Black as death and sweet as love
“Coffee should be hot as hell, black as death and sweet as love”. There are many variations on this Turkish proverb however each would cause the coffee purist to turn in their proverbial grave. (I’m assuming they’ve gone to heaven!)
Today in the speciality coffee business it’s all about teasing out those cherry, grapefruit and caramel notes that so define the terroir of that coffee origin. But what if your customer is simply demanding a coffee that delivers a punch. A dark heavy richness with the subtlety of a car crash.
We offer a huge range of amazing coffees but one variety that is currently missing, according to some of our customers, is that “car crash” coffee. Something that moves from the nostrils to the brain with such speed, it’s as if you’d just touched a live wire or just met the girl/guy of your dreams (that’s the sweet as love part).
That got me experimenting with the green coffees we stock. To check out whether one of those super delicate beans could be transformed into the coffee from hell whilst still retaining that sweetness of love.
As someone who doesn’t have much experience in roasting coffee super dark in the same way someone from Naples or southern Portugal does, it was an interesting exercise in identifying which coffees simply taste dark and burnt as opposed to dark roasted whilst retaining a degree of complexity.
We checked out an Indian speciality robusta, an excellent washed Colombian Excelso and finally a semi-washed single estate Brazil. We went through first crack, that’s the point at which the coffee becomes drinkable, through second crack (full medium roast) and then onwards into the realms of the unknown. You then pull the coffee from the heat based on gut feel, instinct and experience.
So, what is the impact of roasting coffee “hot as hell” in the cup? Surprisingly diverse was the conclusion of our tasting. We tasted everything brewed through our espresso machine as this is the primary way in which our customers purchase their drink from us whether it be an americano, cappuccino or latté. The Indian robusta, for which I held out such high hopes, disappointed. Whilst retaining some of its earthy characteristics, it lacked depth. The Colombian I was a little unsure of, as a medium roasted coffee it is well balanced and an in-store favourite - going dark inevitably destroyed that delicacy but no new complexity came through as hell beckoned.
So, what about the Brazil? Well this turned out to be a complete revelation. Although this has a deliciously light caramel flavour as a medium roasted coffee, going dark really brought out a whole new range of complexity. A thrilling new coffee has been born at Cooper’s!