grinder housing. Is it because it’s a dark roast?
- I’m noticing I don’t like dark roasts; it tastes like it’s burnt and bitter. Are there any roasts you would recommend?
Let’s answer those two questions in the order they were asked.
- Darker roasts do bring the coffee’s oils to the surface, which really isn’t a great thing for several reasons. The main reason is that over a period of several days, those oils start to become rancid. It is our opinion that any coffee that has a significant sheen to it has been over-roasted. Some of the coffees we have seen are so shiny you can almost see your reflection!
- The dark roasts do end up possessing more bitter, scorched, and smoky flavor characteristics than their lighter roasted counterparts. The danger therein is roasting the pleasant, naturally occurring flavor characteristics right out of the beans. If a roasting company purchases high-quality coffees from farmers who have done a magnificent job in the cultivation and processing phases, it really doesn’t make much sense to “bake” those beautiful flavors right out of the beans. For us, it just doesn’t make sense to undo the magnificent work of those farmers by burning the unique qualities right out of the coffee.
On the other hand, it may be the case that some of the gigantic coffee roasting operations around the world roast to such a dark degree because the quality of that lot of coffee really isn’t there in the first place. Once a roaster torches the sweet, delicate flavors out of any given coffee, all coffees are going to end up tasting very similar — if not indistinguishable — one from another.
We see it as our main duty to roast every coffee in such a way that the unique flavors and characteristics in each one are coaxed out. The better job we do in understanding every individual coffee through experimentation in the roasting lab, the better the outcome will be in your cup.
In the end, Will concluded that he needed to maintain a supply of Ironclad coffee at all times to prevent venturing out into the dark world of unknown roasts. He decided on one of our convenient bi-weekly coffee subscriptions to make having a supply of delicious coffee easy and automatic.
Welcome to “the lighter side,” Will. Cheers, and enjoy!