Why Coffee Tastes Different at Different Temperatures


It’s true, isn’t it.  Coffee does taste different – a lot different – at different temperatures.  Really hot coffee tastes one way, hot coffee another, lukewarm still another, and you get still more tastes at room temperature, cold, and iced.  Most folks are completely out on coffee the cooler it gets although iced coffee has a strong following.  At least I know it does at my house.

From my research and experience there are two main reasons why coffee tastes different at different temperatures, especially in the low-to-high room temperature range.  What one article calls the “unpleasant no-man’s-land of bitterness.”

Reason Number One is science.  And Reason Number Two . . . will be discussed in our next post.

Science gives us a lot of reasons for this phenomenon of the good-to-bad-to-intolerable taste range that can be found in a cup of coffee.  But we’ll focus on just four for now.

REASON NUMBER ONE:  Research shows that certain taste receptors are more sensitive to taste in the 20C to 35C (68F to 95F) temperature range.  But once the beverage we’re drinking goes beyond that range—hotter or colder, they aren’t telling us much of anything.  So basically you taste more in that room temperature to lukewarm range than the hot and cold ranges.

REASON NUMBER TWO:  When coffee is above about 76.5C (170F) our bitter taste receptors pretty much pack their bag and go home.  They just don’t ‘taste’ above that temperature.  If you think about this you know it is true because you’ve enjoyed a cup of coffee when it was piping hot but crinkled up your nose when you drank it at room temp because it was so bitter (especially instant coffee – yuk!).

REASON NUMBER THREE:  Add to the foregoing that hot coffee is not only outside of your bitter taste receptor’s range but that it is also bombarding your other senses that affect taste, like smell, by the beautiful aroma of hot coffee as well as it’s ‘mouth feel’.  These factors certainly affect your taste experience. 

REASON NUMBER FOUR:  Really hot coffee causes you to divide your focus on taste alone and divert some of that focus to not burning yourself.  Yes, the mind focuses on the fact that this super hot cup of coffee could cause is a problem if we’re not careful so those mental gyrations dilute the overall taste experience.

Certainly there are a myriad of other scientific factors at play here but the next post will get to what I believe, and I think you will too if you experiment, is the key reason for bad tasting room temperature coffee.

You can read more on the subject by following this link (cut and paste it into your browser if it doesn’t click thru):  http://www.lifeslittlemysteries.com/2277-room-temperature-coffee-taste.html

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Robusta Coffee — What is it?

What is Robusta coffee?

In the world of coffee there are two main types of coffee that we consume – Arabica and Robusta.

Arabica is the more tender, gentle, needy of the two.  And Robust, as its common name suggests is more robust and hearty:

  • Robusta can be grown at lower and higher altitudes than Arabica
  • Robusta needs less tending and attention
  • Robusta needs lots less water to grow
  • Robusta produces more coffee cherries (or drupes as the botanists like to call them)
  • Robusta is more of a bush than a tree
  • Robusta is much less expensive than Arabica

So agronomically those are some of the major differences between the Arabica and Robusta.  And we also see quite a difference in the cup as well:

  • Robusta easily has twice the caffeine content of Arabica
  • Robusta tastes a lot harsher than Arabica
  • Robusta is hardly ever drunk straight
  • Robusta is used in a lot of ‘espresso’ blends to add to the boldness or add kick
  • Blends rarely have more than 20% or so of Robusta in them

Because of the recent high prices of Arabica (although they are now coming back down to reality) more and more commercial roasters, the big factory roasters, have kept their prices down because they’ve added more and more Robusta to their blends.  Possibly you’ve noticed that in the coffee you buy, that it doesn’t taste quite like it used to.

Or another trick is that they reduce the amount of coffee in the package.  You used to get 227g in the package and now you’re getting 200g.  Not a big difference to you but spread that out over thousands of bags and 27g starts to add up to a mountain of coffee.

While you may think of Brazil, Colombia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sumatra and others as the world’s coffee powerhouses, the biggest producer of Robusta, by far, is Vietnam.  Estimated crop production in 2013 is 1.5 billion kilos whereas Brazil, the next largest producer comes in at about 950 million kilos.  The third largest producer, Indonesia, is estimated to produce under 500 million kilos.  So you can see what a whopper of a producer Vietnam is.

Since Robusta is so plentiful in Vietnam it is one of the places where people drink it straight.  And like so many other things, once you acquire the taste and get used to it, you can come to prefer it.

There’s a lot more to know about Robusta if you’re a coffee cultivator, bulk buyer, or botanist but for most everyday coffee drinkers the information above should give you a good overview of the plant, its uses, and why you may have noticed a taste difference in the coffee you drink.

By the way, Red Rooster coffee only uses Robusta in its Buzz Bomb blend.  Plenty of buzz, plenty of taste, a big explosion in your mouth.

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Coffee filters–killers? Tea bags–terrorists?

More and more it seems like there is no place to hide no matter how hard you may try to eat right, avoid GMOs, eat organic, etc.  You’re a food lover and you know the drill.  But lurking in your coffee filters and tea bags comes some very disturbing news.

Sadly it isn’t too shocking.

Evidently coffee filters and tea bags, to prevent them from breaking open and leaving coffee grounds and tea leaves in your drink, are often treated with epichlorophydrin.  It saturates and impregnates the entire material of coffee filters and tea bags.  And, here’s the scary news, epichlorophydrin (a chemical mainly used in making epoxy resins) hydrolyzes to the carcinogen 3-MCPD* when contact with water occurs.

