On Saturday, June 25th we held the first ever official gathering of the Rocky Mountain Craft Coffee Alliance (more info about this group available at www.rmcca.com). There had been talk and some meetings throughout the last year about getting roasters, cafes, and anyone associated with craft coffee together in order to build and strengthen the coffee community in the Rocky Mt. region. Knowing that the new Sensory Science class that is being designed for this years Roasters Guild Retreat by Paul Songer would need to be beta tested, we seized upon that opportunity to build an event around it where we'd be able to put on some workshops as well that played off of the sensory science test design ideas presented in that lecture.
After the Sensory Science lecture in the morning, the first workshop was on roasting and focused on roast development. The question posed by this workshop was what the impact was of roast length/time (not level) on the cup, specifically the perception of acidity. Using the stand-by exercise of executing three roasts at three different roast times but at the same roast level (color and temp). For this exercise, you can stretch out the roast at the beginning (drying) stages of the roast which would lead to baked characteristics, but for this workshop we decided to stretch the roasts out after the first crack. This approach would lead to over and under development, specifically in regards to perceived acidity.
For roasters, we had the Quest, a 2 barrel Primo propane powered sample roaster that Nolan and Scott from Ozo Coffee in Boulder had brought that Erich from Novo also roasted on, and a single barrel Probat PRE 1Z electric sample roaster that Vaj from Boxcar Coffee in Boulder held court on. The coffee that we used was El Salvador Finca Siberia Bourbon, a coffee with classic bourbon characteristics which would clearly reflect the impact of the exercise. While each station had some unique final roasts, the results of the exercise were clear.
We know that both chlorogenic acids and trigonelline have a strong presence in lighter roasts and are reduced with darker roasts, but when a coffee is roasted to the same level at different total roast times the perception of these acids and compounds is also effected. In a short roast where development is rushed through and after first crack there is a strong presence of chlorogenic acids and trigonelline, but because of the development these elements are perceived at the very front of the palate and are very aggressive. In a roast where development is stretched out though and after first crack, the elements are muted even in a lighter roast. This would lead me to assume that increased exposure to the roasting environment and not just roast degree leads to the degradation of these elements. With a medium paced roast development, these elements are perceived more in the middle of the palate and promote not just the sense of balance, but also a sense of dynamic in the cup with peaks and valleys. I feel like this also better articulates complex flavors, sweetness, and the finish of a coffee. This clearly demonstrates the importance of chlorogenic acids to lively coffee flavors. What I feel this exercise best demonstrates is that the perception of chlorogenic acids and trigonellines can be a great sign post to help you discern whether or not you're properly developing your roasts.
For the Brewing Workshop, I did 4 roasts of the super versatile Siberia Bourbon: Ctiy, City+, Full City, & Full City +. We rotated through Clever, V60, Press Pot, and Toddy cold-concentrate brew methods. THe question posed in this workshop was how different roast levels of the same coffee performed in different brew methods and if certain brew methods better showcased different roast levels.
The Toddy cold-concentrate of this coffee at City+ was intensely candy sweet, like cherry taffy. At FC, it still had a nice sweet fruit note, but a distinct chocolate in the finish. In the press pot, I felt like the City roast had some good cinnamon, but also a tad grassy. Roasted Coffee Pictorial Guide. ">FC+ had rich molasses cookie and after a a few sips and letting it open up you got some cherry in the middle of the palate. Definitely a roasted note, but nothing smoky. A number of people preferred the C+ in the press, while I thought that it was nice but lacked balance in this prep. In the Clever, there were a lot of almond, maple and cake batter notes throughout the whole roast spectrum. There was also more noted fruitiness in each roast level. I felt like City+ and Full City were the best cups here. The V60 really stood out compared to the other methods that all involved dwell times. Here, the City+ was the star in my book, while I also felt like this was the best showing of the City level with some tea character and bright fruit.
All in all this was a really fun day that I personally walked away from with a lot of enthusiasm, deeper understanding of aspects of our craft, and a lot of hope for expanding on the ideas and opportunities presented by this event. There was such a great sense of community through the whole day which carried into the reception and barista rodeo at Bean Cycle later in the evening. It is always so invigorating to get a group like this in a room together with some focused experimentation and the spirit of sharing experience.
Thank you to everybody who put the time into the planning and execution:
Everyday Joe's, Paul Songer, Bean Cycle, Allegro, Novo, Ozo, Boxcar, Little Bird, Toddy, support from the Sweet Maria's/Coffee Shrub Oakland Krew, and a special thank you to everyone who attended!