Busting some myths
The two statements “I like Italian coffee” and “I prefer a strong roast” are often heard. Starting with the easy one, coffee has never been successfully grown in Italy. There is therefore no such thing as Italian coffee. What does exist is what we call an Italian roast, a particularly dark roast. Flavour oils seep to the surface leaving the beans with an oily sheen to them. Little of the original bean characteristics will be evident after being overpowered by a smoky bittersweet flavour. Few artisanal roasters will offer this roast style.
Bigger, taller, stronger
When you want a strong drink, be this whisky or an orange cordial, you alter your mix ratio to taste. This is exactly the same with coffee. Whilst we tend to use a milder roast for filter coffee and a darker roast for drinks which are dominated by milk, this is not about strength but rather about matching a roast style to suit the extraction method. Espresso (quick) extracts flavour in under 30 seconds using a finely ground coffee whereas filter coffee seeps for four minutes or more, extracting flavour from a courser grind. Dark and medium roasts and their grind size and the mix ratio are matched to these processes. If you want a so-called stronger cappuccino or latte, slip in an extra shot of espresso, it’s simple.
“Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud.”
Alan Hawkins is the chief roaster at the East London Coffee Co. www.elcoffee.co.za. Contact: [email protected]