002-Ask a Coffee Roaster

We have learned so much about what makes a great coffee from our friends at Le Sommet. Here's a conversation we had with Matt, the owner of Le Sommet and an expert roaster/purveyor.

BB: What are some reasons Single Origins are preferred over Blended coffees?

Matt: Single origins bring specific aspects of the region or even specific farm for where that coffee bean originated. They also trend towards bolder flavor notes. Those flavors are carried through into the coffee and then highlighted by roasting at the proper level for that coffee.

How do you know how light or dark to roast a particular type of coffee bean? Why do different regions affect the taste of the coffee? 

Roasting coffee truly is a balance of art and science. Roasters try to find the particular flavor notes to highlight in that coffee by sampling coffee they want to introduce. Coffee from various regions, wet/dry climates, drying process and altitudes of the origin will roast with different outcomes. There are a lot of general flavor similarities in coffee from specific regions, but these can also vary as well. Roasters use a roasting curve to consistently produce the same taste over multiple batches.

What does it mean for a coffee to be fair trade certified? Is that different from being “fair trade”?

Fair Trade is a global movement that is not governed by any one specific body or organization. There are a number of “Fair Trade” organizations that have defined criteria that producers, distributors and manufactures must agree and be transparent in their purchasing/production supply chains to ensure the ecosystem works. There are so many great benefits to the farmers and communities that produce the goods and foods that are consumed across the world. As a consumer you can look for packaging that has recognizable seals from organizations such as Fair Trade USA and Fair Trade International.

When/how often do you roast the coffee? How can I tell if a coffee is freshly roasted?

Le Sommet Coffee is a Micro-batch roaster meaning we focus on very small batches to directly align to the demand of our customers.  This allows us to provide roasted coffee that is most optimal for brewing.  As a consumer you can look at the roast date on the coffee when purchasing at the store, or look for roasters that consistently provide fresh roasted coffee. Look for a local roaster as the coffee will not have to travel across long distances and be stored in warehouses prior to distribution. Optimal coffee brewing is done within 1-2 weeks from the roast date. Coffee will retain most of the peak flavors if stored correctly and packaging includes a one-way valve to release gasses (All of our bags have these values).

On that subject--what’s the best way to store coffee? And do you have some advice on brewing at home? 

Here are 6 simple coffee storage/prep tips:
  1. Purchase coffee as close to the roast date as possible 
  2. If you can, purchase Whole Bean then grind the amount you need just before brewing (Added bonus, your kitchen will smell like a cafe!)
  3. Store whole beans and ground coffee away from sunlight
  4. Keep coffee away from moisture, including storing in a refrigerator or freezer
  5. Coffee can be stored in the original bags if it includes a tin tie, or optimally in a coffee storage container with included valve
  6. Select the correct grind coarseness based on your brewing method

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