Coffee College

Your guide to everything coffee.

Ceramic pour over coffee

Brewing at Home

No matter your manual brewing method of choice, we’ll help you master your home brewing recipes and techniques. Follow along with our demonstration videos and with just a little practice, you’ll be unlocking the full flavor potential of the world’s best coffees.

Coffee around the globe

Elevation, soil structure, rainfall, and humidity—these are just a few of the factors that set the stage for farmers to achieve exceptional coffee production in the band of Earth known as the Coffee Belt. Explore this region to discover the origins of your favorite coffees.

Seed to Cup

From the seed of a fruit to the brew inside your morning cup, coffee goes on quite a journey to get to you. With each step as important as the next, the highest quality coffee begins with the most skilled and diligent farmers and ends with a meticulously crafted coffee.

Expand your coffee knowledge with a Roasterie coffee class

History of Coffee

Several legends exist about the discovery of coffee. One tells of a ruler who saved himself from starvation by eating the coffee cherries; another that the Angel Gabriel brought the berries to the Prophet Mohammed to help him stay awake for an impending battle. The most widely spread legend about coffee is the story of a goat herder named Kaldi who lived sometime around 850 A.D.

One day while Kaldi was in the pasture, he noticed his goats eating bright red cherries from a small tree. High on the caffeine, the goats started dancing and prancing around, so naturally Kaldi ate a few out of curiosity. Passing by, a holy man named Chandely observed Kaldi’s odd behavior. He too took some cherries, crushed them into a powder, poured hot water on the powder, and drank it. Realizing how the drink envigorated him, he took it to all the nearby mosques in the region to help keep the holy men awake during prayers.

During the ensuing years, coffee took on several forms: sometimes a food, as when animal fat and coffee were together formed into pellets to provide a protein and caffeine rush when consumed; a nonalcoholic wine made from the sweet cherries; a tea made by crushing the dried green seeds; or a rejuvenating medicine.

Coffee was likely first roasted around 1200 A.D., although there is some speculation that it could have happened much earlier. By the end of the 13th century, coffee was being consumed all over the Middle East, although not filtered—the drink was consumed grounds and all.

Coffee was first cultivated in Yemen around 1350 A.D. and from then on began to be produced as a cash crop.

The people of Yemen were the first to cultivate coffee (it previously grew wild in Ethiopia) and they soon passed a law making it illegal to take the plants or the seeds out of the country, preventing coffee from being grown outside of Ethiopia or Yemen until around 1600.

Between 800 A.D. and 1400 A.D., coffee became very popular throughout the Middle East, and there are many historical references to it:

• Marriage contracts with a stipulation that a husband must supply his wife with an adequate allotment of coffee per month.

• Drinking coffee was discouraged in some countries because people were not going to daily prayers, and were sitting around drinking coffee instead.

• Holy men depended heavily on the brew to keep themselves and their flock awake during prayers.

History of Coffee in Europe

Although Europe was not introduced to coffee until the late 1500's by Venetian travelers, most had heard of the drink prior. Many priests had called for Pope Clement VIII (1535-1605) to ban the drink within the Catholic church because it was so popular in the Muslim world. Since Muslims did not drink wine (a holy sacrament for the Catholics) they thought the devil must have given them this devilish coffee brew instead. For Christians to consume coffee was to risk falling into the devil’s trap. Curious, the Pope wanted to see this "devil’s brew" for himself. He first smelled it, and then, to the horror of the priest, he drank some. The priest thought he would either die or sprout horns and turn into the devil. Instead, he declared it delicious and baptized it, thus snatching it away from the devil’s grasp and releasing it to the world of Catholicism.

The first coffee house in Italy opened in 1645. These first coffeehouses became known as Caffés, thus the origins of the word we use today, café. They were denounced as houses of vice, immorality, and corruption.

The first coffee house in France was in Paris in 1672. Coffee was soon consumed by everyone from the lowest of citizens to the King himself. The French Revolution had its beginnings in the coffeehouses of Paris. King Louis XIV, Emperor of France, wanted some coffee plants for his garden, for which he built the first greenhouse ever constructed after the Dutch agreed to give him a few of the plants as a gift.

