Q: So James, how do you take your coffee?
A: Black! Good coffee is just too good to add things to it.
Q: What got you started in the coffee roasting business?
A: I started working in coffee when I was in college. I fell in love with all things coffee. From brewing to the origins of coffee to seeing how it brightens a persons day. After college I spent some time traveling and decided to open a coffee business for myself. I served as a roasting apprentice in Guatemala, then came back up to the states to start my business. And here I am!
Q: Where do you get your beans from and why there?
A: I get my beans from all over: Central and South America, Africa, and Indonesia. Coffee is best grown at the latitudes just above and below the equator. I work with importers who have established relationships with the farmers they work with. This allows me to be able to have dialogue with the farmers, and know their story. Everybody has a story, and they're all interesting.
Q: Can you walk us through the roasting process?
A: The process itself is pretty quick, between 10-13 minutes for a batch. Coffee is roasted in a rotating drum barrel with direct flame heat that roasts coffee through conduction and convection.
The first stage of the roasting process takes the moisture out of the coffee. As the coffee continues roasting it goes through the Malliard reaction, the same browning action that causes bread and meat to brown when being cooked.
Once the moisture leaves the coffee makes a popping sound, this is the first of two "cracks". The first crack is the sound of the moisture in coffee reaching the evaporation point. The second crack is a result of gasses in the coffee causing the bean to expand to the point of breaking the cell matrix.
Where you stop the roasting process has a huge effect on the taste of the coffee. A lighter roast highlights the origin of the coffee and the natural flavors of the bean. A darker roast starts to caramelize the sugars in a coffee and carbonize creating chocolatey and smokey notes.
The entire process requires meticulous attention to detail. Each tiny variable can change the profile of the coffee.
Q: What do you think it takes to make a great cup of coffee?
A: There are a few things that make a great cup of coffee. A great coffee for one!
The correct grind is crucial. Too fine and the coffee is overextracted making the coffee bitter. Too coarse and the coffee will taste weak and watery.
Good water. Coffee is over 98% water. If the water doesn't taste good, the coffee won't.
Brewing parameters. If you don't use the correct water to coffee ratio your whole beverage can be ruined.
A good barista is the final essential. Someone to know the list above and be able to consistently create the same beverage over and over. Do all this and you'll have a great cup!
Thanks James for the behind the scenes look at Cup to Cup's Roastery! If you haven't tried Cup to Cup's delicious coffee be sure to stop by our cafe soon for Savannah's best tasting cup!