Terroir Coffee Roast Master, Mike Fitzhugh, releasing a Full Flavor roast. Note how little smoke.Roasting unlocks a coffee's flavor potential; it is a science and an art form that requires split second timing and takes great experience and concentration.
Full Flavor Roast - Roasting coffee is much like cooking beef. It can be cooked rare, medium-rare, medium, and well done. Full flavor is to coffee what medium-rare is to beef. Only high quality should be cooked this lightly. When this is so, all the flavors of the food/drink are at a peak. George Howell Coffee Company coffees, unless otherwise specified, are roasted lightly – unlike most specialty coffees available today. This requires the ripest, therefore the most naturally sweet, coffees.
Most specialty coffees are roasted the equivalent of well-done (or beyond!) and emphasize ‘richness.’ This comes with the price of a certain sameness and blandness. The popularity of port wines in the 19th century is reminiscent of this trend– rich and, in that case, very sweet – as opposed to the apparently thinner, lighter, more astringent reds we so value today. Dark roasted coffees tend to dramatically blunt a coffee’s acidity and diminish its aromatics, much of which is burned off in smoke at earlier stages of roasting. Dark roasting covers what delicate flavors, nuances and floral aromas are left with a thick caramel taste - when done by the masters of this roast style - mixed with an overlay of sooty bitterness – particularly evident as the coffee gets colder and in the aftertaste - due to the natural carbonization process that occurs with dark roasting.)
Coffee Connection Roast Master, Robert Datalla, releasing a French Roast.
Espresso Roast – Contrary to what is normally served at US specialty shops, fine espresso coffees in Europe are not extra-dark roasted. Anyone who has visited the best espresso bars in Italy can vouch for this. Because the high pressure of espresso brewing emphasizes acidity, a slightly darker roast than Full Flavor is used for higher-grown coffees to properly balance their higher acidity and body; lower grown coffees such as fine Brazils, such as out Daterra Farm, do not require a darker roast at all.
Our South Italian Style espresso reflects the darker roast style prevalent in Naples, Italy. It is what we call a New Orleans Roast (see below).
Vienna Roast – this is the next stage beyond Full Flavor. The coffee is pulled out just before what roasters call the "second pop", when the beans' cellular structure is ruptured permitting the beans' oils to bleed out towards the surface.
New Orleans Roast – the coffee beans are pulled from the roaster just as the "second pop" is peaking. This roast emphasizes depth with a slight edge of bitterness. Our South Italian Espresso Style Daterra Farm is a fine example of this roast.
French Roast - the darkest roast, taken to well beyond the "second pop." The cells crack and oils rapidly bleed to the surface, totally covering the bean. Acidity is dramatically dulled, replaced by a thick, bittersweet, heavy bodied caramel taste. Care has to be taken that the exposed oils do not beome rancid.
Different coffee makers produce different results. Darker roasts reduce acidity. Pressure makers highlight the acidity in coffee, so that certain coffees, which seem perfectly balanced when brewed in a drip machine, may seem too sharp or "vinegary" when brewed in a French press or, even more the case, in an espresso machine. That is why we recommend our Vienna-roasted Kenya for French-press brewers. As we grow, other Vienna Roasts will become available.