company - education - coffee - tea - equipment

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Branding roast

After the On Point piece, I realized clearly we don't talk as much about roast level as other roasters do.  We talk about matching the right brew method up with the right coffee more than the roast degree.  The reasoning is that we don't want to throttle customers with our opinions or 'ideology', we want to focus on the right match.  That is in theory doing our best job to present a range of coffees we feel strongly about and making sure customers can take an experience home more times than not that they will enjoy.  It is in the end about customers finding some level of attachment to the farm brand (and therefore the producer).

Though there are fewer and fewer trying defend the losing argument that is dark roasting somehow equals quality, a light roast does not guarantee quality coffee in itself either.  That's the issue at hand, which is better, and we decide not to talk about it most of the time.

For me personally, I do not enjoy dark roasts.  I do not therefor roast into second crack on our coffees.  We may be the only local roaster whose lineup is roasted between first and second but that often escapes the discussion when others are branding themselves as light roasters and we are silent on the issue.  It is my suggestion that if you are to take the mantle that light roasts equal quality, your company should boldly abandon roasting french roasts, vienna roasts, South Italian, and all other roasts that are focused on dark.  You can't have it both ways and still be sincere.

While I may not enjoy dark roasts, there are very few good light roasters out there.  More times than I can count I've been served up grassy and underdeveloped roasts that seemed more about getting the lightest possible aesthetic color than palatable drink.  It is that same astringency and unpleasant acidity that shows up in poorly done dark roasts that is even more intense and stomach churning in poorly done light roasts.  The few good light roasters there are seem to be frustratingly inconsistent which compounds the consumer perception of what light roasts are.

When someone says they don't like a light roast, I'm never shocked because a lot of things have to line up to make a good cup.  That's why we put our focus on brewing it correctly and trying to teach our customers how to take that experience home.  It is a barista focus for sure but it has helped us immensely moving forward.

In the meantime, we are going to continue refining what we've been doing and keep moving forward.