What’s So Special About Specialty Coffee?
Specialty coffee refers to the highest-quality green beans on the market. Specialty coffee must be without primary defects, and it must also have a distinctive flavor in the cup. Like fine wine, cheese, or honey, coffee develops this distinctive flavor from the microclimate in which it is grown. Soil, moisture, altitude, and season all contribute to a bean’s terroir. Growing, milling, and roasting coffee that is not only free from defect, but is also singularly delicious, is a pretty huge undertaking, involving many committed people all along the supply chain.
There are three main coffee-growing regions in the world:
Central and South America
Coffee cultivation in Latin America ranges from Southern Mexico all the way to Brazil and Bolivia. American coffees are generally light- to medium-bodied, crisply acidic, and clean-tasting.
In contrast to Latin American coffees, Indonesian coffees tend to share the following features: low acidity, heavy body, and intense earthy/foresty flavors.
Coffees grown in the volcanic soil and high altitudes of the Great Rift Zone in East Africa tend to be bright, intense, and very fruity.
Tasting and Describing
When we talk about coffee, we use a little bit of jargon. We want you to be in on the conversation, so here is a short glossary of coffee terms:
Aroma refers not only to what we perceive through our noses, but also to what we sense retro-nasally when we drink coffee. A coffee’s aroma is strongest just after it has been ground and brewed. Coffee can smell like practically anything, but some of the desirable notes we look for include floral, nutty, caramel, and spice aromas.
Flavor refers to the overall impression of a coffee’s characteristics, including the basic sapid tastes: sweet, sour, bitter, salty (and, controversially, umami), origin characteristics, and roast flavors. Might sound something like, “Sweet, with chocolate roast notes.”
Acidity is a desirable quality of taste which gives good coffees depth and interest. It is described with words like bright, clear, dry, winey, or tangy. Coffees lacking in acidity can be dull or flat.
Body is the weight or thickness of the beverage on the tongue. Does a coffee feel more like apple juice or olive oil?
Balance is your opinion of how well a coffee’s flavor, aroma, acidity, and body work together. Connotes a certain aesthetic harmony. Sometimes the most interesting and delicious coffees lack balance.
Grinding, Brewing, and Storage
Ground coffee stales quickly when exposed to air, so you should grind your coffee just before brewing whenever possible, and store your coffee in an opaque, airtight container, preferably in a cool, dark place (kitchen cabinets are great!). Use fresh, cold water. Measure two tablespoons of ground coffee per 6 ounces of water, and adjust to taste.
We roast five days a week and each bag of Red Rock Roasters’ coffee has a Roast Date on the bottom. You can count on freshness and transparency from us.
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