In coffee, alchemists saw that fire magically transformed a neutral tasting seed into something heavenly in both aroma and taste. Whoever first threw the raw coffee beans into the fire, whether by accident or design, was onto a real winner.
The sheer number of aromatic compounds that develop in coffee upon roasting means that it is right up there with wine in terms of complexity. Roasted coffee can harbour aromas that are nutty, floral, fruity, chocolaty, spicy and herbal and the very finest examples have an endless variety of these.
At the roastery
Roasting your own coffee is vital for quality, consistency and sourcing – we carefully select our own coffees from origin and have full control over how we roast them.
We use a “Probat” gas fired, drum roaster (drum roasting being the traditional, most respected method of roasting coffee) which is combined with computer controlled programming to make it the finest in German technology. This programming grants us the consistency, but our highly experienced roasting team make batch by batch adjustments to the roasting process to respond to factors which can alter the outcome of the roast. These include green coffee condition, roastery temperature, humidity and air pressure.
For us, this is the only way to reveal the hidden potential within every bean and to release the distinct aromas and flavour characteristics into every cup of coffee.
We always seek to find the optimum roast level for each of our coffees, and for each batch. Whether a full, dark roast or a lighter, medium roast, we want to find the sweet spot of the coffee where it’s at its most aromatic and flavoursome. Some coffees require longer roasting to coax out the complexity and sweetness or to tone down the acidity, but others have such delicate floral or fruit aromas that you have to be careful not to mask or deaden them.
The exception to this is coffee roasted specifically for espresso. These blends tend to be roasted for a longer period to a darker roast level. The longer the coffee beans are roasted, the more the cellular structure opens up to create more volume and surface area. Espresso extraction involves a high pressure of water for a relatively short period of time, so the increased surface area becomes vital to draw out all of the coffee’s soluble and insoluble elements fundamental to the espresso shot.
“Slow roasting” is all about allowing time for the complex reactions to take place, to maximise the development of sweetness by caramelising the natural sugars and maximising the volatile organic compounds and aromatics held within the coffee oils. Coffee can be roasted much more quickly, but this only allows time to impart the stronger, smokier flavours of the roasting equipment and not the potential held within the coffee seed itself.