Updated: Dec 5, 2018
I have always loved coffee. I remember stealing sips of my dad's coffee when I was young. He liked it extra sweet with milk. I thought it tasted wonderful. Unfortunately, I always thought coffee smelled better than it tasted, especially when black! This little inconvenience didn't stop me from
enjoying coffee for years. This all changed a few years back while living in Ethiopia. Our friend, Woinshet, would roast coffee at our house on Fridays. She wanted us to try her coffee, but told me to try it without anything in it first. It was a revelation. Coffee can smell as good as it tastes! This amazing coffee could be found all over the country as the women would roast fresh beans on cast iron skillets on stoves or over fires. No complicated machinery, just perfect coffee.
Upon moving back to the United States, I was dismayed that I was not finding the vast array of flavors that I found in Ethiopian coffee. I tried brand after brand, but they all tasted dark and cried out for at least a splash of cream. What's a girl to do after having the most amazing coffee and then not being able to find it?! Well, I decided to make it myself. I bought every book I could find on roasting and coffee and started learning. I started with a tiny Behmor roaster and set fire alarms off in my kitchen and survived a few rather painful burns. I knew if Woinshet could make delicious coffee with a cast iron skillet and a stove, I could find a way to make the coffee I craved here in America.
During my research I discovered the different "waves" of coffee. Second wave coffee is prevalent
throughout the United States and is typically dark roasted with an emphasis on the roast. Third wave coffee roasts lighter, with an emphasis on the inherent flavors of the coffee bean. Third wave was where I wanted to be. Fortunately, during my learning phase I found other third wave roasters in the States where I could get delicious coffee. Now, I can make it in my roasting room and share the exciting flavors with others.
Where does wine fit into all this? Well, after college I started working at a wine store learned about the many flavor compounds of wine and how to taste it professionally. (Seriously, there are classes where you have to drink wine!!) Wine and coffee share many similarities. Just as a wine-maker cultivates the flavors in the bottle, roasters tease out flavor profiles in coffee. Wine has a vast array of organic chemical compounds that give each wine it's unique flavor. The compounds present in the grapes, combined with terroir, weather, fermentation, and processing create the intoxicating drink we know as wine.
The wine industry has done an excellent job of educating the public on just what it takes to make these special beverages. Some can cost $3, while others can be in the thousands. Some taste exactly the same no matter when or where you buy it, and others taste different with each vintage. Coffee is much the same, however, the coffee process is largely unknown to its fans. Coffee derives its flavor from the compounds present in the bean, the location it is grown, the weather, the fermentation process (how many people know coffee goes through fermentation!?), and finally the roasting process. Some coffees are inexpensive, while other create sticker shock.
What about the taste? Why are some coffees the same year after year, and others change with the season? This gets down to roasting philosophy. There is a fine art to roasting and neither philosophy is wrong. ( Just like wine, know what you like and drink it! There is no right or wrong.) Some roasters are masters at manipulating the bean to bring out the flavors they desire to make a consistent flavor in their coffee year after year. Others, like us here at Carriage House, have decided we want to roast to bring out the unique flavors inherent in the bean, showcasing the seasonality and the unique flavors that change with weather, location, and processing style.
We hope you enjoy discovering the many unique flavors that can be found in coffee. (Ever had a coffee that tastes like blueberry pie? No additives, just from the bean!) Our goal is to provide coffees that showcase a wide range of flavor profiles. Each season will be different, a new flavor to discover with each new coffee lot. Take time to enjoy some coffee.