Almost every coffee roaster you encounter uses superlatives to describe their coffee and to convince you it’s the best. So, how are you able to distinguish one from another if they all claim such greatness? Well, we have always said, “the proof is in the cup”. That is to say, we want you to be the judge. There are many different palettes out there, and just as many roasting and flavor profiles aimed at pleasing these differing taste buds. At the end of the day, how you like it is what matters.
Our award-winning coffees didn’t come into being by accident. There are a number of things that happen in our processes here at One Cup that translate into the consistently tasty roasts you enjoy. But nothing can make up for poor quality beans. You can’t ‘will’ low quality coffee to taste better, so let’s start with the quality of the green beans we source.
There are some major differences in qualities of green beans available. Roasting companies in the “specialty”, “micro” or “craft” roaster class are generally all purchasing the top 1% of beans available worldwide. But there can still be huge differences in flavor from one farm to another, even within the very same area. Much of this comes down to the cultivation practices the farmers employ. Everything from starting new plants, replacing unproductive trees with new ones, heavy pruning, mulching, and harvest practices (picking only ripe cherries, and sorting for defects) – so many factors go in to improving the quality and flavor profile.
You may not realize this, but many coffee farmers never even taste their own product. They may drink the reject coffee that’s virtually unsellable, but for economic reasons, the good stuff is all reserved for sale. Farmers who are actively improving their cultivation practices are also actively involved in tasting their coffees. By doing this, they can realize the impact of their efforts and know what areas to pinpoint next.
So then, we select from among the top farms within a region, and look for the one that has the specific flavor characteristics that we need for that component of a blend. Sometimes we aren’t happy with a particular crop, and so we go in search of not just other beans from the same country, but other beans that will give us the flavor characteristics we’re looking for. If we have to, we alter the recipe, introducing a new component (different origin country) in order to keep the consistency in the cup. Because we’re dealing with an agricultural product that fluctuates based on weather and other factors, we are constantly working to balance out these changes to keep the blend flavor consistent.
Next comes the roasting process. The roasting process consists of sugars from within the bean brought out and caramelized through heat. The beans ‘crack’ and expand several times depending how dark the roast is. We engineer the optimal roast pattern for each blend – a combination of temperature (throughout the different stages of roasting development), roasting time and cooling time. In many cases, we arrived at the final roast pattern by trial and error, tasting each batch, and making adjustments until we achieved a roast we were all wowed by. That’s the same way we approach competitions – by just fussing over our coffees until we think we’ve done everything possible to bring out the best flavor profile.
There really is a difference when coffee is roasted by hand, with real people conducting the entire process, vs. industrialized machines run by computers. By tending each batch by hand we are observing the process from beginning to end, adjusting when necessary, and removing defective beans or foreign matter (rocks, sticks, staples, marbles etc.) either before or after roasting. We then package by hand – a final opportunity for quality control.
At One Cup, roasting is part science, part art, and all heart. We hope our passion for producing awesome coffee and endeavoring to change the world with it is evident in every bag. The coffees you enjoy every day are truly “Brewed with Heart”. Enjoy!