Bitterness is the peculiar sensory characteristic of coffee. But why is coffee bitter and why do we like this typically unpleasant taste in our favorite drink?
The roaster does not only deal with the roasting of green coffee, that is, that alchemy which, in addition to transforming and making the coffee edible, gives it its characteristic aromatic and organoleptic profile.
Actually, in the long coffee supply chain, the roaster has a crucial role: they’re the link between the plantation to the cup.
Many phases of the production process depend on their work and, therefore, also the quality of our daily cup of coffee.
Being a roaster is a job made up of choices and details
The roaster is responsible for selecting the raw material, choosing the species, origin, selection and type of processing of the green coffees that will make up his blends.
Then the roaster must know how to enhance the work done by those who preceded him along the supply chain (the farmers), evaluating the quality, percentage and number of varieties of raw coffee to be included in the blend and defining the degree and roasting curve which will enhance its natural characteristics and taste profile.
Finally, the roaster must know how to train and inform the barista, the last actor in the coffee transformation chain, to ensure that they have all the tools and skills necessary to brew the coffee to its full potential and serve a high quality cup.
The roaster’s job is made up of knowledge, competence and professionalism as well as the “not so secret” ingredients of the roaster’s “secret recipe”: experience, passion, focus and attention to detail.
Precisely those details that are often not told and on which we don’t dwell too much, perhaps because they are too technical and particular. But which define and make the work of each roaster unique, making the real difference between “a coffee” and “his coffee”, between “a coffee” and “a quality coffee”.
The secrets of SpecialCoffee blends
At SpecialCoffee, we create our coffee blends starting from the cup: in every phase of the process, we think about the aroma, taste and crema we would like to find in every espresso or cappuccino.
Our coffees are the result of our choices.
Choices dictated by experience, knowledge and specific skills, made with the intention of offering a high quality product.
Being able to share some of these choices is important to us. It allows us to talk about our work and our passion, but above all, it allows us to offer the right tools to grasp, appreciate and enhance the details that make our blends unique.
Detail n.1 – the blending: before or after roasting?
The roaster can blend the coffee both before and after roasting.
Supporters of the first method say that blending afterwards guarantees optimal cooking of each quality of coffee, but the blend will present an unbalanced aroma.
However, opponents argue that uniform cooking, not allowing each quality to be cooked to its correct degree, does not make the most of the aromatic capacity of each individual coffee.
In fact, by blending before roasting, a more homogeneous product is obtained in terms of taste and aroma.
By blending later, or by roasting each single variety separately, the roasting of the various batches and types of coffee is better regulated, especially when they do not have similar dimensions and characteristics.
It’s the roaster’s choice. In the continuous search for quality.
Through a production process that allows the organoleptic properties of the individual blend to develop perfectly. And at the same time a system that can only be maintained with expert craftsmanship and perfect technological control.
With the aim of providing greater consistency and uniformity of the blend, all SpecialCoffee coffee blends are blended before roasting.
For this reason, at SpecialCoffee we select and blend coffees with similar characteristics and a uniform size, and then roast them with the same degree of development.
Detail n.2 – the cooling: air or water?
After roasting it is essential to proceed with rapid cooling, which stops the “cooking” but at the same time respects the delicacy of the product, to leave all the best aromas intact and preserve the quality of the coffee.
There are two methods for cooling beans: forced air cooling and water cooling.
Air cooling involves a large flow of cold air that lowers the temperature in a short amount of time. This all happens in the cooling tank, where the beans are moved continuously with blades to allow uniform contact with the air.
On the other hand, water cooling consists of cooling the coffee with nebulized water which, in contact with the heat of the beans, transforms into water vapor.
The disadvantage of this method is that it triggers the oxidation process of aromas and fats, starting from those placed on the surface of the grain. The opening of the pores caused by the violent heat exchange leads to rapid degassing, leaving the compounds sensitive to oxygen without the protection of carbon dioxide.
For the roaster it has the only advantage of reducing weight losses caused by roasting, but it also leads to a reduction in coffee yield.
The SpecialCoffee blends are all air-cooled as it is the process that most respects the integrity of the product and guarantees the best results in terms of quality.
It preserves the coffee from humidity which remains below 1% and allows every aroma of the natural product to be enhanced.
Detail n.3 – the degassing
It is natural to think that the quality of the coffee is optimal immediately after roasting, but this is not the case.
During the roasting process, coffee undergoes a physical and chemical transformation which leads it to develop a large quantity of gas and carbon dioxide.
Carbon dioxide has an important role in coffee quality: it is an indicator for freshness, plays an important role in shelf life and in packaging, impacts the extraction process, is involved in crema formation, and may affect the sensory profile in the cup.
However, it must be present in the right measure. In fact, too much carbon dioxide creates bubbles around the coffee which prevent the water from making proper contact and therefore the complete extraction of all the aromas.
For this reason, coffee requires a degassing phase which allows it to expel the gases developed during roasting and begin to “mature” before proceeding with packaging.
SpecialCoffee blends are left to rest for at least 48 hours before packaging.
At the end of this period, they are then packaged so that the coffee continues to mature and develop its aromas, but at a slower and more gradual pace.
Whether dictated by the long Italian coffee tradition or recommended by the experience and sensitivity of the roaster, behind every detail there are conscious choices.
Guided by our passion for coffee, at SpecialCoffee we give the best of ourselves, taking responsibility for our actions.