Vienna is sometimes referred to as the mother of cafes. Coffee came to Vienna after the Austrians defeated the Turks in 1683. Legend has it that after the battle, the hero of the war, Franz Kolschitzky, and his soldiers shared the spoils of war the Turks had left behind. Kolschitzky requested the sacks of beans, which no one else wanted. He roasted them and began to peddle the brewed coffee door to door, and its popularity spread rapidly. The first coffee house in Vienna was founded in 1700. Some say it was Kolschitzky himself who started it, however, this has never been confirmed. By the year 1839,130 coffeehouses were in business in the Austrian capital.

The first coffee house in England was in Oxford in 1650. The students loved the coffee because it helped them stay alert for their studies. The first coffee house in London was in 1652 in St. Michael’s Alley, opposite the local church. By 1700, there were 2,000+ coffee houses in London! Even still, there were three things that undermined the coffee houses of England:

• They were known as “penny universities” which the poor would visit to discuss the day’s events, including politics. The government did not like this because they feared these talks would lead to revolution.

• Although some of the famous coffeehouses of England were owned by women, they were continued to function as men's only establishments, causing the women to petition the government to shut down the penny universities.

• The gentry who had investments in the tea fields of the Far East wanted to promote tea and discourage coffee consumption. This was done by several means, including taxing coffee heavily. As coffee became expensive and tea became cheap, England went on to become a tea-drinking nation.

History of Coffee in the Far East

Coffee came to the Far East via a man named Baba Budan sometime around 1600 A.D. in India. Baba, a holy man, rallied the faithful, both Muslim and Hindu, in front of a cave and told them he was going on a mystical tour to Mecca for guidance. The faithful waited outside the cave for months until one day Baba reappeared claiming the gods had given him seven seeds that would provide them with both food and drink. The seeds were planted in the Chandragiri hills, which have since become known as the Baba Budan hills.

What Baba didn't tell the faithful was that he had slipped out a back passage of the cave and made a trip to Yemen where he obtained the coffee seeds. With seven of them strapped to his belly (risking being caught and imprisoned or killed), he made his way back to India. After planting the seeds, these seven trees then provided coffee which spread to Java, Sumatra, and the rest of the Far East.

History of Coffee in the Americas

Remember the greenhouses that King Louis XIV built for his coffee plants in Paris? A sea captain by the name of Gabriel Mathieu de Clieu was convinced that if he could get just one of those plants it would grow well in the New World. He was having a tryst with a lady of the French court (some say the Queen herself) and he persuaded her to steal a coffee plant for him. Legend has it the coffee plant was passed over the garden wall at midnight and he set sail to the New World with his contraband in 1723.

On his journey he ran into several obstacles: he was chased by pirates, he ran into a major storm, a deranged passenger tried to throw the plant overboard (some say it was a Dutch agent sent to prevent coffee from reaching the New World), the ship was becalmed, and when water became short, the captain used part of his ration for the plant.

But he finally made it, and when he arrived in Martinique, he planted the coffee. A census 50 years later counted the number of coffee trees on the island as 18 million.

Coffee came to Brazil in 1727 when Colonel Francisco de Melo Palheta was sent to mediate a dispute between the Dutch and French on French Guiana. He had a tryst with the governor’s wife and whispered in her ear that the Brazilian Emperor wanted some coffee seeds. On his departure, the governor’s wife presented the Colonel, right in front of her husband, a bouquet of flowers in which some coffee seeds were hidden.

The following were the three great migrations of coffee planting around the world.
• from Ethiopia to the rest of Africa and Yemen
• via Baba Buden to the Far East (theft)
• via Captain de Clieu to North America. (theft)
• via Colonel Palheta to South America (theft)

History of Coffee in the United States

There is no mention of coffee on the manifest of the Mayflower. Captain John Smith, who founded Jamestown in 1607 and had traveled extensively in Turkey, likely brought the first coffee to the United States with him. The earliest record we have of coffee in the U.S. is in 1670 when tea was still the dominant drink. That changed in 1773 at a little event called the Boston Tea Party.

With the Stamp Act of 1765, England began to levy heavy taxes on tea. In protest, the colonists threw tea off three ships in the Boston harbor—The Dartmouth, The Eleanor, and The Beaver—accusing the English of taxation without representation. They did not want to drink tea because it represented England. The U.S. would forever thereafter become one of the most dedicated coffee-drinking nations in the world.

Early coffee houses in the United States were truly more taverns than coffee houses as we would think of today. The first license to sell coffee was issued to Dorothy Jones in Boston in 1670 but no mention is made of her opening a coffeehouse.

The first U.S. coffeehouse was likely the London House, opened in Boston in 1689; the second was the Gutteridge Coffeehouse, opened in 1691 in Boston. The most famous coffeehouse in the Americas was the Green Dragon opened in 1697 in Boston. All the major players of the American Revolution met there and plotted their strategy over coffee. The Boston Tea Party was planned here as well, not to mention Paul Revere’s midnight ride. It was also a favorite of the opposition: the British soldiers. The first coffee house opened in New York was in 1696 on Broadway and was named the Kings Arms.

It should be noted that coffee always had a following among the intellectuals, artists, students, and dissidents of this world. The coffeehouses of Europe and the United States were meeting places for the revolutionaries of their time.

In 1865 John Arbuckle became the first person to sell roasted coffee as a pre-packaged product. He called it Arbuckle’s Ariosa blend and it soon became known as “the coffee that won the West” due to the fact it was shipped coast to coast and, especially in rural areas, became a convenience that caught on like wildfire. Each package of the Ariosa Blend came with a peppermint stick for the children, and soon each package came with points that could be redeemed for products in the Arbuckle gift catalog. By 1901, 20% of the coffee being roasted in the United States was being roasted by the Arbuckle Company.

The current custom of tasting (cupping) coffee before it is purchased began with the Hills Brothers in the latter part of the nineteenth century. They were purchasing coffee off the docks in San Francisco, roasting it and selling it. After enough times of roasting coffee only to find they had picked a poor quality lot, they decided to go to the docks and get a sample of a certain lot before buying it. They would then take the sample back to their facility, roast and taste it, and then decide whether to purchase it. The Hills Brothers were also the first company to vacuum pack coffee.

Instant coffee was invented in 1901 by a Japanese-American in Chicago by the name of Santo Kato. Sanka (caffeine-free) coffee was developed two years later in Germany.

Coffee From 1900-1960

Up until 1900 in the United States, coffee had gained a reputation of having a relatively high mainstream quality, but several things caused it to become a poor tasting canned product over the next 60 years:

• The discovery of a different species of coffee in 1898 (over 1,000 years after Arabica was discovered in Ethiopia) in the Belgian Congo called Robusta which turned out to be cheaper and easier to grow but lacked the flavor quality of Arabica.

• Two World Wars devastated economies and diminished resources.

• A worldwide depression caused coffee companies to use cheaper grades so they would be able to maintain profits at lower prices.

• The forming of multi-national companies and stockholders.

Enter Alfred Peet. Mr. Peet (1920-2007) emigrated from Holland in 1955 and settled in San Francisco. He opened Peet’s Coffeehouse across the bay in Berkeley at the corner of Walnut and Vine in April 1966 on the premise of buying better coffees and selling it fresh (he roasted everything on-site). If you want to put an "X" on the map for the birth of Specialty Coffee in the United States, it would be there in Berkley, California in April 1966.

Starbucks was started in 1971 in Seattle by three academics: Jerry Baldwin (an English teacher), Zev Siegel (a history teacher) and Gordon Bowker (a writer). The Starbucks name comes from the first mate in the novel Moby Dick, which the three academics thought evoked the romance of the high sea. The three learned the coffee business from Alfred Peet who roasted all of their coffee for the first year. Starbucks did not become a major coffee company until after they were purchased by Howard Schulz in 1987.

The Specialty Coffee Association of America (now the Specialty Coffee Association) was born in 1982 as a means to establish and share best practices in everything from production to brewing coffee.

11 years later, on November 4, 1993, Danny O’Neill founded The Roasterie in the basement of his Brookside home in Kansas City, Missouri on the premise of:

• Buying the best coffees in the world and making sure the farmer gets a fair price

• Roasting it the best way known to man: air-roasting

• Getting it to the customer as fast and fresh as humanly possible

Three Waves of Specialty Coffee

The modern history of coffee in the United States is widely understood in the industry as having three distinct “Waves” of transformation and growth. The First Wave of U.S. specialty coffee began with John Arbuckle when coffee was easily accessible in the home. Coffee became a staple of American life in a brand new way as it shifted from being a product consumed out in the world of coffee shops and taverns and into the intimacy of kitchens in homes across the country.

The Second Wave was ushered in with a boom by Alfred Peet, when coffee became artisan again. Coffee was brought back to small-scale production and shifted back out into the world of cafes and coffee shops once again. It was in the Second Wave that we began to appreciate different roasting styles and started paying attention to the origins of each coffee, as well as develop an appreciation for espresso and milk-based espresso drinks. Household names like Peet’s and Starbucks boomed in the Second Wave and began to operate under a bit of homogeneity as they made coffee accessible to a new breed of the American masses; a rebellion to which, in part, launched the Third Wave.

Third Wave coffee began around the mid 1980s to early 1990s and is primarily understood as a craft movement. We began roasting coffee lighter, drinking it black, appreciating the nuances and flavor notes in each cup. A further focus was put on origin - where the coffee comes from, who produces it, how it’s processed, what type of coffee varietals it comes from. It was in the early years of the Third Wave that The Roasterie was founded, and in those early days, Danny O'Neill and several close friends to this day helped to lead the charge in innovation and dedication to quality. Danny served as President of the Specialty Coffee Association of America in 2001-2002 and played a key role in developing some of the cornerstones of the industry still used throughout specialty coffee today.

The History of Espresso

Espresso is a concentrated coffee beverage brewed by using high pressure to force near-boiling water through finely ground coffee. Espresso is distinguished from drip coffee by its thick, viscous mouthfeel and intense, concentrated flavor. Espresso is typically served in the form of a two ounce “shot”, and each shot has three main components: the heart or the initial extraction of intense coffee flavors and aromas, the body or the rich and thick backbone of the shot, and the crema which is the tan-ish/orange layer of foam on the surface.

While the history of brewed coffee dates back over five hundred years, the spectacularly famous espresso shot is actually still a very new and modern approach to coffee extraction. The 20th century was known for being an age of electronification, communication, and computerization—an age of making things faster and better.

In 1901, Luigi Bezzera, the owner of a small Italian manufacturing firm in Milan, brainstormed a way of mechanizing and speeding up the then messy and drawn out process of making a cup of coffee. His idea was to create a boiler device with four different sized “heads.” Each head would allow steam and boiling water to flow through a small brew basket and quickly extract a cup of hot coffee. The machine required the water inside its tank to be at boiling point in order to create the steam pressure needed to force the water through the coffee. Although 212-degree water at two bars of pressure is not ideal by today’s standards, it did achieve Bezzera’s goal of “caffé espresso,” or fast coffee.

Unfortunately, Bezzera was unsuccessful at marketing his cumbersome and finicky machine and sold his patent to Desidero Pavoni of Pavoni Manufacturing in 1905. Pavoni adopted Bezzera’s ideas into his own design and began to sell his machine to small cafes and restaurants across Europe. La Pavoni, as the machine was called, remained relatively unchanged for nearly three decades. It wasn’t until Achille Gaggia designed a piston-powered machine in 1938 that the true espresso revolution was born.

Rather than relying on the power of boiling water to pull a shot, Gaggia invented an enclosed spring piston capable of applying a higher, more controllable, and more consistent pressure into the filter basket. This allowed for a lower brew temperature of 200 degrees resulting in a properly extracted espresso shot which exhibited a sweet surface of crema that began to grow in popularity.

Gaggia’s machine, however, remained expensive and difficult to operate. It took the full strength of a "barista", or bar-man, to work the extraction piston. It wasn’t until 1960 when FAEMA came out with its E61 model espresso machine that the espresso revolution took its next substantial leap forward. As the first true semi-automatic espresso machine, the E61 was groundbreaking in its incorporation of an inline electric pump to deliver 7 to 10 bars of pressure to the coffee bed without relying on a human-powered piston. This helped to greatly reduce the cost of the machine and increased its consistency. Considered to be a tipping point by many, it was from this moment that espresso began to move from its position as an eccentricity to that of a leading industry player within the US and throughout the world.

By the 1990s, advancements to the FAEMA design, along with the development of the craft of the barista, had improved quality and consistency so dramatically that American espresso culture was ready to come of age. In only 100 years, Bezzera’s small idea to simplify the way he made his coffee has transformed the world coffee consciousness.

Coffee on the Farm

Arabica coffee is primarily grown in the four major producing regions of Central America, South America, Africa and Southeast Asia, between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn (about 25 North and South of the equator, respectively). Ideal conditions for Arabica coffee growth are high altitudes (typically between 3,500–6,000 feet), climates that range between 60-90F with ample rainfall and a relative humidity maintained between 70-90%.

Arabica’s counterpart, the Robusta species, is able to grow under much less favorable conditions at lower altitudes and is extremely robust and resistant to pests and disease. Robusta has just one fatal flaw: The flavor of the coffee is nowhere near the quality of Arabica! Thus, Robusta is used almost entirely for commercial, low-grade coffee, while Arabica is the species of choice for Specialty Coffee producers and roasters alike.

What you know as coffee beans are actually processed, dried, and roasted seeds of the coffee tree. The seeds are grown in cherries, similar in size and appearance to a bright red Bing cherry. The first 12-18 months of a coffee tree’s life is spent in a nursery, carefully provided the perfect amount of sunlight, water and nutrients to prepare for its transport to the fields. Once planted in the fields, the tree will begin to produce fruit when it reaches 3-5 years old. Typically, the tree will have a production curve in which it will steadily increase production yield each year, producing maximum volume around years 8-10, and then begin to produce a little less each year thereafter. Although coffee trees can live well over 100 years, well maintained trees will be kept tightly pruned throughout their life and will usually be uprooted and replaced before they reach 40 years old.

The average coffee tree will only produce the equivalent of about one pound of roasted coffee each year. Once fully grown, a coffee tree can reach upwards of 40 feet tall, but most trees are kept between 4-8 feet tall to allow for efficient picking (harvesting) of cherries. The harvest is annual; trees are harvested in what is known as “passes," ideally 3-4 per farm per year. Because it is imperative to coffee quality that cherries are picked only when perfectly ripe, farmers will deploy their coffee pickers several times during harvest season in order to maximize the quality of their coffee. Coffee farms vary greatly in size. The Roasterie purchases from farms as small as 1-2 acres (smallholder farms that contribute to our Colombia Pitalito Estate for example) and farms as large as 500 acres (like Fazenda Lagoa in Brazil).

Once picked, the coffee cherries will be processed and dried before they are ready for export. The three main processing methods are Washed (also known as wet process), Honey (also known as semi-washed or pulped natural), and Natural (also known as dry process).

Washed coffee is processed by putting the coffee cherries through a depulper to remove the skin of the cherry, and then either processing the depulped seeds through a machine to remove the mucilage (the slimy, sticky flesh of the cherry) or allowing the coffee to go through a period of fermentation (either wet or dry) in which the coffee is allowed to rest in tanks, typically 24-36 hours, before drying to allow the mucilage to be broken down and removed. After the mucilage has been removed, the coffee will be laid out on patios and sun-dried for a period of 14-21 days until reaching an ideal moisture content of 10.5- 12%. Once dried, coffee will be “rested” in a warehouse 4-8 weeks in parchment (the relatively soft outer shell around the bean). Once the coffee has been rested, it will be transported to a dry mill to be sorted and prepared for export.

Coffee Processing

Once harvested, coffee cherries will be processed and dried before they are ready for export. The three most common processing methods are Washed (also known as wet process), Honey (also known as semi-washed or pulped natural), and Natural (also known as dry process).

Washed coffee is processed by putting the coffee cherries through a depulper to remove the skin of the cherry, and then either processing the depulped seeds through an aqua-pulping machine to remove the mucilage (the slimy, sticky flesh of the cherry) or by allowing the coffee to go through a period of fermentation (either wet or dry) in which the coffee is allowed to rest in tanks, typically 24-36 hours, to allow the mucilage to be broken down and rinsed off of the seeds. After the mucilage has been removed, the coffee will be laid out on patios or raised beds and sun dried for a period of two to three weeks until reaching an ideal moisture content of 10-12%. Once dried, coffee will be rested in a warehouse 4-8 weeks in parchment (the protective, soft outer shell around the seed). Once the coffee has been rested, it will be transported to a dry mill to be sorted, hulled to remove the parchment, bagged and prepared for export.

Honey processed coffee has a slight but significant change in process from the Washed process. Cherries are depulped after picking but bypass fermentation and removal of mucilage. The coffee is allowed to dry two to three weeks on patios or raised beds with the mucilage still clinging to the bean. This will produce a sweeter, more vibrant and complex cup profile often with a heavier body. Honey processing is extremely popular in Costa Rica but is also present and growing in popularity in much of Central and South America as well as certain parts of Indonesia and Africa.

In Costa Rica, there are several distinctions that refer to how much of the mucilage, or pulp, is left clinging to the seed during drying. The levels are known as White, Yellow, Red, and Black Honeys. White Honeys remove almost all of the mucilage, making the coffee more similar to a fully Washed coffee, while Black Honeys will leave as much of it around the seed as they possibly can, making the coffee more similar to a Natural processed coffee. In Brazil, the traditional processing method is known as Pulped Natural, which is fairly similar in style to a Costa Rica Yellow Honey process. Semi-Washed and Semi-Dry are also different names and variations that fall on the same spectrum as Honeys.

The other major processing method is Natural, or dry process. Natural processed coffee is picked from the tree and bypasses depulping altogether, drying on patios or raised beds inside the cherry. As the cherry dries, it shrivels up like a raisin, allowing the seed inside to absorb the sugars and flavors from the flesh of the cherry. Naturals will typically dry about three to four weeks before being processed through a dehulling machine that strips the skin and dried mucilage off the coffee down to the seed. Natural coffees are typically very fruity in flavor and can be very heavy in body. Because of this, the Natural process has historically been reserved for low-quality coffees and was not considered an option for Specialty coffees; the sweetness imparted in the coffee from the processing is able to mask or soften some negative qualities. In recent years, however, beginning around the early 2000's, Naturals have begun to grow in popularity and earn recognition in the industry as having the potential to be some of the highest quality, most exceptional cups in the world. Naturals are most popular in Costa Rica and parts of Africa, particularly in Ethiopia, but are growing in popularity all over the world. Natural processing is especially convenient and resource-responsible in areas where water is scarce or hardly accessible, due to the bypassing of pulping and removal of mucilage, which both use water to transport the cherries to and from equipment.

Coffee processing is done at what is referred to as a wet mill; these can either be massive, large co-op type operations or small, single farm micro mills with an incredibly small footprint. Some farms will wet mill their own coffee, and others will harvest their cherry and sell to a cooperative or a community/regional mill. It is especially common in Costa Rica and Colombia for each farm to have a micro mill in which they will process their own cherry, often using multiple different processing methods for different lots or qualities. After drying and resting, the coffee (in parchment) is moved to a dry mill, where it will be removed from the parchment, sorted and brought to export/import spec based on screen size, density, and by removing defective beans.

Roasterie Reserves

The Roasterie’s Reserve program aims to highlight exceptional, unique, and rare micro and nano lot coffees from all around the world. Micro lots are coffees produced in incredibly limited quantities; there may only be 5, 10, or 20 bags of each micro lot from an entire harvest. Some are even produced in quantities of less than one full 60 kg bag. Due to the limited quantities of micro lots, we buy, roast and serve them as a limited edition offering. Once they're gone, they're gone; making way for another exceptional limited release coffee to become available.

We typically offer more than 15 different coffees each year through our Reserve line. Each one is new, exciting, and brings with it an opportunity for our guests and team members alike to learn something new about coffee; it is very common for our Reserve offerings to be produced by a specific varietal of coffee tree, use a unique or experimental processing method, possess an uncharacteristic flavor profile for its region, or come from a rare producing country.

Decaffeination Process

We source the same great quality coffee for our decaffeinated products as our core products. Our dedication to consistency in flavor profile and performance is reflected in the true origin flavors of each of our decaf offerings. We prefer to use Mountain Water Process decaffeination, which uses a chemical-free method to remove the caffeine from the coffee. These coffees are processed in Mexico at the Descamex plant in Veracruz. At Descamex, instead of using chemicals to decaffeinate the beans, they instead rely on osmosis and carbon filtration to extract the caffeine from the coffee beans. The overall process is similar to other water-based decaf methods but in our opinion produces a superior quality decaf coffee.

Cupping Coffee

Cupping coffee is the industry-standard method for evaluating the characteristics and quality of a sample of green (raw) coffee. There are several different contexts in which we cup: to select coffees for purchase, as a quality assurance measure of our roasted coffee production, to develop new blends, and more. Although we cup for many different purposes, one of the keys to cupping well is consistency. Whether we are searching for new coffees, verifying quality, or developing roast profiles, we always cup the exact same way, every time. The method is simple but hugely important.

