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Thread: Commercial Roasts - Too Dark?

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    Commercial Roasts - Too Dark?

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Fellow CSers, Im after some clarification!

    On another forum, it was posted in a coffee thread that (this is paraphrasing)...

    "Commercial coffees are usually roasted quite dark, grinding finer can over-accentuate dark cocoa/burnt caramel flavours and lose complexity of expresso."

    So my question is, why are commercial roasts often darker? Specifically, why is a lighter roast not better for the unexperienced baristas and the majority of drinkers (just like instant) that are going to be using the commercial stuff?

    Any input from roasters/those-that-know-what-theyre-on-about is greatly appreciated!

  2. #2
    Senior Member shapeshifter's Avatar
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    Re: Commercial Roasts - Too Dark?

    As local roasters have told me "because its what the customer wants".

    A local roaster happen to roast their most popular blend lighter when I went to buy it and it was lovely, the next time, it was darker again and I didnt like it, no matter how I changed my grind.

    I think majority of consumers still think that coffee should taste bitter.

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    Re: Commercial Roasts - Too Dark?

    Unfortunately, Shapeshifter is right. These guys are in the business of selling roasted beans, and if they thought they could sell more by roasting lighter Im sure they would. As a retailer, you have to stock what sells. And it appears that despite most of us thinking it tastes like muck, the masses like it.

    That being said, I also realise that there are many fine roasters out there who are interested in educating people and teaching others about appreciating different roasting profiles. But like all good things, you have to do the work and search for them.

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    Re: Commercial Roasts - Too Dark?

    Would I sound cynical if I suggested that lighter roasts have more character form the beans.

    Cheap beans may taste better roasted dark.

    it may also be from a production point of view that simple fast roast profiles enable more batches to be completed in a shift and time is money.

    I would agree that a lot of commercial coffee seems to have some flavors that I find harsh and unpleasant.

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    Re: Commercial Roasts - Too Dark?

    Perhaps roasters in NZ roast "quite dark", but I dont believe so in Australia. They used to roast very dark in the US but I dont know if they still do. Over here some roasters chase the southern Italian style ("quite dark"), but by far the most that I know of do not and roast that kind of cinnamon coloured style exemplified in the better northern Italian espresso roasts.

    So I think the whole premise of the topic, as based around the quote, is flawed and cant be discussed properly...its too generalised and not really factual that I know of OR, which country are we discussing?* Also it is too easy in the forums to kind of get into the sport of "roaster bashing" for no particular reason...as in, if someone thinks "darker roasts" are not kosha. But "light roasts" arent necessarily kosha either, and all is up to the individual interpretation and the market location you are referring to.

    What is "quite dark" (as in define what is meant....give us something to go on...) ....what are we trying to discuss? How is "commercial stuff different to whatever the "other stuff" is?. Are we talking commodity roasters as in more likely to be found on a supermarklet shelf VS small to medium sized specialty roasters as in more likely to be found at the roaster door ?*

    Not wishing to be unnecessarily difficult, just asking for help. Was the quote taken out of context, what does the descriptive term "quite dark" mean, in relation to what roasters, where, and does it mean they roast everything "quite dark" or just the blends they want to present that way? Whose opinion is "right", the people that think "quite dark" is too dark, or those that are ok with it?

    Rgdz,
    Attilio
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    Re: Commercial Roasts - Too Dark?

    Quote Originally Posted by 625641574C7B674B42424141240 link=1311505981/4#4 date=1311558457
    Perhaps roasters in NZ roast "quite dark", but I dont believe so in Australia. They used to roast very dark in the US but I dont know if they still do. Over here some roasters chase the southern Italian style ("quite dark"), but by far the most that I know of do not and roast that kind of cinnamon coloured style exemplified in the better northern Italian espresso roasts.

    So I think the whole premise of the topic, as based around the quote, is flawed and cant be discussed properly...its too generalised and not really factual that I know of OR, which country are we discussing?* Also it is too easy in the forums to kind of get into the sport of "roaster bashing" for no particular reason...as in, if someone thinks "darker roasts" are not kosha. But "light roasts" arent necessarily kosha either, and all is up to the individual interpretation and the market location you are referring to.

