Greenwood Lake Roasters Craft Coffee

The Mystery of Coffee, Solved!

Common Misconceptions of Coffee

·       Does dark roast or light roast have more caffeine?

o   Light Roast has more caffeine. Caffeine is destroyed in the roasting process.

·       Should I store my coffee in the refrigerator/freezer?

o   NO! Storing coffee in your fridge is good for your fridge, not for your coffee. The increased humidity in the refrigerator will cause your coffee to develop a flat taste. Coffee is also very good at scrubbing smells out of the air.

·       How long does coffee stay fresh?

o   Coffee is best consumed in the first 3 weeks after roasting, however it will stay fresh for up to 3 months if stored in a sealed bag in whole bean form. Ground coffee (standard drip) goes stale in 20 minutes exposed to air. Espresso grind goes stale in 90 seconds.

·       Why does my coffee taste burnt?

o   Because it probably is burnt! It is common practice amongst many US roasters to “flash roast” coffee, which chars the outside layer of the bean while not fully charring the inside. This practice causes a lingering burnt flavor that consistently overwhelms any natural flavor of the bean allowing big roasters to get away with using any beans they want.

o    In order to develop the rich smooth coffee flavors in fine craft coffees, the starches found in the green coffee bean need to be converted to sugar along with allowing time for the Maillard reaction to take effect. This allows you to explore all of the wonderful natural complex flavors found in coffee.

·       Why can’t I get consistency in my coffee?

o   A better question is; when opening a new bag/can of ground coffee, why does the first pot of coffee taste so much better and all the others just taste like coffee? Simply put, ground coffee goes stale in minutes once exposed to air. (“Just tastes like coffee” is the taste of stale coffee that you have become accustomed too.)

o   The “terroir” of the coffee can change the same beans flavor from harvest to harvest just as you find in wine.

o   Even a few seconds difference in the roaster or a few degrees can cause a big difference in taste of the same bean.


·       Why should I buy whole bean coffee vs freshly ground?

o   Ground coffee goes stale so fast (20 minutes to 90 seconds) that even a freshly ground bag will only guarantee you 1 good pot of fresh coffee. (“Just tastes like coffee” is the taste of stale coffee that you have become accustomed too.)

·       How are coffee beans decaffeinated?

o   There are several processes for decaffeination. The only one certified organic is called the Swiss Water Process where green coffee beans are soaked in a large vat of water. Half of the beans are discarded. A chemical that is naturally found in coffee is added to the liquid to cause the caffeine to clump up. The liquid is filtered to remove the caffeine clumps then placed back on the remaining beans and slowly evaporated to add the coffee essence (minus most of the caffeine) back to the beans.

·       What does coffee actually taste like?

o   That first pot of coffee that tastes so much better, is exactly what those beans really taste like. Arabica coffee beans have a wide variety of flavors, ranging from Fruit, Citrus, Nutty, Chocolate, Sweet, Floral and many more. A good coffee has so much to offer than just waking you up in the morning.

·       What is different about espresso beans?

o   There is no difference! Espresso is a process of extraction and has nothing to do with the bean or roast level. That being said, there are some beans that are better for espresso than others, but that is usually just because they are higher in quality overall.

·       Are high acid coffees bad for me?

o   Acid in coffee contains powerful antioxidants which are widely accepted as being good for you. It is caffeine, catechols and N-alkanoly-5-hydroxytryptamides found in coffee that has been scientifically proven to cause increased acid production in the stomach leading to heartburn. There is no proven evidence of coffee causing acid in the blood to increase, yet a lot of evidence that sugar and high-fructose corn syrup causing increased blood uric acid levels which are commonly consumed with coffee.

o   Acid and Flavor: higher acid coffees tend to have more citrus and floral flavors and just taste better. Low Acid coffees tend to have a bigger body or mouth feel and go better with milk or cream.




A Deeper Dive into Coffee

·       What are cupping notes?

o   Cupping notes are the flavor profiles you should expect to taste when properly brewing a cup of that coffee. These are naturally occurring flavors in the coffee, not added flavors, because of this, they are more subtle than “flavored coffee”.

·       What is the “terroir” of coffee?

o   The terroir of the coffee is referring to the unique attributes the coffee bean picked up from the environment it grew in. Different soil contents, rainfall, amount of sunlight and especially the elevation the plant grew at all contribute to the unique flavor profiles for that coffee.

·       Where does my coffee come from?

o   Different parts of the world follow different practices when growing coffee that greatly changes how the coffee tastes. There are 4 major coffee regions in the world.

o   In Africa, where coffee originated, you will find more heirloom coffee beans that are “naturally processed”.

o   In South East Asia, specifically Sumatra, they use what is called the “wet hulled” process which reduces the coffees natural flavors and acidity while building the body of the coffee and imbuing it with earthy flavors.

o   Central America has a big focus on high acid coffees. This focus creates some of the cleanest tasting coffees with fine citrus flavors.

o   South America has the biggest focus on mass production of any region. Brazil is the number 1 producer of coffee in the world followed by Colombia. Peru is the number 1 Organic Fair Trade coffee producer in the world. Because of this emphasis on mass production, it is hard to find really high quality coffees from these regions.

·       What is a coffee cherry?

o   Coffee beans grow on shrub like trees and are the pits inside the fruit called a coffee cherry. Naturally processed coffees have a very fruity or strong berry flavor to them which is actually the juice of the coffee cherry trapped in the bean.

·       How is my coffee processed?

o   Before coffee beans can be roasted and brewed into a fine cup of coffee, the coffee cherries need to be processed to remove the outer layers of the fruit and dry the beans. There are many different processing methods used with the most common being called Washed, Natural and Wet Hulled.

o   Washed beans strip away the pulp before drying and give you just the flavor spectrum of the bean itself.

o   Natural processed dries the whole coffee cherry in the sun and the outer layers are removed after drying. This method imbues the flavors of the coffee fruit into the bean and over powers the more subtle bean flavors found in the washed beans.

o   The wet hulled process reduces the coffees natural flavors and acidity while building the body of the coffee and imbuing it with earthy flavors.

·       How many species of coffee exist?

o   While only 2 species are currently cultivated for regular consumption (Arabica and Robusta), there are over 100 species of coffee and at least 86 species of coffee that could be considered for consumption, many of which get mixed up with some of the heirloom coffees from Ethiopia.

·       What are coffee varieties (or varietals)?

o   Coffee varieties or varietals are often referred to as the sub-species of the coffee plant, but that is not quite correct. The varieties are better defined as a member of the same species but with a specific gene mutation that gives it a slightly different trait. There are over 30 different varieties of coffee in South America and over 800 in Africa where coffee originated.

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