Flat, Stale, and Very Profitable: Thoughts on Light Roasted Coffee - Page 12

Discuss flavors, brew temperatures, blending, and cupping notes.

#111: Post by BrendaninBrooklyn »

No, it means you have nothing to sell and are reporting your experiences and observations truthfully. You should not start a YT channel. These are mainly about fantasies and product sales. That end of the pool is too crowded; you should stick with your penchant for honest facts and considered opinions and you will have little competition. ;-)

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another_jim (original poster)
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#112: Post by another_jim (original poster) »


Sadly, there are no heroes and villains here, just producers and consumers. Now suppose you are in it for the product itself, and its possibilties and potential. Then "the customer is always king" is not a good thing; since they know what they like, but don't know the possibilties of the product. They want to settle into their groove. Letting the producers decide what's good and bad doesn't work either, they know their techniques and costs, and they are looking for reliable branding and market niches. They also want to settle into their groove.

Good things happen when everyone is in the same space, making and consuming together, as if it were live music or a big party. The forums do that. YouTube, Instagram, and Tiktok channels, run by enterprising people who gather followers and product or other content providers, are better than the forums in showing all the things that are available. They are, in effect, concentrated advertising campaigns for niche products. But when it comes to discussing the products and their possibilties, they are hopeless.

Discussing what's on YouTube or other places here or in other forums seems like the obvious answer. But the problem is the lack of hands-on experience. By the time that has happened, the hot products on YouTube have long moved on. Marketing now is less about creating a feedback loop based on using the product, and more a feedback loop based on imagining the next, even better thing. We may be entering the era of imaginary coffee, each barely tasted iteration way cooler than the last.
Jim Schulman

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#113: Post by Milligan »

Ah yes, the almighty hype machine.

YouTuber (wants money) <-> Marketeer (wants money) <-> Google (wants money) <-- Viewer (has money)

Lots of people wanting your money in that arrangement. On the forums, no one wants your money. Forums aren't perfect but at least they eliminate the profit motive (in most respects.)

I also see a correlation between light roast and marketeers pushing light roast on people especially new comers. Why? Because light roast can be harder to extract properly for a new comer and the taste profiles take a bit of time to adjust to. The solution? More gadgets, pricier coffee, and more eye balls on YouTubers guides/recipes/reviews. At least that is what is sold.

One's journey with coffee is long and winding. No brute force method of spending money or finding the "perfect" recipe will unlock coffee nirvana.

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#114: Post by dparrish »

I would like to make some observations about my own experiences as relates here:

1. Let me state the obvious: There is a difference in how coffee flavor profiles will taste between different brewing methods. Beans which taste great as filter coffee may taste horrible as espresso, since espresso concentrates and accentuates differences in beans and roasting. While much of the EU is espresso-centric (though I know that is changing), the US is largely filter/pourover-centric. That is for many reasons, both economic and tradition-based. Roasters make their decisions primarily based on what sells. What sells is certainly influenced by social media, those trusted, etc., but it is also influenced by consumers. The light roast scene is here because it has gained an audience, and a profit margin :). I think the opinions of many here attests to this.

2. Though I have not delved into roasting personally, I know enough to know how critical it is to getting the best out of beans. It is as much art as it is science. Having said that, bean selection is also critical. I would argue that for light roasting, it is even more critical. And there are only so many superb quality beans out there, especially in a "hot" market, which continues to grow.

3. I now have a first class setup which should be able to obtain the best in espresso from whatever beans I grind/pull. I am a classic espresso lover first admittedly (think Italian, Saka, but fresh Italian, not stale, though I've had some pretty good "stale" Italian roasts). But I also subscribe to La Marzocco home subscription, which 90% of the time ships out medium to light-roasted beans from various roasters all over the world. I also have sampled a number of roasters locally and across the US, and I like to stretch my palate. I would concur with Jim that the large majority of coffees I sample (of all roast levels, BTW) are "good" but not great-even the ones that are sometimes hyped. This isn't surprising to me...as I stated above, bean selection, roasting expertise (and of course brewing expertise) all are limiting factors.