    What is "quite dark" (as in define what is meant....give us something to go on...) ....what are we trying to discuss? How is "commercial stuff different to whatever the "other stuff" is?. Are we talking commodity roasters as in more likely to be found on a supermarklet shelf VS small to medium sized specialty roasters as in more likely to be found at the roaster door ?*

    Not wishing to be unnecessarily difficult, just asking for help. Was the quote taken out of context, what does the descriptive term "quite dark" mean, in relation to what roasters, where, and does it mean they roast everything "quite dark" or just the blends they want to present that way? Whose opinion is "right", the people that think "quite dark" is too dark, or those that are ok with it?

    Rgdz,
    Attilio
    very first CS site sponsor.

    Not being difficult at all, contrarily thankyou for such a response.

    The original quote was regarding Australian coffee, I was however assuming this translated also to the large population of NZ coffee (this could be very wrong, Im not familiar with the differences of the two).
    By quite dark it was meaning pushed past the 2nd crack and losing much of the character of the origin, by large roasters that both sell to supermarkets and do not have a roaster door that sell direct to the public (Im unfamiliar with much of the Australian scene, having got into coffee once moving over here - but for a NZ example, think Cerebos Greggs).
    It was also referring to 90% of their range, not just dark blends. As I do know that labels such as Orb are capable of producing a decent coffee in comparatively smaller quantities.

    It was suggested for consistency and to mask poor quality green beans. Does this sound right to you Attilio? I know there is no one definitive answer, but I am quite interested to learn as many aspects as possible!

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    Re: Commercial Roasts - Too Dark?

    Anything beyond second crack is too dark for my taste. That would include a lot of those commercial blends. Even before second crack, if you are too close to second crack when you dump the beans i find you start to lose a lot of the sweetness and it starts to taste ashy. First crack plus 15 degrees is the sweet spot for me.

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    Re: Commercial Roasts - Too Dark?

    rival thats an interesting way to put it, Im off to do some research on my previous roasts, thanks :)

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    Re: Commercial Roasts - Too Dark?

    Heres my take on this subject.

    I have found out a number of large scale coffee roasters do take their roasts to around the C10 scale on their cheaper beans.
    These are sold to the large scale cafes of whom i wont name, but i think you all know who im refering to.
    The kind of customers that frequent these so called franchise cafes drink their coffee with milk, cappucinos, lattes, and flat whites, loaded up with sugar or sweeteners. The kind of customers who would fit the mould of super auto machine owners, or instant.
    A C10ish roast adds kick to milk based drinks.
    Those beans tend to have less origin characters like berries, citrus and more acidity/brightness nuances and more of the roasted characters containing cocoa and chocolate and less acidity desired in milk drinks.

    A roast taken to C12 and beyond is not good for drinking. Youre talking about beans with a lot of oil on the surface and have the burnt, bitter ashy characters we have tasted when we stuffed up a roast when learning roasting as newbies. If a large scale roaster takes this to that extent, they have stuffed up big time, even milk based drinks will be unpleasant.

    So to answer your question, Yes.
    Large scale roasts are taken a shade darker to satisfy the intended muga-flat white market.

    Gary at G

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    Re: Commercial Roasts - Too Dark?

    Which makes no sense, since lighter roasts taste sweeter. I think its a case of they dont know any better and maybe consumers think dark = good


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    Re: Commercial Roasts - Too Dark?

    Another can of worms. Roasters in Australia vary vastly from under roasted acidic beans to over roasted stodge. Somewhere in the middle range of that is where the better roasters bring out the best in the various beans/blends.

    So whoever wrote that on another forum needs to get out more and or get beyond the supermarket mass roasted shelves.

    Talk of only this roast depth brings out the best in beans is way to generic too. Not all beans behave at their best at colour X or before SC or wherever. Treat each bean on its own merits and characteristics to get the best from it for your chosen brew method.

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    Senior Member sidewayss's Avatar
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    Re: Commercial Roasts - Too Dark?

    There are a good number of consumers frequenting chain cafes that think the direct opposite to us, and thats just purely lack of education.
    They look at the hoppers on the grinders and think the oils on the beans must mean they are fresh, and if theres no oils, they must be stale.

    Another misconception too is people think the strong aromas coming out of the beans means they are fresh.
    Fact is, those dark roasted beans go stale faster than lighter beans. The aromas they are smelling is the flavours escaping.
    Lighter beans dont reveal much of their aroma, but their flavour is retained through the cup. They last longer.
    Lighter beans also require a longer de-gassing time.

    Do take note as beanflying pointed out.
    A C10 roast would not do well on a pour over or syphon.

    Some beans do well either lighter or darker.
    The Mexican that used to be in Beanbay works well at C10 and it makes full use of its main characters, chocolate, maltiness, cocoa.
    Africans do well lighter than C9 to optimise their fruity characters.

    Large scale roasters, Brazilian. Roasted to anywhere from C9 to C10 and little bit beyond to make use of their smooth, low acidic and punch for milk based drinks so often enjoyed by milk based drinkers.

    Gary at G

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    Re: Commercial Roasts - Too Dark?

    I think it is also true to say that the roast profile can make quite a difference to the flavor.

    I have read that some coffee is roasted in a microwave arrangement and it is a continuous process. The roast time is in the order of 20 seconds.

    While this may be quick it may not bring out the best in the beans.

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    Re: Commercial Roasts - Too Dark?

    Just to chime in with a counter-example: one of the (hugely) respected roasters here in Adelaide gave me an espresso and simply said "taste this".

    It was really nice. The beans were 1day + couple of hours off roast, and they were the darkest roast depth Id seen from this place. The bean? Cheap Brazilian Santos! The beans were roasted w-a-a-y dark and had oil sheen on them. But the result was astonishing in the cup. I wouldnt have given those beans a second look, before that.

    Having said all that, I have to kind-of agree with the original poster. The bulk commercial guys do roast darker than "we" do, IMHO.

    /Kevin

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    joz
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    Re: Commercial Roasts - Too Dark?

    Loving this topic, keep it up guys.
    This stuff is of interest to me.
    But can someone edumacate me and explain what the C10 or C12 is all about?
    Oh and if beans are oily,what does it mean?

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    Re: Commercial Roasts - Too Dark?

    Quote Originally Posted by 5653463C0 link=1311505981/14#14 date=1311987903
    But can someone edumacate me and explain what the C10 or C12 is all about?
    CS10 and CS12 are a reference to the CoffeeeSnobs reference cards that Andy provides which has its own roast level indicators based on colour. So instead of using the USA style roast levels similar to:

    Light Brown, City, Full City, Full City+, Light French, Full French etc....

    The card has a colour comparison based on numbers hence the CS for "CoffeeSnobs" 1-12. The cards can be purchased from BeanBay, although I think your first one is free.

    Oil on the beans are the coffee oils (normally extracted during the percolation process) leaching out of the bean. This can happen as a result of the roast (Dark roasts tend to be oily), although some roasts will start out without surface oil, but after being kept for a while, the oils can start to come to the surface. The oils contain much of the flavour, so once they start to leach out of the bean, you could start losing the flavours, and also the oils can start to go rancid. However sometimes a % of an oily dark roast added to a blend can also add a characteristic some people like.

    GrahamK

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    joz
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    Re: Commercial Roasts - Too Dark?

    Thanks for the info Graham, the CS color card makes sense too!
    I thought as much with regards to the oil and having you explain it confirms things to me.

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    Re: Commercial Roasts - Too Dark?

    Quote Originally Posted by 627875746670686262110 link=1311505981/8#8 date=1311600708
    So to answer your question, Yes.
    Large scale roasts are taken a shade darker to satisfy the intended muga-flat white market.

    Gary at G
    So Im a Muga-flat white drinker. I dont quite know what you mean but it sounds quite degrading. I will forever feel embarrassed when I order flat white at a cafe.

    I have nice equipment and buy nice beans but still enjoy my coffee more with milk and a little raw sugar. I dont think you can put everybody that drinks coffee with milk into a category with instant coffee drinkers.

    I enjoy espresso too but when I have a coffee, Im more often after a longer drink not just a shot. Flat white fits the bill perfectly with a well made coffee.

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    Re: Commercial Roasts - Too Dark?

    Quote Originally Posted by 43787F6477657E100 link=1311505981/17#17 date=1312357564
    So Im a Muga-flat white drinker. I dont quite know what you mean but it sounds quite degrading. I will forever feel embarrassed when I order flat white at a cafe.
    Coffee is about enjoying it, any way you like. I will make you a muga-flat white any day mate!! ;D

    Quote Originally Posted by 7275717E767C69797E77100 link=1311505981/10#10 date=1311653294
    Another can of worms. Roasters in Australia vary vastly from under roasted acidic beans to over roasted stodge. Somewhere in the middle range of that is where the better roasters bring out the best in the various beans/blends.
    Spot on Beanflying.

    There are many differing methods of roasting coffee, often these are defined by the method of brewing. I agree, that a drop out point of around second crack is a good start for espresso method, much further past this point is where many negative aspects are developed, and many positive aspects are lost.

    There has been a gradual change in the specialty coffee industry of roasters roasting lighter and lighter for espresso method, something I personally just cant get into.

    Light/lighter roast profiling is great for methods such as Chemex, Syphon and pourovers. This profile really does accentuate the sweeter, lighter aspects of coffee. The reason is due to the development of the sugars (sucrose) within the bean during roasting.

    The key is to develop these sugars and drop at the point just prior to the caramelisation of the sugars. The reason is that scientific testing has found that caramelised sugars are not as sweet as uncaramelised sugars. Sucrose in the bean during roasting begins caramelising at any where between 170 and 200 degrees Celcius. First crack usually occurs arround 200 degrees Celcius. Therefore, a drop out point at first crack hopefully holds higher sweetness.

    For me though, light roast really is suited to these more gentle methods of brewing, rather than espresso. It is the brew method of espresso that brings out the high acids, sourness and funk (thats my own descriptive word for "yuck!") from light roast, and does not accentuate its sweetness.

    Sometimes I think light roast roasters are forgetting that we are an over all espresso society, and they are roasting following this strange movement known as the "Third Wave" of coffee roasting.

    I have had many espressos from a lighter roast profile, and have yet to have one I enjoy. They are just far too acidic and sour, lacking sweetness and body. For those that drink milk based coffee, a lighter roasted espresso disapears completely in milk. Usually when I am at an espresso bar that I know uses lighter roasts, I order a double espresso in my latte, and still struggle to find any true depth of flavour.

    Every different origin is different when applying a profile for maximum/positive/ sought after attributes. And there are many differing brew methods as we know. This is the truely beautiful part of coffee, exploring all posabilities till you find the one you truely love.

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    Re: Commercial Roasts - Too Dark?

    Here Here.

    I played with a new blend today that tasted like sour orange juice, with a grassy herby (underroasted) undertone. Very interesting, lots of flavours to discuss.

    But not great when Im mostly serving big milky drinks.

    What are some roasters thinking?

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    Re: Commercial Roasts - Too Dark?

    Great discussion thread! I have been experimenting with different degrees of roast levels for a while now. When roasting for espresso and milk based espresso drinks I generally go to the first snaps of second crack and then dump and quickly cool the beans, this has been producing good flavour development without the roast chaaracteristics taking over.
    When roasting for filter/pourover I have been taking beans to just on the end of RFC, this roast level as an espresso would be revolting but as a brewed coffee it displays the delicate nuances of a good quality bean producing a clean cup with sweetness, acidity showcasing the distinct flavours of the specific varietal.
    That is the great joy to me of being a home roaster ;) :) :) :D :D


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    Re: Commercial Roasts - Too Dark?

    Behmor Brazen - $249 - Free Freight
    Well said Greenman.

    Ditto here. Plus it sure beats paying $35 odd or more a kilo of roasted from a specialty roaster.



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