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  About Roast Style        
          May 3, 2010      
          Second only to the quality of the bean itself, the type of roast applied is the single most important factor affecting a bean’s flavor. Roast styles vary by the degree of heat used and/or the length of time a coffee is held in the roaster. The longer the roast time and/or higher the temperature, the darker and more pungent the bean. As a roast approaches more intense temperatures, a coffee’s body amplifies for a time, acidity diminishes, and varietal characteristics become subdued. A decreased roast time and/or temperature, on the other hand, yields beans lighter in color that retain their natural acidity and distinct "taste of origin" attributes.

Quality green beans entering the roaster represent the potential for impeccably crafted coffee. Whether the beans leave the roaster having lived up to their potential turns on the master roaster’s ability to “read” the beans, based largely on small preliminary roasts conducted to “cup” the coffee at various roast stages. Informed by this process, a final decision is made regarding the roast style best suited to a particular bean. Years of roasting and cupping have enabled Scribblers to develop the peak flavor profile for each of our coffees. Since coffee is an agricultural product affected by variations in growing conditions from one harvest to the next, the process of roasting and cupping is ongoing. Consistency from one roast to the next, or from one crop to the next, is the hallmark of
great coffee.
Roast Style
Bean Characteristics
Medium Light
or Half-City Roast
Light brown color; a roast style applied to inherently flavorful coffees; bright acidity, medium flavor and body
Medium, American,
or City Roast
Medium brown color; stronger flavor, full acidity, varietal (land of origin) characteristics are apparent; the roast style traditionally preferred in the U.S.
Medium Dark, Espresso,
or Full-City Roast
Rich brown color with some oil on bean surface; varietal qualities mellow, body and sweetness increase, acidity diminishes
Dark, Italian,
or French Roast
Very dark brown color with oily surface; acidity and varietal qualities fade, bittersweet notes dominate
Very Dark
or Dark French Roast
Black color with oily surface; acidity is absent, varietal traits are muted, body thins, carbonized flavors dominate

Small-batch artisan roasting is fundamental to our success here at Scribblers. We roast in batches of no more than 25 pounds to give the world’s finest coffees the full attention they deserve. Relying on the human hand rather than a computer, our master roasters carefully monitor the bean’s appearance, sound, and smell during every roast to ensure that each coffee reaches its height of possibility. A soft, dry-processed Brazilian coffee, for example, requires a lighter roast to maximize flavor without harming its fragile bean structure. Some high-grown washed coffees do well at a range of roast styles because their hard beans are able to withstand higher temperatures, yet they display equally favorable flavor profiles at varying degrees of roast. Costa Rica Tarrazu is such a coffee. Still others exhibit celebrated characteristics at a precise point in the roast. Kenya AA, revered for its vibrant acidity and citrus notes, is one. If taken too far into a roast, the Kenyan’s acidity suffers and its fruity notes deepen to pine.

Teasing out a coffee’s finest attributes demands skill, knowledge, and years of experience since beans are in a continual state of flux during roasting. Their flavor distinctions undergo continual transformation as, second by second, a coffee’s body and acidity rises and falls. It becomes a delicate balancing act to shape both acidity and body into a unified whole that complements rather than detracts from the flavor of the coffee.

Identifying the most favorable point in the roast where body and acidity meet for optimum support to flavor is the apex that only experienced roasters can respond to as they dance on the edge, utilizing both art and science, to achieve an exceptional coffee. Clearly, this is not for the faint of heart. Our master roasters have a vested interest in the quality of every roast since the final product ultimately hinges on their intimate knowledge of the beans and capacity to render a perfect roast. Owing to the influences of bean variability and the dynamics of the roasting context itself, a perfect roast is a target too elusive for computer-driven roasting methods.

At Scribblers Coffee Company we employ a range of roast styles and small-batch artisan roasting techniques to ensure that the seeds of possibility our fine green arabica beans represent are translated daily into the skillfully crafted coffees our customers deserve.


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