Finding Your Roast: Tips from Roastmaster Stacy Hawkins

No matter what your personal preference pertaining to coffee may be, there is a roast out there that would perfectly suit your unique taste. Our roastmaster, Stacy Hawkins, shares his insight on how certain roasts can bring out the best in coffee to create the perfect cup for any coffee lover. 

I’m looking at these beans; Unroasted beans, uniform in size and shape, with a beautiful bluish-green color. I just know that these beans are going to taste great roasted, but that all depends on how they are roasted.

How foods are cooked (or roasted) plays a huge role in the quality of the finished product. Of course it helps to start with top-notch ingredients, but that doesn’t necessarily guarantee that the end result will taste good. Imagine taking a steak, a prime cut of Kobe beef, widely considered to be one of the top cuts in the world, and throwing it on the grill until it is burnt to a crisp. Still think that’s a great steak? Neither do I. It’s the same with coffee beans.

Knowing the characteristics and flavor attributes of the beans is crucial in determining how they should be roasted. An East African or Central American coffee may have its inherent brightness and acidity enhanced with a lighter roast, whereas a deep, earthy Indonesian coffee can handle a darker roast and still showcase its bold, hearty flavors. This is not to say that a dark roast Kenyan will not taste good, or that a medium roast Sulawesi is ruined. However, with high-end specialty coffees, the goal of roasting is usually to highlight the unique qualities of each particular coffee. Roasting truly enhances the coffee drinking experience when the differences in each coffee (however subtle they may be) are brought to the forefront in the roaster.

There are, however, general preferences in different parts of the country on how dark or light coffee should be roasted. Coffee drinkers on the west coast, particularly in the Northwest, tend to prefer a much darker coffee, while the East Coast coffee lovers may not want theirs quite so dark. While these may be general geographical preferences, coffee drinkers are a very diverse group. Consumers everywhere are beginning to pay much more attention to the coffee they drink, even if coffee is nothing more than a method of caffeine intake.

However you like it, dark or light, bold or bright, H.C. Valentine has you covered.