Double & Triple Roasting Coffee

So what do we mean when we say double roast and triple roast and what is the best coffee roasting method?  Well every coffee bean is different.  Some are high grown in the mountains, others are grown closer to sea level, and others are grown somewhere in-between.  Some are grown in shady conditions, others in full sun, and still others are grown half-and-half.  Soil conditions vary too.  Some soil is volcanic, some rocky, some loamy, some full of clay.  Some soil drains well and others don’t.  The variables go on and on.

So what we do is roast each bean to a particular level.  For the sake of conversation we’ll call it Light / Medium / Dark although there are a lot of variations in between like Light-Medium or Extra Dark, etc.

The coffee tastes different at each roast level.  The lighter roasts tend to bring out lighter flavours like floral and fruity flavours whereas the darker roasts tend to bring out darker flavours like caramel and chocolate.  So we determine the flavours we want to put the spotlight on and which flavours are most complementary to one another and we roast to that intended outcome.

Loco Leghorn for instance is double roasted.  One light roast and one medium roast.  We’ve found that a dark roast with this particular bean doesn’t yield the classic Colombian coffee profile.  Add to that fact that The Lovely & Talented Roast Mistress can coax a lot of flavours out of the bean that the “speed roasters” can’t.  She’ll roast a batch for 20+ minutes when a factory roaster will roast the same bean for only 7 minutes.

So that’s it, the best coffee roasting method is variable.  Double roasted is the same bean roasted to two differnt levels.  Triple roasted, likewise, is the same bean roasted to three different levels.  When you drink Farmer’s Friend, a blend of three different coffee beans (Colombia / Ethiopia / Kenya)  you’re drinking SEVEN different roasts.  As you can see, we put a lot of work into each bag of coffee we produce.

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Coffee Revelation

I’m not too smart.  If you didn’t know that already it will become glaringly apparent very soon.  That’s because I’m going to try and sell you something . . . but I’m not going to make a dime on the sale.  Not too smart.

So one of my customers recommended I get an AeroPress.


Aeropress – the simple coffee machine

Then another.  And a few others as well.

Then my favourite barista, who has a €16,000 Simonelli turbocharged rock-star espresso machine, told me I had to have one.  He said it was a ‘must have’ for home coffee making equipment.

By the way, what I’m encouraging you to buy only costs 0.001809375% of €16,000.  It’s not going to break the bank.

I took everyone’s advice and bought an AeroPress  from—who, full disclosure here, also sells our Red Rooster Coffee.  And, full disclosure continued—isn’t paying me any money—zero, zip, nil, nada—to make this recommendation.  Believe it or not, they even made me pay for my AeroPress! 

I’m happy to report, with no equivocation, that I’m really glad I took my customer’s advice!

The AeroPress  ‘machine’, if you want to call it that, is super simple to use, super fast to brew a cup of coffee, and the clean-up is a snap.

Another benefit: I take my daughter to school every morning.  I used to get up earlier in my pre- AeroPress world to have the time to make us a pot of coffee so we could enjoy a go-cup together on the drive to school.  But now I can squeeze every minute of slumber out of the day because my brewing time has been cut by about 70%.  And the coffee is better too.  How cool is that!?!

The device is deceptively simple to use.

Put a filter in the strainer.  Screw that onto the body of the AeroPress .  Scoop in your coffee.  Add water.  Stir.  Plunge.  Viola!  Great coffee.

To clean up, unscrew the strainer and eject the spent coffee puck and filter into the trash.  Rinse.  Done.

Aeropress Parts

Here’s what you get when you buy the Aeropress. It comes with a pack of filters. is giving you an extra filter pack for free.

I could go on and on about the beautiful aroma and flavour of the coffee, which is the important part, but you’ll just have to find that out for yourself.

Now to the sales pitch.  The folks at, Craig and his lovely wife Catherine, have generously offered to include an extra of filters to any of you reading this who want to yield to my high-pressure sales job and purchase an  AeroPress.  When you order, and you really should, use the code FREEFILTER when checking out to get your free pack of 350 filters.

Craig said that when buying the  AeroPress that you should put the AeroPress and an extra pack of filters in your shopping cart.  Then at checkout use the code at the end of the process to get your credit.

Once you get the AeroPress and have your first 10 or 20 cups of coffee and lean back and say with love in your heart, “That Red Rooster guy who recommended the AeroPress is a genius,” make sure you send us an email and tell us about your experience.  I’d especially like to hear if you had, as Craig calls the AeroPress experience, ‘a coffee revelation’.  That’s payment enough for me.

Finally, Craig’s offer ends at the end of the month.  March 31st at midnight and the offer is gone.  So don’t dilly-dally.  As they say on those late-night infomercials, ACT NOW! 

If you love a good cup of coffee the AeroPress is money well spent.  And if you love bad coffee—heaven forbid—the AeroPress will make it better.

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Please . . . . ! Not another coffee cancer scare

Everything causes cancer.  At least that’s the way it seems if you keep up with health and diet news.

And now another player has raised its head.  The offender?  It’s called Acrylamide.

Something else to make your hearts race and your minds worry.

Evidently acrylamide is a chemical found in many plant based foods, brought about by certain high temperature cooking processes like baking, roasting and frying.

For coffee the roasting process brings out the chemical.  But as one researcher said, acrylamide formation is at its peak when the coffee is still very light (before being drinkable).  In other words it shows up early in the roasting process and then dissipates the more the coffee is roasted.

And then the miniscule amount that is left after the coffee has been fully roasted is further reduced during brewing.

So should we now be scared of the coffee we’re drinking.  Is it going to cause cancer?

As a medical layman I can’t say yes or no.  But as a thinking person, which you no doubt are yourself you know a few things

  • Coffee has been roasted, brewed, and consumed for about 1,000 years (fortunately roasting and brewing methods have improved over the years J).
  • Cancer was almost non-existent at the turn of the century (1900)
  • The cancer rate has steadily increased since that time

So should we be scared of coffee?  Is it a cancer causer?  Personally, I don’t think so, as long as we are moderate in our consumption.

But we should be scared of all the foods that weren’t foods in 1900.

  • All the processed foods that we’re assaulted with
  • All the foods packaged in what wasn’t packaging since that time (i.e. plastic)
  • All the chemicals that have been added to our food
  • All of the genetically modified foods

Add to that all the chemicals that have been added to our water, and that are in the air, and that are in the packaging surrounding our food.

Hmmm, was all that there prior to 1900?  No.  But since then we’ve seen the slow yet ever advancing rise of cancer.  So where should we point the finger?  Is it acrylamide?  Is it coffee?

Highly doubtful!

While I’m no scientist I do try to think (which is a discipline that seems to be a vanishing aspect of the human condition).  And looking at the evidence I’ve got to think that natural food and naturally occurring acrylamide and all those other naturally occurring substances probably aren’t too much of a problem since people have been frying, baking, and roasting since the discovery of fire.

Whew, after all that exertion time for a cup of coffee, acrylamide be damned!

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Trip That Made A Difference

I recently visited the good folks at Watermark Coffee.   They are located in City West, south of Dublin.  Watermark is run by David & Margueritte Lawlor and they are the Gaggia coffee machine dealer for Ireland.  They have a beautiful showroom with all kinds of Gaggia machines—which are works of art in themselves—on display.

If you are interested you can purchase or rent machines from Watermark for your coffee shop, workplace canteen, restaurant, hotel, even your home.

So being coffee roasters first and coffee makers second it was great to see a master at work.  David really opened my eyes to how much difference a good coffee machine and an expert barista can make to the cup of coffee you’re drinking.

I knew this on some level but since I’ve never spent a lot of time barista-ing myself and making espressos, cappuccinos, lattes, etc. (but I have spent a lot of time drinking them).  The trip brought me a whole new appreciation for what David was doing.

He opened up a bag of our Bantam’s Brew (the iconic Mocha-Java blend) whole bean coffee and poured it into his grinder and then went to work.  He was using a big, professional coffee machine that had the ability to change the temperature of the water that was being pushed through the coffee grounds.

So he took a dose of finely ground Bantam’s Brew, about 16g, tamped it down and locked it onto the espresso machine.  He dialled the temp in to 93C and produced a very nice cup of espresso.  Light acidity, layered with flavour and all in all a very agreeable cup of coffee.  I was impressed.

But David didn’t stop there.  He wanted to see just how much flavour he could get out of the coffee.  So he tried it at 91C and then 87C, jiggering with the grind size and dose size as he went along.  After four different renderings of espresso I thought he was done (and I knew I wouldn’t have any trouble staying awake on the long drive home) but no, he wasn’t.

As an aside here I think the word passion is one of the most overused words in the coffee business, and for that matter, most businesses.  If you talk to people in the coffee industry you’ll find that everyone is passionate about coffee.  But that simply isn’t so.  Collins Dictionary defines passion as: a strong affection or enthusiasm for an object or concept.  And ardent love or affection.  If you look up ardent you find that it means intensely enthusiastic.  Which made me think of zealous.  Zealous is defined as filled with or inspired by intense enthusiasm and then it gives the synonyms fervent which means intensely passionate.

You know, I know people who don’t feel that strongly about their spouse, or kids, or their faithful dog who dragged them down the mountain and saved their life.  But in David’s case I could see I had found a person who was truly passionate, fervent, zealous, ardent, and intensely enthusiastic about coffee.

So back to the good stuff . . .

David, still on the quest for the best that Bantam’s Brew could be, brewed it at 89C and made the grind a bit finer.  WOW!  Talk about good!  The best cup of coffee I’ve had since I moved to Ireland!  And it was made with coffee The Lovely & Talented Roast Mistress had exercised her passion on only five days previously.

What’s the point of all this?  Well I just had to tell you how wowed I was by the espresso shots that David ‘pulled’ for us, and how impressed I was with his barista talents, and how fantastic I found out our coffee really was!  (I knew it was great stuff but he took it to a whole new level.)  Also I wanted to demonstrate to you how one coffee can taste so many different ways when in the hands of a master craftsman.

So if you want to develop your passion for coffee start experimenting with your equipment at home and then when you’re ready, take the plunge, get some really good machinery and dive into the 360° experience.  Who knows where it might take you.  It took David from his old gig seven years ago in the waste disposal industry to a job he can’t wait to get to every day.  Not unlike The Lovely & Talented Roast Mistress and myself finally deciding to quit talking about becoming coffee and start doing it.  Start small – we started roasting on our stove top, and I’m sure David probably started with one entry level espresso machine.  Just start though, I guess that is really the bottom line.  Who knows where starting might lead you – whether coffee or something else you’re really into.

I think you’ll be glad you did!

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

How Coffee is Processed

Coffee is processed in several ways.  Let’s start with the coffee cherry which is the fruit that is harvested from coffee trees.

When Red Rooster Coffee receives its coffee order the ‘meat’ of the cherry, the pulp, has been stripped off and we get a 60 kilo bag full of the seed that is inside the cherry – the small green bean.

That’s simple enough.

What is really interesting, and what has an amazing impact on the taste of your coffee, is what happens to the cherry between picking and becoming the bean that we roast and deliver to you.  In other words, how it is processed.

Typically there are three ways to process the coffee.  There is Dry Processing, Wet Processing, and something in-between called Semi-Wet Processing.  And there is also a very interesting processing technique unique to the Malabar coast of India called ‘Monsooning’.

Dry Processing:

This type of processing, also called the Natural Method, is the oldest form of processing coffee.  Very simply the coffee is picked and then dried in the sun.  Usually the coffee cherries are laid out on a large concrete slab, a patio, or on raised tables.  Then they are regularly turned over, a few times a day, so they can dry evenly.  Drying the cherries can take a month or more.

Surely, at least once in our life, you’ve left a plum or a peach in your window sill until it is a completely dehydrated leathery . . . blob.

As the skin of the cherry, the exocarp, and the meat underneath the skin, the mesocarp, which includes the sticky, sugary substance around the bean called mucilage, dry in the sun you can imagine the chemical changes going on inside that blob.  The sugars, the acids, the enzymes evaporating or concentrating and seeping into the seed—the coffee bean.

