Roaster, Barista and Customer; Deciphering The Code

Coffee roasting profiles can often be confusing and the tasting notes on bags misleading. As Screen Shot 2013-07-12 at 2.53.50 PMyou develop your coffee pallet you’ll depend less on written descriptions and trust your own sense of taste.

The most common way I hear customers describe a coffee roasts profile are light, medium and dark; Only 3 descriptions for an enormous amount of possibilities.

What do these mean, and how can we help customers find what they are actually looking for?

In the roasting world there are many ways that we attempt to capture the roast more accurately and consistently; The SCAA has color tiles with numerical correspondents, lots of roasters use Agtron (a device that uses infrared light to analyze color and gives out a roast score with a numerical value.) Other still, go by measuring the bean temperature at the termination of roast. (or all 3.)

All this to help us recreate a great roast and deliver a consistent product.

This is just a little peak behind the veil on the science and intuition that goes into roasting. Keep in mind we’re not even touching on the subject of profiling.

As baristas (baristi) we want to provide the customer with exactly what they’re looking for, and sometimes that means trying to read between the lines.

More often than not, someone looking for dark roast is looking for “quality” and that’s what they associate with it. Sometimes they just want something with a heavier mouth feel, but rarely are they looking for a charred and mystical third crack.

So trust your barista intuition and always give your customers the best experience you can, while propelling our industry forward.

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