4. Having said all of the above, I do think that it is inherently more difficult to produce a great light roast than it is a great medium/dark roast. More roasting can cover up more "sins" of the beans, turning them into caramel notes (although if one goes too far, tobacoo/pulpy).

5. Light roasts, when done well FOR ESPRESSO, can result in luscious, complex, and unique flavor profiles. In my experience, though, the window for undrinkable to "amazing" can come and go pretty quickly, sometimes only 3-4 days. After that the coffee often becomes bland. The window for darker roasts (done well) tends to be longer. I would argue that is due to the less volatile nature of the sugars creating by roasting longer, as opposed to the short window for more volatile (floral, fruity) notes to oxidise and dissipate.
This makes sense to me, as this is somewhat akin to the differences in shelf life of white/green (or light oolong) to black tea.

Bottom line for me? Quality is worth extra money. Expertise in bean selection and roasting are essential to producing the best-tasting coffee. There are a lot of roasters attaching their star to the light roast scene due to its perceived profitability and "vibe". But it is no longer a new thing (at least in the US). There are a lot of roasters competing for "most mediocre" coffee. It is up to us to vote with our pocketbooks for quality. It may be worth extra $ for me for the 3-4 days of a truly amazing coffee-tasting experience, but not if those days never come! That means finding roasters doing coffee the way we like, and when they stop doing it that way (head roaster moves, market forces change), we move our allegiance elsewhere. While our influence may be small, as a retired educator I believe we do matter. I also think that this forum serves as an amazing space to make others aware of the possibilities in coffee tasting, brewing, and selection. I have and continue to learn so much from you all, and my coffee experience has grown tremendously as a result!


#115: Post by PhilthyCoffee »

Almico wrote:As much as I would love to believe that a correlation existed between how well or originally a roaster (or importer for that matter) described a coffee, and the quality of that coffee and/or roast, I have found it unreliable at best. Eloquence and truth are completely independent of one another.

FWIW, I'm doing some "scientific research" this morning. I found a 12oz bag of light-roasted Colombia coffee with a roast date of 7/1. I also happened to have the same coffee on drip at the bar so I decided to compare. Same coffee, same roaster, same roast profile, identically ground and brewed on the same side of my Fetco batch brewer. The only difference is they were roasted 2 months apart.

I put the two pots on the bar and asked my black coffee drinking customers to participate in a survey. I asked them 2 questions: What is the difference between them and if you had a choice, which would you choose as your coffee today?

My assessment: the older coffee has all the sweetness and acidity of the fresher roast. No additive flavors good or bad. Very smooth and enjoyable. But not unlike a portrait photograph, where the subject is cropped from the background, what is missing is the nutty, toffee notes that give the highlights their context.

The voting has been interesting. Almost everyone has picked the fresher roast as having more to it, some simply saying it seems a little stronger, others just saying it tastes a little different. But interestingly, almost half the participants, including my assistant roaster said they would choose the older coffee.
Without getting too in the weeds, as there are multiple variables that could be played around with, wouldn't this test provide more info about the effects of time on both end results in the cup as well as consistency to get said results if:

1) 3 grind sizes were tested
2) 3 temperatures with a delta of 4 degrees F each let's say
3) graph the survey results to measure hit rate.

For many, coffee is a shot in the dark (sorry) where the average home user may only achieve "good results" x% of the time. Rest time is a luxury many do not have/don't want to be bothered with, but some of my most standout cups were rested past 50 days, even if certain aspects of the flavor profile were dimished.

And really this test should be expanded to a variety of coffees and brew styles, but then it becomes a whole big thing...lol. Seems worth the deeper dive seeing as there really isn't a clear consensus, I think the results may be worth a deeper dive.