At night or when it rains the cherries are covered.  And when the moisture content in the cherries reaches 11% it is coffee time.  The blobs are removed from the patio, or the raised tables, and stored for processing.

Now the dry process coffee will have to be ‘hulled’—the dried cherry pulp is removed leaving only the bean.  Since most coffee farmers are small operators, usually farming just a few acres, it isn’t economically feasible for them to own the equipment to do the hulling so they usually bring their coffee to the local coffee mill or to a cooperative they belong to that owns the equipment.

After hulling the coffee beans are sorted, graded, bagged and sold.

Even though this is a less expensive way of processing coffee than the wet method that doesn’t mean that the coffee produced is inferior.  No, not at all.  Many growers and drinkers alike think the dry processing method yields a more complex cup.  So we wouldn’t say it is better or worse than coffee processed by the other methods, just different and something else to explore on your coffee tasting journey.

Wet Processing

This method is much more labour, machine, and resource intensive – which means the final product costs quite a bit more.  That price though pays for a coffee that is usually regarded as producing a far superior, better tasting cup.

The wet process—also called Parchment Coffee, Washed Coffee, and Plantation Coffee—starts with more selective harvesting, choosing the best, ripest beans and leaving the others until they are properly ripe.

Next the cherries are sorted and cleaned in running water and then as soon as possible after picking they are ‘pulped’.  Pulping is done by running the beans through a machine that removes the skin and meat of the cherry, leaving just the sugary mucilage, or parchment behind, still clinging to the bean.

Next the beans are run through a series of vibrating screens to further clean them and are washed again.  Then they are moved to big concrete fermentation tanks for 24-36 hours.  Here natural enzymes are used to attack the remaining pulp and mucilage surrounding the coffee bean, breaking it down so that most of it can be washed away. What is left surrounding the bean is called the ‘parchment’.  The dried mucilage.

By the way, in countries such as Ethiopia, where water is a scarce commodity, you can see how this process adds to the cost of the coffee.  Ecologically sensitive farms reprocess the wastewater along with the pulp and mucilage as compost to be used in soil fertilization programs.

Now the washed coffee is dried in the sun much like its ‘natural process’ cousin.  This time though, since only the bean, instead of the whole cherry, is being dried, this process is reduced from 30 days or so to 8 – 10 days.  On some high production plantations large drying machines are used to speed up the process.

All these processes are very carefully monitored as too much or too little at any stage along the way can detrimentally affect the coffee’s taste.

Finally the wet processed coffee is cured.  The dry parchment is removed in a hulling process and then the coffee is sorted and graded.  Most all of this work is done by hand.

Semi-Dry Processing

This is more or less a combination of the two previously described coffee processing methods whereby the cherries are initially wet processed but are not put in a fermentation tank to remove the mucilage (and any remaining pulp).  Instead of the fermentation tank the coffee is now dried and processed according to the dry process method.

Monsooned Malabar Process

This processing method is unique to the others and requires a bit of a history lesson.

During the time of British rule in India coffee was harvested along the Malabar Coast in southwest India and shipped to Britain.  During the long sea voyage, taking six months or so in a sailing ship, the coffee stored in the hold was subjected to the moist, salty, sea air and its taste was affected – evidently for the better.  The green beans swelled to about double in size and their colour changed from green to a mellow yellow, golden color.

With the advent of steam ships, travel time was greatly reduced and the exposure time of the coffee beans to the sea air was lessened accordingly.  The great flavour of the Malabar coffee that people had come to love was lost.

Since people still wanted the taste of long ocean voyage coffee which had more depth, richness, and character, it was discovered that the coffee could be ‘monsooned’.  In this process the coffee is stored in special warehouses and during India’s monsoon, or rainy season which runs from June through September, the walls of the warehouses are opened up to let the moist air circulate among the beans.  Since the monsoon is blowing in off of the ocean it is salty sea air.

The beans are transformed, reaching back in time to produce a coffee every bit as good as the coffee that had spent months in the hold of a sailing ship.  The taste, flavour, and aroma of Indian Malabar coffee is recreated when it is properly monsooned.

