What Really Is Strong Coffee?
There are so many coffee origins, brewing methods, roasting levels and techniques that it is only normal to get confused when describing what coffee feels and tastes like. What I have found out is that most people have the believe that strong coffee is equivalent to dark roasted beans. The market for years has been flooded with over-roasted coffee for many reasons, but the main one I believe is due to the lack of understanding what really happens when coffee is roasted. Probably you have heard about this idea of the old school of coffee and the new way of approaching coffee, the famous “third wave”. Frankly one idea would not exist without the other, and you can’t compare them without one another. So the fact is that the way we process coffee is constantly changing because we understand more today about what happens during roasting than we did years ago. With technology and new innovations in the industry the understanding of coffee beans is becoming more clear than ever before. Today roasters and farmers are close knitted and getting more meticulous about the end result, the cup. I will take the opportunity today and talk to you about what we consider when we roast our coffee in order to offer the best drinking experience.
At Las Fincas Coffee we have the philosophy of identifying first the character that a specific terroir produces and the process in the green stage of each coffee bean we roast. Such understanding will determine the roasting level target in order to keep the best taste and aroma. Our coffee beans are never roasted to attain a color degree, that just would be disrespectful to the people that work hard at cultivating and processing the green beans. We have a very different way to bring out the best characteristics of every coffee and we do this by decreasing or increased the stage when coffee has lost all its moisture and starts the drying stage. Without getting to technical about all this, the idea is simple, we measure the final intensity of each coffee by knowing that some beans are more intense than others. Playing with the time the beans spend in the roasting drum will definitely be a factor for maximum taste. Our technique produces a very similar final hue of the roasted beans that perhaps seen together one might think it’s the same roast degree. At first glance it is possible to think they will have very similar taste, but in fact the final flavor will be determined by the natural notes of the bean and how long it spend while roasting. Another important factor for a strong coffee is the amount of ground coffee used and the quantity of water to brew it. For those of us that really enjoy a defined and intense cup of coffee we advise to always know the character of the beans and to use a higher ratio of coffee to water. There are so many different tastes and aromatic qualities to every different coffee that would be destroyed if we where to extend the roasting time or increase the heat source to reach a dark tone in the coffee’s surface. Most coffee at that stage will exhibit a burnt and bitter taste, at this level of roast any coffee will taste the same regardless of its own character. We respect coffee to much to lead people to believe that a taste like that is what an intense cup should be like. With the parameters we use to roast our coffee the beans will demonstrate their best qualities of taste and aroma. I believe every coffee could be strong because it really comes down to how much coffee you really use to brew it. What I can guarantee you is that all our coffee is intense and flavorful because it was roasted to meet a taste target. Below is a chart we use in the specialty coffee industry to describe the flavor and aromatic characteristics of different coffees. You will observe the enormous range of characteristics coffee contains and how all could be lost when coffee is roasted to higher degrees or lower for that matter in order to meet a color hue.