Coffee Forensics, Crimes against Coffee

On a trip back from Norwalk, Ohio, I stopped at a cute cafe. When I visit  a new restaurant or cafe, I ask for a cup of their best coffee and a double shot of espresso. This is my version of forensics, coffee forensics. I am deciding based on the facts whether they are breaking the law, coffee-wise. There is often evidence of clearly stale coffee- when the grinder’s hopper is filled with coffee beans, I am almost certain that the coffee will be stale. When I visit a roaster and their cafe has a wall of extremely dark roasted coffee, I’m sure that the flavor profile will be suspect. When there are more flavor syrups available than types of single origin coffees, I know that I won’t want to taste the coffee black and I’m 100% certain that the barista will ask, “Should I save room for cream?” Have you ever walked out of a cafe and dumped out the cup of coffee in the garbage outside after a few sips? I have.

So, the cup of their house blend was okay, but over-roasted. The espresso was different. The first sips were lovely with chocolaty notes and some pungency that you expect from a dark roast. However, as the espresso cooled down, the coffee was absolutely unpalatable. You may expect a coffee roaster to be unfairly subjective and believe that they have the best coffee, ever. Yet, I truly have great willingness to give anyone’s coffee a chance. For example, on my trip to Baltimore, I stopped in at Dublin Coffee Roasters in Frederick and enjoyed cup after cup of wonderful coffee. The coffee roaster, Serina, gave me a tour of her roasting facility and I happily tried several of her coffee blends. But, I digress. My point is that the first and last impressions are important. Sometimes, I’ll roast a single origin coffee, cup it and love the first impression. The first hot sips, the glorious aromatics, and the smooth and interesting mouthfeel. After letting the coffee cool down to room temperature, some coffees change drastically to a poor cup. Is it 

Coffee forensics include “Drinking for the Cycle” with each coffee, #FIVEPT (French Press, Iced, Vacuum Syphon, Espresso, Pourover, and Turkish.) Every brewing style brings different notes, mouthfeel, body, depth from each coffee. Then, we ask, how does the coffee taste immediately after roasting, and every day afterwards until its timely demise (2.5 weeks)? Finally, and often most importantly, how does it taste when it cools completely? There are some coffees that I’ve roasted and cupped that die completely when they cool down. They become just a plain cup of coffee with nothing interesting. Others taste off or have bad flavors. The thoughtful coffee roaster tries to imagine all of the different situations that the customer will brew and serve their coffee.