As you can see, just as the taste of most every coffee is distinctly different, the various processing methods all have their own way of adding to or taking away from the taste of your coffee.

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Coffee Roaster’s Journey

There’s a guy on YouTube named Gary Smith who is the owner of Mukilteo Coffee.  I just love his passion.  He’s been a coffee roaster for 30 years and he still seems pretty happy about it, ecstatic even (visit his website here:  In fact Gary seems to be the embodiment of a typical coffee roaster – very passionate about his product, yet doesn’t take himself too seriously and seems always to be ready for a little bit of mischief.

You can watch one of his YouTube videos here:

In fact if you spend some time on YouTube you can learn quite a lot about coffee roasting and the whole process from bean to cup.

So what’s the point here?, you ask.

It is about five o’clock in the morning, I’m drinking a fantastic cup of Kenya Acacia, the birds are chirping, it’s cool (not 30C yet!), and I just happen to be thinking of what an interesting business coffee roasting is and the 20 year journey from concept to reality that The Lovely & Talented Roast Mistress and I took to get here.


20/20 hindsight asks me the haunting question – Why didn’t you jump in way back then you dum-dum?  By the way, the ‘dum-dum’ is me.  How could it ever be the case with TL&TRM?, or as one insightful customer has dubbed her – The Patron Saint of Kick Ass Coffee.


You see coffee roasting is one of those unique businesses that often goes from love to commerce.  I don’t think there are a lot of folks out there who are neutral about coffee who get into the roasting business.  In fact once you do you find out that it is a pretty tough business.

Through it all though it is one of those businesses that, because of the passionate people involved, is a joy to be involved with.  Just take a look at this website’s testimonial page and know that just about every day we are humbled as coffee drinkers across Ireland and beyond extol the savoury delights of Red Rooster Coffee.

And while we’ve got competitors, most of them feel that there is plenty of room for everyone.  So if we’ve got a problem, or need some advice, or if another roaster calls and asks for help, we’re thankful to receive it and happy to give it.  I can’t think of too many businesses where there is such an interchange of information and encouragement so happily given.

Just the other day we had one wholesale customer, a very seasoned and sophisticated coffee buyer, who demanded that we charge him more money because, as he said, such good coffee deserves more profit.  Now where are you going to find that in the knock-down-drag-out world of commerce!?!

So it has been an interesting journey and we’re gladly realizing what we always knew, what the business books often encourage — Do what you love and love what you do.  That is advice that is right on target.  You’re probably not going to get rich, certainly not without years lot of hard work, but at least when you get up at five in the morning it is likely you’ll be motivated to count your blessings and write about it for your blog.

(If you are getting up at five o’clock in the morning to ruminate about your work, and it isn’t putting a smile on your face, it’s time to do something about it.  The clock is ticking!)

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Coffee Bags – A craft project waiting for you?

Here on the Red Rooster Coffee blog we often talk about the technicalities of coffee – how to store it; the reason for the foam head on the coffee, and more.

For today though, since the roastery is filling up with the large bags that our green coffee beans come in I thought I’d take a diversion and look at what some creative people do with these bags.  Maybe you’d like to take on a similar project and we’re glad to provide the bags to you free of charge.  Just give us a call to see what we’ve got available.

First off let’s take a look at the bags themselves.  Here in Ireland I usually hear the term ‘burlap’ given as the name of the fabric used to make the bags.  That’s common in America too, but on the continent it is often called ‘Hessian cloth’ and the term ‘gunny sack’ is synonymous with ‘burlap bag’ and ‘hessian sack’.

If you can conjure up the lyrics of the old Chuck Berry song Johnny B. Goode you’ll remember that ‘Johnny used to carry his guitar in a gunny sack’.

The bags are made primarily of jute and sisal although some polypropylene bags are starting to be seen.  Jute is a plant grown primarily in Asia, with production mainly centered in India’s state of Bengal, and the adjoining country, Bangladesh.  Jute has a bambooish look to it.  After harvesting and drying it is then processed into fabric.

Sisal comes from a much different looking plant and is grown in many different places but main production comes from countries in South America and Africa and some Caribbean island nations.  Sisal got it’s name from the port of Sisal in the Yucatan, Mexico, although no sisal plants grow in Sisal itself.

These two renewable sources produce a heavy fabric with a diverse, almost unlimited use potential.  Let’s examine just a few.

THROW RUG: Here you can find quite a comprehensive tutorial on making a throw rug out of a coffee bag —

PLANTER POT: The ingenious blogger at Apartment Therapy champions the use of empty coffee bags as planters.  If you love gardening but aren’t a huge fan of plastic pots this could be the answer for you.  To make the burlap ‘pots’ all you need is a burlap bag and scissors.  Read about it here:  And this website also has several uses of these sacks in your garden with maybe a bit more practical advice:

PILLOWS: Lot’s of folks make pillows with the empty coffee bean bags.  You can find lots of examples of this on the web.  Here’s one blogger’s step-by-step guide which we’ve referenced mainly because we have the exact same Colombian coffee bag she uses in her tutorial:

DOG BED: Because of their size a burlap bag make a good dog bed for medium to large dogs.  Our dog loves it but because he’s a Labrador and has never outgrown his desire to eat everything his bed often ends up in tatters.  That probably wouldn’t be the case with you.  While this website doesn’t offer a tutorial because they are selling their dog beds, if you’re at all handy with a sewing machine this picture will tell you the whole story of how they do it.  Or you can simply stuff the bag and sew the open end closed.

MORE STUFF: And chosen at random, although you can find several similar websites, is an eclectic mix of projects – burlap covered headboards; upholstered chairs covered in burlap; burlap matting used in picture framing; burlap covered pinup information boards and so much more.  So you’ll get a lot of good ideas here: , and I found a zillion more on Pinterest but I’m sure you can come up with plenty of original ideas on your own.

Get creative and have some fun.  And if you do make some original creations – with bags from us or another coffee roaster – send us a picture so we can post it here.

Now go to it!

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Taxes Explained in Coffee

Suppose that every day, ten men go out for coffee and the bill for all ten comes to €100… (they’re drinking Kopi luwak* of course).

If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this…

The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing.
The fifth would pay  €1.
The sixth would pay  €3.
The seventh would pay  €7.
The eighth would pay  €12.
The ninth would pay  €18.
The tenth man (the richest) would pay  €59.

So, that’s what they decided to do.

The ten men drank in the cafe every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until one day, the owner threw them a curve.

“Since you are all such good customers,” he said, “I’m going to reduce the cost of your daily coffee by €20”.  Coffee for ten would now cost just €80.

The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes.

So the first four men were unaffected.

They would still drink for free.  But what about the other six men, the paying customers?

How could they divide the €20 windfall so that everyone would get his fair share?

They realised that €20 divided by six is €3.33.  But if they subtracted that from everybody’s share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his coffee.

So, the cafe owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man’s bill by a higher percentage the poorer he was, to follow the principle of the tax system they had been using, and he proceeded to work out the amounts he suggested that each should now pay.

And so the fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% saving).

The sixth now paid €2 instead of  €3 (33% saving).
The seventh now paid €5 instead of  €7 (28% saving).
The eighth now paid €9 instead of  €12 (25% saving).
The ninth now paid €14 instead of  €18 (22% saving).
The tenth now paid €49 instead of  €59 (16% saving).

Each of the six was better off than before.  And the first four continued to enjoy their coffee for free.  But, once outside the cafe the men began to compare their savings.

“I only got a euro out of the €20 saving,” declared the sixth man.

He pointed to the tenth man,”but he got €10!”

“Yeah, that’s right,” exclaimed the fifth man. “I only saved a euro too.  It’s unfair that he got ten times more benefit than me!”

“That’s true!” shouted the seventh man.  “Why should he get €10 back, when I got only €2?  The wealthy get all the breaks!”

“Wait a minute,” yelled the first four men in unison, “we didn’t get anything at all.  This new tax system exploits the poor!”

The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up.

The next night the tenth man didn’t show up, so the nine sat down and had their coffee without him.  But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important.  They didn’t have enough money between all of them for even half of the bill!

And that, boys and girls, journalists and government ministers, is how our tax system works.

The people who already pay the highest taxes will naturally get the most benefit from a tax reduction.

Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up anymore.

For those who understand, no explanation is needed.

For those who do not understand, no explanation is possible.


Original content by:  David R. Kamerschen, Ph.D., Professor of Economics


A friend sent this to me and I got a good laugh out of it.  I hope you do to.

*Kopi luwak, or civet coffee, refers to the beans of coffee berries once they have been eaten and excreted by the Asian Palm Civet.  The name is also used for marketing brewed coffee made from those beans.  A kilo of green Kopi luwak coffee beans runs about  €116 at today’s market price.  But since you lose about 20% of the coffee weight during roasting the actual cost is more along the lines of  €140 per roasted kilo.  You can read more about this very unique and sought after coffee here:

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Coffee Aroma — Intoxicating science

Aroma is a huge part of coffee’s allure.  My sister-in-law likes coffee.  My sister-in-law loves coffee’s aroma.

You know it is true.  We’ve all been there.  It’s early in the morning, maybe the sun hasn’t even made an appearance.  You’re somewhere between la-la land and semi-consciousness and then you smell it.  That coffee aroma has wafted into your bedroom and triggered sensors in your body telling you that something good is going on in the kitchen.

Then you catch the smell again, lilting through the door and giving you a gentle nudge.  You smile.  Some lovely soul has got the coffee on.  And smelling that coffee, having it shake you gently awake has made greeting the day a whole lot easier.

The beauty of all of this is that you haven’t had to consider the hundreds of chemical reactions that have had to take place to bring that lovely coffee aroma to your bedside.

The Coffee Research Organization has this to say about the importance of coffee’s aroma and why instant coffee doesn’t measure up to ‘the real thing’ (sorry Coke, coffee’s got you beat by being about 1,000 years ahead of you):

Coffee aroma is responsible for all coffee flavour attributes other than the mouthfeel and sweet, salt, bitter, and sour taste attributes that are perceived by the tongue. Therefore, it might be said that coffee aroma is the most important attribute to specialty coffee. Even instant coffee has the components responsible for stimulation of our taste buds.  The difference, however, is that instant coffee lacks most of the aromatic volatile compounds causing a dramatic decrease in the overall coffee flavour.

That’s quite a bold statement – coffee aroma is responsible for all but a few of our favourite brew’s taste and flavour attributes.  Maybe that’s why The Lovely & Talented Roast Mistress seems so well fitted to life as a coffee roaster – she’s got the most amazing nose!  True, it’s cute as a button, but I’m referring to her over-the-top olfactory capabilities.  It has got to be thousands of times now that she’s emphatically asked me, “Can’t you smell that?” and I reply, “Huh, what smell?”

One coffee website says: What makes [coffee] so fascinating is that it contains as many as 1,000 aromatic compounds that stimulate the coffee drinker’s nose.  Well, here are a few of those 1,000 aromatic compounds that you, my sister-in-law, TL&TRM, and sometimes myself, are waking up smiling to.

Isobutyl methoxypyrazine, also known as Pyrazine gives coffee its earthy aroma.

Methoxyphenol, also called Guaiacol contributes to coffee’s spicy scent (and thus taste).

Butadione, with the common name Diacetyl, provides coffee its buttery flavour.  Pentanedione or simply Pentane also contributes to coffee’s buttery constituency.

Furaneol provides us that wonderful caramel flavour found in so many fine Arabica coffees.  And if you want to impress your friends don’t say Furaneol, say Dimethyl-4-hydroxy-3[2H]-furanone.

I could go on, obviously, since there are at least 996 more chemicals to discuss, but you get the idea.  That cup of coffee you’re holding in your hand is a chemical goldmine, a wonder of creation.

And knowing about the incredible complexity of what goes on to give coffee its aroma may help you pause and concentrate more on the fragrance of your next cup.  Explore it, give in to it, appreciate it, and your coffee drinking experience will be a richer one.

Just don’t get too close to that cup and burn your nose.

