Crop Talk with Dustin Fleming
Welcome to Crop Talk, our blog series with Barnie’s Coffee & Tea’s Manager of Coffee Programming, Dustin Fleming. No matter which Crop Ex batch you’ve brewed for the day, Dustin’s the man who saw it through, from sourcing to roast.
Today Dustin explains what’s happening as your coffee goes from piping hot to ice cold and shares which coffees taste great at any temperature.
Right out of the gate: should you microwave your coffee, yes or no?
First of all, coffee’s best the way you drink it. If you genuinely enjoy the taste of microwaved coffee, then you should drink microwaved coffee. But I challenge everyone to try coffee the “scientific,” correct way.
To understand what both “ways” are, you have to understand what chemically goes on when you’re making coffee. When you’re brewing coffee, you’re introducing hot water into coffee grounds to brew a hot beverage. Like any other beverage, oxygen is its enemy. Coffee starts oxidizing as soon as you brew it – it’s going stale, it’s acidity is rising. The coffee is starting to get more bitter as it cools and chemically changes. So you’re elevating the bitterness of that already bitter coffee when you reheat it in the microwave.
So let’s talk about coffee as it cools. Is the coffee’s flavor changing, or is it our perception of that flavor that’s changing, due to the heat or lack thereof?
It’s a little bit from Column A and a little bit from Column B. Different spots on your tongue taste things differently at different temperatures. This is why, when we “cup” coffee professionally, we taste it when it’s hot and when it’s as cold as it’s going to get sitting on the table. As coffee cools, you’re going to taste a wider array of flavors because your tongue doesn’t have to fight as hard against that heat and because the coffee’s chemically changing. Your coffee can actually get a little sweeter as it goes down in temperature – it all depends on the individual coffee. That’s why it’s a lot of fun to taste coffee as it cools. You get to experience how its flavor changes over time.
What regions around the world lend themselves to growing coffees that taste great as they cool?
Your sweeter, more acidic coffees tend to work best in this case because, if you start with a higher pH level, there’s still some acidity there for balance as the coffee oxidizes and that pH level drops. These coffees typically come from Kenya, Ethiopia, Berundi and Central America. That being said, you have to take into account the roast, as well. If you really over roast your coffee, that bitterness is going to be front and center no matter what, and if you under roast, that coffee is going to sour as it cools.
Are there certain temperatures that you’re going to start seeing those flavor changes occur at? Is there a temperature for drinking coffee?
Anywhere between 165 to 175 degrees is optimal drinking temperature for coffee. That’s where the coffee’s different flavors really open up and where the coffee’s just hot enough to be satisfying. Depending on what you’re drinking from, it should take about three to five minutes for your coffee to reach that temperature.
With your Ethiopian and Kenyan “high altitude” coffees, you’ll notice the flavor changing as soon as it’s poured. For me, if I’m drinking a 12-ounce mug of high altitude coffee, there’s almost a different taste with every sip. Right out of the gate you might get pineapple, chocolate and apricots, but as it cools you might get some blackberry-blueberry funkiness until it’s stone cold and you’re drinking straight blackberry pie.
Are there any Crop Ex coffees you’re getting ready to debut that do well at every temperature?
We’re getting ready to bring in a new Ethiopian, a naturally processed, high altitude “fruit bomb” coffee. It’s going to have a lot of zesty lime, orange, pineapple acidity to it – I’m a real fan of it, and we’ll see how it comes out in the roast.
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