Better Brewing with Dr. Brew- Roast & Grind

Jan 12, 2012|

As kids across the country are starting a fresh new semester in school; it is time for us to conclude our educational video mini-series Better Brewing with Dr. Brew too.  Over the past few months, Dr.  Brew has provided educational videos explaining:

  • The importance for quality water when brewing coffee or tea
  •  Why allowing a brew cycle come to completion is important  for great coffee
  • The difference in filtration methods

The last educational lesson in the series will discuss coffee roasts and grind size.  You are only one video away from flipping your tassel towards a better brew education.

Do you enjoy a light roast coffee?  Or is a dark roast more your style?  Are you confused as what really is the difference in coffee roast profiles?  To understand coffee roast you first need to know a little about roasting.  Roasting is a process that green coffee beans go through to bring the oil to the surface of the bean and unlock different flavor nuances.   As Dr.  Brew explains in the video, roasting coffee beans can do a couple of different things;  it can roast flavors in by roasting the coffees darker to caramelize more sugars; or it can roast flavors out by roasting a coffee bean lighter.   Roast masters use the roasting process to create different flavor profiles.  
To help illustrate how coffee roasts differ Dr. Brew compares the different roasts to the different steak preferences.   A light roast coffee is comparable to a medium rare steak, where it is lightly roasted on the outside.  A dark roast coffee is comparable to a well done steak where it is charred on the exterior.  
So what are the overall flavor profiles in these different roasts?  While roast color does have an effect on the flavor of the coffee it is not the only determining factor.  Origin of the coffee bean can make a difference in flavor as well. Therefore, a light roast coffee from Ethiopia is going to taste different than a light roast coffee from Guatemala.  However, as general rule of thumb when it comes to roast and taste:

  • Light Roast coffees are going to be milder in flavor
  • Medium roasts have a more intense flavor over light roasts coffees due to more caramelizing  of  the sugars
  • Dark Roasts coffees have deeper caramelized   sugars in the coffee beans and a smoky flavor.

The type of roast you select to brew and enjoy is based on personal preference, and the formula for brewing great coffee does not change based on your selection.   You do not need to use more coffee just because you are brewing a light roast, or fewer grounds when brewing a dark roast.  Your roast selection should not affect how much coffee you use when brewing a pot.    As Dr.  Brew explains you wouldn't use half the amount of ingredients when making a chocolate cake, just because it is darker than a vanilla cake.  The same is true for roasts of coffees.  The formula for the amount of coffee you use remains the same regardless of the roast as long as you are using the correct grind.

So how should you grind the different roasts of coffee?  Coffee should be ground based on the speed of the brewer, not based on the roast of the coffee.  Brewers that brew in less than 4 minutes should be ideally using a fine grind.  A fine grind will have a texture similar to table salt.    A drip grind should be used in brewers that take between 4-6 minutes to brew.   A drip grind, or medium grind, has a texture similar to coarse black pepper. Brewers that take longer than 8 minutes to brew should be using a coarse grind.  French press and plunge method often use a coarse grind to reduce the amount of coffee fines coming through the beverage.   *Note: Darker roast coffees can produce fine grinds.  To help combat this adjust your grind setting a little coarser to achieve the right grind size for your brewer. 

To learn more about coffee roast and grind watch the fourth and last video in the Better Brewing with Dr Brew series.   

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