Artisan coffee really does taste better.
It’s smoother, and the flavours are very apparent. But what does it mean to be an artisan coffee roaster? Let’s take a look.
What Does Artisan Mean?
The official definition of “artisan” in food and drink is below:
“Made in a traditional or non-mechanised way, using high-quality ingredients.”
Here at Two Chimps Coffee, we are proud to match up to the definition. We roast using our sensory skills to monitor the roast and make changes if needed, and our coffees are speciality grade (we will get onto this soon) which are the best of the best.
How are we different?
We don’t see our coffees as just something to sell to our customers. Oh no. We know how special they are, which is why we carefully plan each roast to ensure we get the most out of every bean.
Without a plan, nothing is possible. When the green beans arrive with us, we begin the planning process to ensure we roast to bring the best out of the beans. To start, we test the green beans to discover the density and moisture level. These readings help us to determine how much heat the beans can take to begin with.
Why do we need to know? Well, more heat is required to penetrate through the bean as the bean gets denser. A bean with a lower density will not need as much heat to break through to the centre, whereas a denser bean will need more.
The altitude the beans are grown at usually depicts the density. If the coffee is grown at a higher altitude, it can have a higher density. Whereas if it was grown at a lower altitude, it could have a lower density. This is caused by the greater, or smaller fluctuation in temperatures between day and night. This information helps us to determine the starting temperature of the roast. This is how hot the drum will be as the beans go in.
While planning the roast, we discuss the brewing method the coffee is destined for. If roasting for a filter, we often choose to keep some acidity in the coffee and plan for an earlier first crack. If the brew method is for an espresso, we usually aim to delay first crack. Doing so will start to mute any acidity and let the sugars of the beans caramelise for a little longer.
When roasting, we don’t just turn the beans brown and move onto the next one. We keep an eye on every part of the roast and adjust accordingly if required.
As mentioned, we roast by hand using our sensory skills while following sensory milestones. These are particular smells or reactions that the beans go through, which help us to keep them on track. For the first part of the roast, the beans are taking in the heat. This is drying the moisture out, and the beans begin to emit an aroma, but not the type you would expect. The beans begin to smell similar to Grass, Hay and Bread at different stages. When these milestones happen, we can check the timings are in line with our roast predictions.
As the roast begins, we monitor the ‘rate of rise’. This is so we can be sure the beans spend a specific amount of time in each part of the roast.
After first crack comes the development phase. During this phase, we monitor the coffee very carefully, keeping an eye on the finish temperature. We never over roast coffee, so they never become burnt and bitter. Because we only roast the highest quality of Arabica, we simply don’t need to mask the flavours with these ‘roasty’ attributes.
Throughout the roast, we can adjust the gas pressure and airflow to control the roast to match our predictions. If the roast runs a little quicker than we expected, we can reduce the gas pressure accordingly and record this information for next time.
After roasting, we sample the coffee and make tweaks to the next roast as needed. When we are 100% happy with a roast, it becomes the master profile, and the other roasts of the same coffee follow suit.
The coffees we source here at Two Chimps Coffee are speciality coffees. Speciality coffees are the top grade of Arabica. These coffees come from small farms and cooperatives from around the world. We wouldn’t be able to source these incredible coffees without an importer. The importers we use have direct relationships with the farmers. Using an importer allows us to access these excellent coffees and to share them with you.
After handpicking and processing, the coffees are hand-sorted to remove any defect beans that may have sneaked into the batch. This coffee is then given a quality score using a process known as cupping. Coffee cupping allows the grader, known as a Q grader, to taste the coffee rather than the brewing method. If the coffee receives a Q grade of 80 points or higher, it gains speciality status. This, therefore, means it can demand a much higher price.
For instance, we pay between 30 and 150% more for our speciality coffee.
Choosing Our Coffees
It is important for us to be able to have full traceability of our coffees. We don’t mean just to the country of origin, but as far back to the plot they were grown on. Because of this, from time to time, we do have to change our coffees. Once a harvest has gone, it’s gone. This isn’t a problem for us. In actual fact, we relish in this change. This forms a large part of our ethos that fresh is best.
To start the process of choosing coffee, we request an offer list from our UK importers. Using importers allows us to select coffee from more farms in more countries. The offer list includes information about the coffee, like the country of origin, the farm, the processing method and some tasting notes. Using these tasting notes, we can look for similarities between these coffees and the one we are replacing. If we were replacing a coffee that had fruity notes, we would look for a coffee that had similar fruity elements. We will never find two coffees that are the same, but we try our best to keep the tastes as close to each other as possible.
Once we have found a selection, we request samples. Upon receiving samples, we cup them to see which we prefer. We aim to have between three and six samples, so we have a more extensive variety to choose from. After cupping, we discuss which we prefered and place an order for the winner. Lastly, we arrange to pick up from the warehouse or have the coffee delivered to the Roastery.
More Than Just A Product
We really do care about the coffee we roast. Sure, it’s easier not to care, just chuck them in and turn them brown right? We could do this, but we would all miss out on the flavours and aromas our coffees have to offer. We would just be wasting coffee, and who wants that? Not caring doesn’t make us Artisan Coffee Roasters though does it?
So, there we have it. We are artisan coffee roasters. All this talk of coffee making you thirsty? Head over to our shop to grab a bag of artisan coffee today!Shop Now