(Oh, not to be too technical but you should know that fragrance refers to dry coffee and aroma refers to brewed coffee.)




Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Coffee Ritual — Finding real meaning in a cup of coffee

Rituals are an integral part of our lives.  We’ve got all kinds – religious, work, family, national, and more.  And most of us have some kind of morning ritual that involves a hot cup of coffee or, dare I say it . . . tea (although I must admit, at least to show you that I’m open minded, that I have an afternoon tea and biscuit ritual).

Since my daughter is an early riser our coffee ritual has evolved into something quite wonderful.  There’s a knock on our bedroom door and after a moment she enters with a piping hot pot of coffee, cups, cream, and sugar for those of us who take it.  Then she makes a cup for my wife and I, just the way we like it, and we get to greet the morning with our first cup in bed.  Talk about e-a-s-i-n-g yourself into the day!

This is nice too because we then get to discuss the day with her, what’s up a school, and a dozen other mundane subjects that make up the fabric of life.  This is definitely ‘quality time’ and to me that’s the key to the coffee ritual – social interaction.  In Turkey it is said that to enjoy a cup of coffee with someone is to ensure 40 years of friendship.

And speaking of Turkey, where they’ve been drinking coffee since the mid-1500s there is a much more stylized coffee ritual that has quite a legacy.  According to the website by the mid-17th century elaborate coffee ceremonies were played out at the Ottoman court. “Coffee makers with the help of over forty assistants ceremoniously prepared and served coffee for the sultan.  Betrothal customs and gender roles also became defined through coffee rituals.  In ancient times, women received intensive training in the harem on the proper technique of preparing Turkish coffee.  Perspective husbands would judge a woman’s merits based on the taste of her coffee.”

While much of that ceremony belongs to the past – for obvious reasons – some aspects remain.  “Prospective brides, as a test of their housekeeping skills, are still expected to make and serve coffee to the boys’ parents – and have been known to avoid unwanted marriages by using salt instead of sugar or spilling the coffee all over the guests!”

In France the morning ritual usually includes a freshly baked croissant or baguette with chicory laced coffee (can you smell the aroma?, I sure can!).  In Ethiopia the coffee ceremony, a mostly all woman affair, includes the coffee beans being roasted right there in front of you in a flat pan and then served in small china cups.  In both instances you can sense the social interaction, the joyful banter as you sip your coffee and enjoy your baguette and the cacophony of conversation as families, friends, and neighbours drink the strong Ethiopian coffee.

In a recent Times of India article it said of the Ethiopian coffee ritual that the women “talk about their problems – family problems, health problems and share their experiences. They usually try to find solutions to their problems over cups of coffee.” —

And speaking of the social aspect of coffee the New York Times recently commented that, “for some people that daily contact with a friendly store owner or cashier can tip the balance toward making their workday happier and maybe a little less lonely. That has value, too.”

If you pursue the coffee (or tea) ritual at work and your boss disapproves you should have him take note of this, also from the NY Times article, “Loneliness has been linked to cognitive decline, so workers who banter with their barista or take coffee breaks together are actually doing a service to their organization.  Social bonds that result from daily interactions among co-workers can lead to greater collaboration.  Well-designed beverage areas in the workplace have actually been found to improve productivity. “ —

What was most interesting to me about the NY Times article was the follow-on letters to the editors.  The things people said just confirmed how their coffee rituals helped them, and by extension—us, make important human connections.

Ruth Groebner said that while she enjoys coffee klatching with her co-workers that “I confess to secretly stopping at the corner cart once a week because I need the connection. “Five sugars?” the proprietor teases me, because he knows I like plain black coffee. I always leave smiling — and that feels better than the caffeine.”

And Maribeth Hite wrote that during a tough transitional time in her life her “one daily treat was my six-block walk to a coffee house called Betty’s Bikes and Buns.  The owner and his daytime barista became my friends, and I always looked forward to chatting with them.  And my daily small skim latte kept me going through each difficult day.”

So maybe the bottom line here is that coffee rituals aren’t so much about drinking coffee as they are about consequential and evocative connections with people that make our lives happier and more meaningful.

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment