03. March 2020

An exploration of coffee roasting

1 x coffee

Fazenda Bonfim - Natural Mundo Novo
(250g / 5.3oz)

Kr. 169,00

2 x coffee

Fazenda Bonfim - Natural Mundo Novo
(250g / 5.3oz)
Chapadao de Ferro - Natural Mundo Novo
(250g / 5.3oz)

Kr. 239,00

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An exploration of coffee roasting

This month’s subscription focusses on the concept of roasting. Here, we present two rather similar lots from Brazil, both made up of naturally processed Mundo Novo grown near the city of Patrocínio in the centre of the Cerrado Mineiro region. However, they have been roasted using rather different philosophies, with the profile for the Fazenda Bonfim designed by ourselves at La Cabra, and for the Chapadao de Ferro designed by our friend Nobuaki Matsui, roaster at Democratic Coffee here in Copenhagen. Both have been roasted on our Loring 35 kg roast machine in Frederiksberg, but the facets of the coffees revealed are rather different. Below is a short illustration and description of the contrast between Nobuaki’s and our roast philosophies.





First it is important to explain the charts above. Our roast of the Fazenda Bonfim is shown in red, and Nobuaki’s roast of the Chapadao de Ferro is shown in blue. The heavy lines are a plot of the bean temperature probe throughout the roast, where we can see for instance the temperature of the roaster at the moment the coffee is charged in, and the final temperature the coffee reaches before it is dropped out of the roaster. The lighter lines are the ‘rate of rise’ of the bean temperature, which illustrates how fast the roast is moving in °C per minute, plotted across the whole roast. This is a very important concept while roasting, as it helps us to plan our heat application during a roast, matching the same roast profile every time. The vertical lines show where ‘first crack’ occurs in the profile, with Nobuaki’s occurring just over two minutes before ours.



We can see the main differences between our philosophy and Nobuaki’s here. Our profile is much longer and slower, applying much less heat at the beginning of the roast, but ending at a higher temperature. Nobuaki charges the coffee into a much hotter roaster, and allows the roast to slow down towards the end, spending a greater proportion of the roast at a higher temperature.

Another important concept in roasting is the ‘first crack’. During the middle part of the roast, a set of chemical reactions are taking place within the coffee bean, most of which generate water as a byproduct. As the coffee is above 100°C at this point, this generates a large amount of steam within the bean’s structure, slowly building up pressure inside the bean itself. At a certain point, this pressure becomes too high, and the individual beans ‘crack’, releasing the steam into the roaster drum. Beyond this point the coffee acts very differently, so the time beyond crack is an important phase in the roast. At this point, our roast is moving rather quickly, so the pressure is released quite dramatically. After this point, sugars are caramelising, so our philosophy is to spend a short amount of time here, preserving the natural sweetness and origin flavours of the coffee. We gradually add heat into the roast after the coffee is charged into the drum, starting slowly and allowing time for all of the coffee to come up to temperature before pushing too hard. This allows us to enhance the sweet chocolate and rich dried fruit character in this coffee, while also holding on to a floral note of vanilla. Nobuaki focusses more on how fragile the coffee is after first crack, so would prefer to use less heat to avoid burning the outside of the coffee. The more aggressive beginning of his roast is an aim to ensure that the coffee is already at a high level of development when it reaches first crack, which allows him to use very little heat later in the roast, letting the coffee to develop under its own energy beyond crack. This locks in some of the brighter redcurrant flavours early in the roast, while the longer time spent after crack builds up a delicate black tea dryness and a sweet nutty finish, reminiscent of almond.



Another interesting difference is the method of quality control. We taste our coffees every week on the cupping table in order to tweak and refine our roasting profile, purely relying on taste to decide which is the ideal roast. At Democratic, they normally brew coffees in order to control quality, preferring to taste coffees as they are served to the customer, and analyse the way the coffee acts and its solubility in brewing. This is especially true in espresso, where Nobu and the Democratic team have a rather unique approach. The team here at La Cabra often drink espresso at Democratic’s locations, and we value their refreshing and novel approach. Nobu describes their espresso philosophy as a redefinition of what the drink can be. He feels that often in espresso, the very high strength means that the flavours are pushed very close together so are difficult to fully appreciate. In Nobu’s espresso brewing, he uses much more water than normal, allowing him to grind far coarser and pull faster shots while still reaching a high level of extraction. Their idea is that this minimises the amount of very fine particles that are prone to overextract, and the dilution allows the flavours of the coffee to open up, allowing you to taste each individual layer of flavour, with a juicy and clean structure. If you have an espresso machine at home, try brewing the Chapadao de Ferro with their recipe this month. As a starting point, Nobu suggests a 1:4.5 ratio of dry coffee to espresso yield, brewing in around 15 seconds, aiming for his ideal TDS of around 4.5%. For filter, their starting point is a 1:18.5 of dry coffee to water, aiming for TDS of 1.2%, whereas at La Cabra we aim for higher strength and a slightly lower extraction, using a 1:14.5 ratio and aiming for around 1.4% TDS.

1st coffee - Brazil

Fazenda Bonfim - Natural Mundo Novo

Chocolate, Raisin and Vanilla

(250g / 8.8oz)

Fazenda Bonfim is a family-run farm in the Cerrado Mineiro region of Brazil, not far from the city of Patrocínio. Ariovaldo and his wife both come from coffee-producing families in the state of Paraná, but unpredictable and adverse climate conditions for coffee growing led to a search for a new location to ply their trade. In 1987, they found their way to Cerrado, where they found a much better environment for their plants. Cerrado is a more established coffee producing area, mainly for climate reasons, but this brings other challenges. Initially, the Bonfim family struggled with the higher cost of production in Cerrado, things like machinery and labour cost were much more expensive. They were also now competing to sell their crop with many established and quality focussed producers in the same region. All of this led to two things, they had to increase their productivity on the farm, and learn about and invest in coffee quality.

Over the 30 years since, Ariovaldo and his family have honed their production methods to create a profitable business, and delicious coffee. This is a great example of the potential of the Cerrado region to produce balanced and clean coffees; creamy milk chocolate is joined by a deep dried fruit sweetness, before a finish with hits of sweet vanilla.

2nd coffee - Brazil

Chapadao de Ferro - Natural Mundo Novo

Black Tea, Redcurrant and Almond

(250g / 8.8oz)

Like Ariovaldo Bonfim, Milton Dantas moved from the southern region of Paraná to Cerrado Mineiro with the aim of becoming a coffee producer. He acquired the land that became Fazenda Chapadão de Ferro in 1993, a 29 hectare plot not far from the city of Patrocínio. The farm sits on the cone of a dormant volcano, meaning high altitude and very fertile volcanic soil. This combination of factors means slowly developed and nourished cherries, which are harvested a month or two later than most of the rest of the area.

Over the intervening years, Milton and his family have dedicated themselves to building their business. Eighteen hectares are now planted with Mundo Novo trees, and the excellent level of control applied in the field ensure these yield to their maximum potential. The Dantas family have also started to experiment with and refine their post-harvest processing, creating differentiation in style between their lots. This particular lot is a rather crisp expression of Cerrado, with fresh redcurrant, some rich notes of almond marzipan, and the dryness of black tea in the finish.

Subscribe to get this months coffees

Available from the 3th of March to the 26th of March

1 x coffee

Fazenda Bonfim - Natural Mundo Novo (250g / 5.3oz)

Kr. 169,00

2 x coffee

Fazenda Bonfim - Natural Mundo Novo (250g / 5.3oz)
Chapadao de Ferro - Natural Mundo Novo (250g / 5.3oz)

Kr. 239,00
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A slightly more technical exploration of coffee roasting

We hope you enjoy this slightly more technical exploration of coffee roasting. For our subscribers here in Copenhagen, you can taste the results of our collaboration with Democratic at their new coffee bar in København’s Museum, where you can taste our coffees brewed alongside their’s every day, in beautiful surroundings. It is always interesting and enlightening to discuss philosophy with other coffee professionals, and meet at the cupping table for open discussions on taste. We have enjoyed exploring this collaboration with Nobuaki and the Democratic team, and hope that we have been able to shed some light on the mechanics of how we can influence flavour during roasting.

Stay bright and curious - John Gibson

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La Cabra is a modern coffee roastery based out of Aarhus and Copenhagen, Denmark. Every month we ship out two unique coffee experiences and provide insight into how these coffees were grown and processed by talented producers.

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