The biggest stress of coffee roaster is picking the green beans, that is because there are many factors involved in picking the green beans. In this article we will point few of the important factors involved in picking the green beans.
Which region is the coffee?
As a coffee roaster it is essential to understand the tastes of the coffees based on the region of the coffees. Some coffees are fruity with high acidity at certain region, whereas, at some regions the coffees have more almond and chocolate tastes. The Brazilian coffees are known for the chocolate, almond and nutty flavors, however, there are regions in Brazil where coffees have fruity taste of oranges and berries. However, these coffees are hard to find, therefore, it is important to see the verities of the coffee, because each varieties have their own distinctive tastes. For example yellow Catuai, have fruity flavors with nice and smooth acidity, whereas, yellow bourban have sparkling taste of fruits. The African coffees have high acidity with specific distinction of fruits, for example, in Kenyan coffees it is easy to taste orange and grapes, and in Ethiopian coffees it is easy to taste green olive. Knowing the regions of the coffees the roasters know exactly what to do with these coffees, and how to roast them for specific purposes. At Bean Spot, we don't roast the African coffees too dark, we roast them light to medium roast. If the African coffee is roasted too dark it will have mixture of harsh oily taste with acidity. That is why it is essential to be careful in roasting the African coffees. The Brazilian coffees are usually best for espresso roast, due to the high body, and strong flavors of nutty and chocolate tastes. There are some amazing Brazilian coffees that taste nice on filter coffees, but this coffees have to be roasted with precision. We roast Brazilian coffees little faster than other coffees for filter roast, because Brazilian coffees have little burnt taste faster. There are coffees like El Salvador and Guatemala, which can be used for espresso and filter roasts. For me these coffees are valuable coffees since it can be used for espresso and filter. We take these factors into consideration before picking the green beans.
What is the quality of the green beans? The scores and storage
The quality of the green beans are the most important factor of picking green beans. First thing comes to roasters mind is the scores of the coffees, which starts from 80 to 94 points. These scores are given, based on the protocols of Specialty Coffee Association. This part of the quality depends on the farmers and producers that process the coffees. The scores depends on many factors starting from defects to cupping. Once the coffee have their own scores, at a given harvest year, the other factor that depends on the quality is the storage. This part depends on the importer and roaster. The coffees have to be stored at the best environment, there are some importer that have too much stored coffees which makes it difficult for them to guarantee the quality of the coffees. If the coffees are stored bad, it has dust and mold taste. These taste are bad and kills the coffees natural taste, some coffees have some dust taste which is hard to notice but experts can easily notice it. There are several ways of packing the coffees, which are jute bag, grain pro and vacuum pack. Jute bag is not favorable by most of the roasters that have high demand of quality coffees, since it collects dust. Grain pro bags are our favorite packed coffees, since it protects the coffees from dust.
How the coffee was processed?
The process of the coffee is not much of the important factor for us at Bean Spot, however, it is essential to understand the difference of the process, such as natural process, pulped natural / honey process and washed process. It all depends on the region, usually our Brazilian coffees are natural or pulped natural processed, however, we are willing to pay more for washed processed due to clarity of the taste of coffee. The coffees from Brazil have strong flavors, therefore, it is essential factor to understand the supplier of the coffee, from good supplier the natural processed coffees are better than washed, whereas, if we don't know the supplier we would favor the pulped natural process or washed processed coffee to avoid the unpleasant taste from coffees. In African coffees we always would love more of honey processed and natural processed coffees, so that we can have the original tastes of the coffees.
What is the best use of the green beans? Espresso, filter or both.
This factor is vital part of purchasing the green beans, therefore, we always ask for the sample coffees to do some cupping to understand if the coffee is good for espresso only or for both. If the coffee is good for espresso only, then it can only be used for espresso, and we don't roast filter coffees on this coffees. These coffees have little bitter taste and it can easily be noted in filter coffees. The lighter we roast these coffees, the more grassy and bitter taste of the coffees can be tasted, which are bad combination. However, these coffees are amazing for espresso, with nice crema and balanced body. The coffees that can be used for espresso and filter coffees are roasted for filter and for espresso we roast it at medium roast, this is due to not wanting to lose the natural taste of coffee. With the correct roasting profile the fruity coffees can also be roasted with the nice crema and flavor, which will give an amazing espresso that everyone can enjoy. If this coffees are roasted with little more development time, it will start to have bitter taste with sourness, which is bad combination, therefore, few seconds have great impact on the taste of coffees. We first look at the density of the green beans, it can be noticed by smelling, touching, and putting it on the scale. It can easily be noticed after the roast by just looking at it. The density of the coffee is important in picking the green beans to make the roasting easier. The coffees with higher density is roasted little longer therefore, the few seconds of development time does not have great impact like the coffee with less density. I also like to blend the coffees with high density with lower density coffees, therefore, we will have some coffees with very high density for using for filter coffees, medium roasted espresso, and for blend.
What is the price of the green beans?
The price is among the important factor in choosing the green beans, therefore, we spend great amount of time understanding the green beans so that we can set our own price based on the coffees offered to us, then we start to negotiate with our suppliers. These are the points to understand what makes the prices, the harvest year, the older the coffee, the lower the price. The quality score of the coffee, the higher the score the higher the price. The region of the coffees, some of the African coffees are more expensive, whereas, some of the South American coffees can be extremely expensive such as above 20 euro per kg for green beans. At Bean Spot specialty coffee in Bratislava, we do many researches on the green beans to increase our knowledge in coffees, so that we can search for the coffees with the correct pricing. The knowledge is the most important factor in finding the coffees with the best prices. We are willing to pay more for coffees that can be used for espresso and for filter, whereas, we will pay less for coffees that can only be used for espresso. The coffees that can used for both, as more valuable because of the increased offer to our customers. In the passed we have work with some Peru, Honduras, and Brazilian coffees, which can only be used for espresso, therefore, we only roasted for espresso coffees. The Guatemala, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Kenya, El Salvador, Costa Rica and Brazilian Sertaozinho, were some of the coffees which we bought for espresso and filter coffees. We could offer filter roasted coffees to our customers with these coffees as well as for espresso roast. We also used about 10% of these coffees in some of our blend to give little bit of sparkling fruity taste in the espresso, which could be noticed at the end of the cup.
In conclusion, there are so much going on behind that cup of coffee, starting from farming to the cup. The quality of coffee can only be increased from increasing of coffee culture. In recent years the coffee culture have been increasing, along with it the quality of green beans, quality of roasting machines, quality of roasting the coffees and the quality of the preparation of the coffees by the baristas. It is essential to understand on how people like their coffees, so that we can offer the best coffee possible.