That’s where the article ended with coffee filters but it went on to discuss all the hidden health hazards in tea bags.  This was concerning to our family because while we love our coffee, we love our afternoon tea break too.

Some of the newer tea bags are made with different plastics; nylon, rayon, PVC, polypropylene, and more.  And when these plastics are heated, you know when you pour near-boiling water on the tea bag, the dangerous chemicals in the plastic leach out into the tea you’re drinking.  Ugh!

The articles breaking this story have a lot more depressing information and the links are below.

So the coffee filter and tea bag solution?

For coffee you can use a press.  Glass and stainless steel have been proven to be pretty safe vessels for cooking.  If you use a filter machine it’s up to YOU to make sure the brand of paper filter you’re using isn’t laden with harmful chemicals.  You can also switch to a metal screen coffee filter.  These are nice because they are reusable.  Another option would be an old fashioned percolator which is all stainless steel.

For tea the best bet is to use loose tea leaves.  You can also purchase stainless steel strainer balls that you put the loose tea in and then the ball effectively becomes the tea bag.

Here’s where I found the story that prompted this blog: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/04/24/tea-bags.aspx? 

And here’s where he found the story: http://theatlantic.datinggroud.com/health/archive/2013/04/are-tea-bags-turning-us-into-plastic/274482/

*Wikipedia has this to say about 3-MCPD: 3-MCPD or (3-monochloropropane-1,2-diol or 3-chloropropane-1,2-diol) is an organic chemical compound which is carcinogenic and highly suspected to be genotoxic in humans, has male anti-fertility effects, and is a chemical byproduct which may be formed in foods, the most commonly found member of chemical contaminants known as chloropropanols.


Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Coffee Storage Best Practices


Coffee Storage The Right Way


I saw a bag of coffee the other day, made by one of Ireland’s small batch roasters, and one side of the bag was clear so that you could see the coffee inside the bag.  On one hand I thought “that’s cool” and on the other I thought “why?”.

You see light and coffee aren’t best friends.  In fact it is best to keep them as far apart as possible.  Scientifically light

is deleterious to coffee health.  It robs it of freshness and drains away the taste.

Surf the web and you’ll find all kinds of suggestions on the best way to store your coffee once you open the bag so I figured I should give you our recommendations:

1.)    As noted above, keep your coffee out of the light.  So if you’ve got a Red Rooster bag you can just shut the ziplock seal and that’ll keep the light out.  Or if not, keep it in a cupboard or the freezer—but we don’t recommend the refrigerator (see why below).

2.)    Keep your coffee in an airtight container.  Just like light, oxygen is an enemy to coffee freshness.  So if you’ve got a Red Rooster bag just close the ziplock seal and you’re keeping the air out.  Otherwise we like putting the coffee into a glass jar with a rubber seal at the top.  Obviously, put the glass jar into a light-free place.

3.)    Use the coffee within two to three weeks.  For us this is pretty simple as we go through more than a bag a week.  If you’re a slow user we recommend the freezer.

And that’s pretty much it.  No light.  No air.  Use the coffee up in a reasonable time period.

So why the freezer and not the fridge?  Odours mainly.  Most refrigerators have several smells wafting around in them – onions, peppers, last night’s stir-fry, that unidentifiable something-or-other back in the corner that is quickly becoming a science project.  So if whatever you’re storing your coffee in isn’t absolutely airtight then your coffee might taste like that science project.  Yuk!  The freezer doesn’t have those problems because – exactly! – everything is frozen.

Now one word of caution.  If you store the coffee in the freezer then be quick about getting it out of, and back into the freezer.  If you let the frozen coffee start to thaw, and condensate, then the coffee that you want to stay dry until you’re ready to brew it is going to get damp, and you don’t want that.

Ok, all for now.  Drink responsibly!

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Why Foamy Coffee?


Foamy Coffee Means Fresh Coffee

So you just ripped open that new bag of Red Rooster Coffee, scooped out the appropriate amount into your press, added water, and now half of the carafe is filled with foamy coffee.  What’s going on!?!

What you are witnessing is a scientific phenom that is telling you that you have some really fresh coffee there in front of you.

You see, once coffee is roasted it gives off naturally occuring CO2 gas.  So all that foamy coffee you’re seeing is the CO2 “outgassing” in the liquid and giving you that beautiful foam.  We say it is beautiful because it isn’t a sight you often see.  The reason is that most factory roasters roast their coffee and then let it sit around for a few days before bagging it up.  They let all that CO2 outgas and it makes their life easier, and saves them money too.

Because every penny counts with these guys a lot of them don’t have bags with breather valves so if they bagged fresh roasted coffee the bag would blow up like a balloon.  This means they couldn’t get as many bags in a box.  Which means they couldn’t ship as much coffee in their delivery trucks.  Probaby they’d be delivering about 25% less coffee because they were to cheap to fit their bags with a five cent freshness valve.  So they’d rather let you drink old coffee.

So look for the foam.  It is a sure sign that you are, or are not, drinking super fresh coffee!

Oh, and as the coffee is sitting around outgassig, it us usually exposed to light and air (oxygen).  Both of these are killers of coffee freshness.  So keep that in mind when you’re storing your coffee.  Keep the coffee bag well sealed and keep it in a dark place.

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment