Artisan coffees are created when the grower is willing to take the extra steps to ensure quality results, and the roaster is willing to pay the premium price necessary to support quality.
Artisan coffees evolve from sustainable farm practices which include a respect for the habitat and good production values at each stage: meticulous selection, milling and drying of the raw hand-picked coffee at origin, and careful crafting of the coffee into a finished form by the roaster.
Artisan coffee roasting is a marriage of science and sensibility. The science involves controlling the roasting medium via the roasters knowledge of the roasting machine, the raw product (green beans) and the roaster’s visual and tasting sensibility.
Distinguish, differentiate, and define: these are the guiding words of a new generation of artisan coffee growers who will influence the future of boutique coffee. Modeling the wine industry, artisan growers are promoting their “terroir” and distinguishing themselves by finding ways to differentiate their harvest. They are exerting more control over their coffee, defining it by micro-region, varietal (coffee plant) and milling method. This approach is a radical departure from the custom of selling one’s harvest to middlemen, who then mill and blend it anonymously with other coffee from the region prior to export.
Obviously, not all coffee companies decide to spend the necessary effort to ensure quality. Macro-roasting companies, ones even bulkier than the aforementioned Big Guys and who dominate the grocery store aisles, roast millions of pounds per year. They know that their customers won’t (can’t?) demand a higher quality bean, so they are more likely to blend the pricey Arabica with lower-quality robusta coffee. They buy just about anything. They grind it up and put a “best if used by” date on the container. Ouch.
Taking ownership of the milling process is a critical step towards producing a boutique coffee. Artisan growers are investing in state-of-the art micro-mills that allow them to “design” their coffee and separate it into micro-lots with different characteristics. This step improves the quality of the coffee, enhances the attributes of terroir, and, adds a signature flavor that artisan roasters prize. We highlight these micro-lot with our Roaster’s Choice offering.
Furthermore, you shall look for bags of whole-bean artisan roasted coffee upon which the following pieces of information are readily available: where the product was grown, and most importantly, when it was roasted. Freshly brewed coffee, the stuff you make in your Chemex or Duo Coffee Steeper, should be no more than a week “off roast.” Once you grind up a coffee bean, its volatile oils and aromas will begin to dissipate immediately. And so after even a few minutes, ground coffee left un-brewed is compromised beyond recognition. That is why, along with your first bag of Bell Lap Coffee, you shall invest in a quality Baratza burr grinder for your kitchen. Your days of purchasing pre-ground coffee are over.
Buy whole beans in a heat-sealed bag valved bag. This is your new mantra. This is The Way.
At Bell Lap Coffee we roast to order weekly using fresh Artisan coffees and then roasting them to bring out the best flavors possible.