Know Your Joe
You love your Joe, but do you really know your Joe? Well, your friendly neighborhood java men and java women, aka our Coffee Experts, have created a primer to educate you on all things coffee, from bean to cup.
How Does Your Coffee Grow?
Coffee does actually grow on trees, typically in countries along the equator. The climate in the Bean Belt holds steady at hot, but the altitude varies, and that can impact the flavor profile of your coffee.
The ideal altitude for growing coffee is between 3,000 to 6,000 feet, above sea level. At that range, the climate is free of frost and stays between 60-70° Fahrenheit year-round, with little rain and lots of sun. When it comes to coffee beans and elevation, a good rule of thumb is: The higher the elevation, the stronger the natural flavors in the coffee beans.
You may remember we created our own coffee-roasting enterprise in the heart of Central Market Westgate, which is now roasting exclusive microlots of green coffee daily for not only Westgate, but our other eight stores as well. Come in and really get to Know Your Joe, one cup at a time.
The fruit from coffee trees, called cherries, turn a deep, rich red when they’re ready to harvest. In general, most coffee countries have one harvest each year where beans are picked by hand, while a few countries might have two harvests per year.
The Process of Processing Coffee
After it’s grown and harvested, coffee must be processed in one of three ways:
Dry-processing: This is sun-dried coffee. Farmers spread the whole, harvested coffee cherries on patios or matting for up to three weeks, turning them with rakes daily at least every two hours for even drying.
Wet-processing: Also called “washed.”Coffee cherries are softened in large tanks filled with fresh water so the skin and sticky fruit pulp can be removed using a de-pulping machine to uncover the bean. After sorting for quality and size, the remaining beans go back into the tanks for up to two days for natural fermentation. Finally, the washed beans are dried using dry-processing. Coffees that are wet-processed typically have a cleaner, brighter flavor profile.
Pulp-natural processing: In countries where humidity is low, coffee cherries are stripped of their skins and the sticky fruit pulp is still attached. Pulp-natural coffees allow the coffee bean to absorb more of its natural sugars, giving a sweet coffee with strong caramel notes.
Processed coffee beans are known as “green coffee,” and ready for Roasting.
Bring the Heat
Technically, roasting coffee involves applying heat to break down chemical and physical properties, and changing the color, taste, and smell of green coffee. Non-technically? It’s taking green coffee and turning it brown. Commercially roasted coffee is usually roasted in machines heated to between 465-525° Fahrenheit for anywhere from 3 to 30 minutes. Variations in time and temperature account for different roast types that affect the coffee’s flavor profile.
The coffee world is full of roasting profiles. Here’s a way to find your favorite. In general, in lighter roasts, more of the coffee’s natural flavor notes are present. The roasts profiles below are listed from light to dark.
Cinnamon: Very light brown; Acidic; Light tea flavor
American: Medium light brown; Acidic; Light bread-like flavor
City: Medium brown; Acidic; Brown-sugary flavor
Full City: Medium dark brown; Faintly acidic; Bittersweet sugary flavor
Vienna: Moderate dark brown; Faintly acidic; Roasted caramel flavor
Velvet: Dark brown; Very low acidity; Strong caramel and bittersweet flavors
French: Very dark brown; Low acidity; Bittersweet; Heavy burnt undertones
Italian: Nearly black; Non-acidic; Strong smoky flavor; notes of charcoal