Get Smart about coffee roasting

by DGO Web Administrator

OK, Fancy Pants. You like single-origin, fair trade, bird-friendly coffee from places you can neither pronounce, nor point to on a map. But let’s face it, you don’t know your ass from Ecuador when it comes to roasting the stuff. Let owner/head roaster Sage Anderson of 81301 Coffee Roasters set you straight.

How long have you been at this?

My parents own a coffee shop in Winter Park, so I grew up around coffee. In high school, my dad taught me how to roast, and I was his summertime go-to roaster.

Tell us a bit about the roasting process

That’s a big question. There are lots of ways to roast, and everyone has a different opinion. There’s sort of a general agreement on the basics, but from there, everybody has a style. It’s sort of like making a pizza. We all have our own twists.

Walk us through the process a little bit

At 81301, we really only do two kinds of roasts: medium and dark. Nothing here is going to be super light because I haven’t been happy with the results of my experimentation yet. So until I like it, we won’t have it. For a dark roast, the raw coffee is roasted longer, which gives you those nice oils on the ends of the bean. As it sits for the next five to 10 days, it develops more oil and flavor. That’s when it gets really good. You let the medium roast out sooner, so it’s not as dark or smoky flavored, and it won’t have nearly the oil that a dark roast will.

Is it the same bean for everything?

No, no. It varies a lot. For the darks, I tend toward the Colombian or Guatemalan beans. Something that’s really mellow and low in acidity, so that when it’s roasted, you get a lot of oils and not so much of the bean flavor. I want something that sits really nicely on the tongue. If I were to use a Tanzanian for a dark roast, it would come out really spicy and the oils wouldn’t be … pleasant.

Describe the differences in flavor between a dark and a medium roast.

Dark roasts typically are really smooth, shouldn’t have any acidity and should never turn bitter, even as they cool. Ideally, you’d see some of the oils floating on the top of the cup. A good dark roast shouldn’t be hard on your stomach or have any bitterness or bad aftertaste. A medium has a lot of the same characteristics, actually, but that might just be me. I think coffee should be really smooth, and I like coffee to have a developed body to it. I don’t do a light roast because they tend to get sour as they cool, so I’ve tested both of my roasts time and time again to make sure that they’re enjoyable all the way through the cup.

Which of your roasts are you most proud of?

Our Morning Stoke blend, for sure. It’s Guatemalan, mixed with a little bit of the French roast. It’s not totally dark, but it’s definitely enough to get you started in the morning. I created that one when I was still in high school. I liked the taste of the dark roasts, but couldn’t drink a full cup. It was just too much for me. I also liked the Guatemalan, so I started mixing the two until I came on the right proportion. It’s by far our most popular.

There are several roasters in town – what makes you and 81301 different?

Truthfully, my roasting is a little different in profiling and we tend to roast longer than other places. I think that other roasters are so focused on light roasts that they might under-roast a little bit. They’re doing 12- or 14-minutes roasts, and we’re consistently at or a little over 20. You gotta let it cook a little, you know? Let it develop a nice, solid flavor.

True or false: The lighter the roast, the more caffeine?

True. The longer you roast, the more caffeine you kill.

Which is more potent: drip coffee or espresso?

Depends on how dark the espresso bean is roasted, and what it consists of – whether it’s a blend, a single origin light roast, whatever. I don’t think one is more potent than the other.

How many espresso shots can a person drink before they start to get weird?

I don’t know. Probably eight to 10? I’ve seen people have a lot of espresso.

What’s most satisfying for you as a roaster?

I really enjoy watching people discover our coffee here. Seeing people try it for the first time – I really like watching their face. Typically their response is, “Oh my God!” That’s really, really satisfying.

Cyle Talley would really like to watch someone drink eight-10 shots of espresso. If you have plans to or if you have anything you’d like to Get Smart about, you can email him at: [email protected].


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