What does coffee mean to you?
What it means to me has changed a lot since I started roasting. To most, coffee is just the black stuff that comes from an urn. You don’t think about where it comes from. All of the steps it takes to go from a thing that grows out of the ground to a liquid in your cup. Becoming a roaster, I have learned about the process, but I feel much closer to the source. When I open a bag of green beans, I can almost feel the connection to the farmers who grew it. That is the next thing I want to get into. It’s made me want to go back to the source and form a relationship with the people to grow the beans in the first place.
What is your favorite bean?
Ethiopian coffee beans are one of my favorites. These beans make me want to jump on a plane to Kembata and visit the farm they were grown on. I want to feel the soil between my toes and see where they grow this coffee. I am mildly obsessed, honestly. Right now, I am roasting Jackalope Joe, our Etheopean blend, and while I do that, I am listening to Etheopean Jazz. Mulatu Astake is the artist. I listen to music from all over the world, so I like to listen to music from where the beans are from as much as I can while roasting.
What flavors are you looking for when roasting your coffee?
We are sticking to the lighter side of medium. Keeping it light allows the beans to keep more of their distinct flavor. With small batching roasting, we can get out lighter roasts to our customers quickly so they can experience the full flavor of the beans. Jackalope Joe has a nice blueberry, strawberry, and nutty taste and smell.
What is the difference between roasting a blonder roast vs. a darker roast?
A light roast coffee is going to have brighter and more subtle flavors. You will taste the bean’s origin, and the flavor will vary a bit from batch to batch. The darker you get, the more those bright flavors get muted. A medium roast can still highlight the unique characteristics of a bean, but it will have a much more consistent flavor than a light roast, and some of the subtle undertones will be lost in favor of a more uniform “coffee” taste. Coffee is best around 48 hours after it is roasted and will maintain peak flavor for about 6 weeks. With a darker roast, you get more of the bitter and earthy flavors that have long been associated with coffee over the same period without as much of a peak. It’s really a difference in flavor degradation. If you were to drink a light roast 2 weeks after a roast and then the same batch of beans again, but 2 months after a roast, you would notice a loss of flavor notes. If you were to drink a dark roast at 2 weeks and then again at 2 months, you wouldn’t see much difference in flavor. (That’s why big box brands tend to start medium and get darker! It’s much easier which to have consistency from bag to bag and year to year with a dark roast.)
Has roasting impacted the way you drink coffee now?
I always drink it black. I tend to drink cold brew in the summer, so I am eager to figure out what blends will brew the best cold. I am excited about a new blend of Ethiopian and Bali Blue Moon (Goblin Grog). It’s our new and improved Bigfoot Brew. The Bali Blue Moon has vanilla and dark chocolate flavor notes. That, paired with our Ethiopian’s berry flavors, should make an interesting cold brew. I’ve been into the cold brew with coconut syrup lately, and I think all those flavors together will play nicely with coconut.
So you’ve roasted the coffee; how is business going?
It’s funny. I keep getting really excited when I roast and overestimate my beans. Sometimes I think I will roast too much coffee and need to be reined in, but then I check on our stock, and it is just gone. It’s really cool to be a part of this and to see it going so well. I was really worried that I would roast all of this coffee and it would just sit, but if anything, we might be understocking at our current rate. I recently checked on our stock at Ellijay Coffeehouse, and it was just gone. We can’t keep Jackalope Joe on the shelves. It is so good, and it just sells out so fast.
Bigfoot Brew (Kembata, Ethiopia + Bali, Indonesia)
Kembata, Ethiopia + Bali, Indonesia
Whole Bean Coffee
Two of our favorite beans together at last! A Medium Roast blend of whole beans from Bali and Ethiopia in a heavenly pair that’s sweet and fruity. This is the apex cold brew. It’s excellent served black or with coconut or even some blueberry syrup to accentuate the natural flavors of the Ethiopian bean.
Cupping Notes: milk chocolate, blueberry, strawberry, vanilla bean, hints of caramel and nuttiness
Ingredients: 100% Roasted Arabica Bean Coffee