The first step to cupping is to weigh 12 grams of coffee into each seven ounce cup; if we are cupping for potential purchase, we’ll brew five cups for each sample to test for 100% consistency from one cup to the next in each sample. Next, we’ll grind the coffee on a fine setting. Once ground, each cupper will smell each cup to analyze the fragrance of the ground coffee. Then we’ll fill the cups with 200 F water and allow the coffee to brew for four minutes. At four minutes, we’ll begin breaking the crust, a step in which we use a cupping spoon to stir the grounds at the top of the cup, taking in the aroma of the flavor compounds. After each cup is broken, we skim off the thin top layer of foam, consisting of the smallest, floating particles of ground coffee. Once skimmed, we wait until the coffee is cool enough to taste.

Once it’s time to taste, we’ll use the SCA grading form to rate the coffee in the categories of fragrance/aroma, flavor, acidity, body, balance, uniformity, cleanliness, sweetness, aftertaste, and overall perception. In order for a coffee to be considered Specialty Grade, one requirement is that it must score at least 80 points on the SCA grading sheet. The Roasterie’s minimum score for purchase is 84 points, with an even higher minimum of 86.5 for our limited-edition Reserve offerings.

Air Roasting

If you've been on a Roasterie Factory Tour, you've seen our gorgeous fleet of four Loring Smart Roasters. These state of the art roasters are manufactured in Santa Rosa, CA, and without a doubt are the most technologically advanced and environmentally friendly roasters on the planet.

After purchasing a new coffee, our team of skilled roasters will develop a roast profile, or recipe, for that coffee in order to maximize the flavor potential and unique characteristics present in that particular coffee. Once this profile has been developed, our Loring roasters are able to incorporate their industry-redefining automation features to repeat this roast profile every single time that coffee is roasted. With our various sized machines, we can roast anywhere from three pounds to 155 pounds at a time with perfect consistency, every time.

Loring also incorporates our classic air-roasting method by using an indirect heat source to heat air which is then circulated throughout the roasting drum in order to roast the beans. This method of roasting provides a deeper, sweeter, more balanced coffee without the bitterness - even when roasting dark.

Cold Brew Process

The Roasterie has been brewing cold coffee for guests since 1993. In the early days, we would brew it for people who had a hard time handling the acidity of hot coffee. Brewing coffee cold mutes the acidity that is found in hot coffee and at its best, highlights rich chocolatey notes as well as lighter, balanced fruit notes.

We believe Cold Brew to be a superior alternative to the classic iced coffee, which is made by pouring hot water over coffee over a 3-4 minute brew cycle and allowing it to drip immediately over ice to cool it down. This mutes the acidity but also shocks the coffee, dulling the flavor and watering it down. Coffee that is brewed by steeping coffee over a long period of time (usually 12-24 hours) using only cold water is known as Cold Brew.

Our canned and kegged Cold Brew products are made using a full immersion brewing method. Coarsely ground coffee is steeped under sub-40° F water for 19 hours with minimal agitation. The brewer is then drained, producing a concentrate product which is then diluted with reverse osmosis purified water to create a ready-to-drink product that is then kegged or canned and distributed to cafes and retailers across Kansas City and beyond. Because the coffee is never introduced to hot water, the extraction achieves ideal flavor, body and complexity of the finished product while minimizing the acidity.

Our Nitro uses a very similar blend and brewing method but is also infused with nitrogen gas for a one of a kind cold brew experience. Each can of Nitro contains a nitrogen-charged widget in the bottom of the can. When it's cracked open, the widget sends millions of tiny nitrogen bubbles through the beverage to create a thick, creamy head of microfoam on the surface. The velvety texture and flavor notes of chocolate and black cherry with a smooth, buttery body and cream-soda-like finish makes Nitro one of our best selling products!

All of our Cold Brew products are characterized by their incredible taste and completely clean label. They contain zero carbs, sugars, fat or calories—and are 100% natural, produced without the aid of chemicals or preservatives. Because of this, they must stay remain refrigerated from production to consumption. Find our extensive Cold Brew line in any Roasterie cafes or throughout select grocers and convenience stores throughout Kansas City!

The world of coffee at your fingertips.

book your coffee experience