Green Coffee & Origins
Where do you get your coffee from?
Pretty much everywhere. We source from most major growing regions (South America, Central America, Africa, and Southeast Asia) all at once, we are using between ten and twenty different coffees in our Single Origin and Blend products at any given time.
What is the best coffee you have?
Its hard to pick any one coffee as The Best, even if I had the whole world's inventory to work from. Some well-known 'premium' names don't cup as premium as I'd expect or want, while the current market 'top' option is something really appealing to coffee geeks but not generally as well received by most consumers; 'Panama Geisha' is astoundingly expensive, I really enjoy it, but I wouldn't feel certain that it'd live up to the hype in recommending it to a stranger. Coffee, and coffee preference, I think are a little too complicated for absolute answers.
But to stop dodging the question; I really like our Ethiopian Sidamo Hache right now, but my absolute favourite of all time is a Bali Kintamani, which we're out of at the moment but we stock whenever we've a chance. Those two are "Best!" to me.
Why do your products - and blends - keep changing?
One thing coffee (the industry) has learned is that coffee (the bean) is a "seasonal product", and while green beans have far greater longevity than roasted ones do, that lifespan is not infinite. Numbers between nine months and three years get floated as a lifespan, but we typically order between eight and fourteen months worth of a bean we choose to stock, to give us time to reach the next years' crop. But...
I miss Bolivian Cenaproc!
So do I, trust me. If 'this' years' crop isn't up to the same standards as last years', we don't re-order, and sometimes that means we have to simply call a product 'done.' Bolivian Cenaproc was an exceptionally successful and popular Single Origin coffee we ran as our flagship S/O medium-dark roast back when I first started, and we've been unable to re-buy stock up to the standards of the original ever since.
Roasting & Roasted Coffee
How do you roast your coffee?
This is a huge question, and one that could take a days' reading for an over-detailed answer, or sound trite and smarmy if I shortchange on details instead.
We use a Toper Izmir drum roaster, with approximately 60KG capacity, but we find we get best results with between 40lb and 80lb batch sizes. Each batch takes between thirteen and twenty minutes in the drum, with usually from five to fifteen minutes down time between batches. Our target end temperature for each batch changes depending on what we're roasting and how dark we want to take it, but our lightest roast is usually just above 390°F, while the darkest we go is about 450°. It's the combination the chosen end temperature, alongside how fast or slow we get there, that most impact our ability to affect how any given batch will taste.
Why Fahrenheit? This is Canada!
Yeah. It's an old roaster and that's the measurement it displays in and its thermostat thinks in, so that's the units we use and talk about. Additionally, a lot of current industry leaders are American, and discuss their roasting in the units that are familiar to them - its easier for us to learn from them if we're already using the same units in the same places.
If it's any consolation, the overwhelming bulk of coffee brewing, even in America, now uses Metric measures for recipes (g/ml for coffee and water alike), and many are also using C° for brew water temperature.
How long is roasted coffee 'safe' for, how long is it 'good' or 'fresh' for?
Safe: You may have seen 'best before' dates on supermarket coffee offering months' of lifespan, and may also have heard coffee nerds telling you that any coffee older than (a week, two weeks, a month) is stale and ruined. Who's right, who's wrong? Depends what we're talking about - even 'stale' coffee is still safe for ages, those best-by dates are absolutely honest as far as safety.
Good: Roasted coffee is kinda like crackers. It's safe to consume for ages, but it's not particularly nice to consume for large portions of the time it is technically still safe. The best before dates are telling you how long it's safe, but not how long it'll taste nice - for that, you need a roast date and want to know more about 'freshness' than safety or the ambiguous "still good".
Fresh: Coffee does also stay 'nice' or fresh longer than a lot of people would suggest. Most consumers start noticing a loss of deliciousness between three and four weeks in a side-by-side comparison against week-old samples of the same product. If you want a 'hard rule' - three weeks. But many coffees will last longer, and many people are willing to tolerate some measure of staleness in their cup over throwing out coffee - I recommend simply letting your own palate guide you.
How about those specialised storage devices & gadgets, or air-valve bags? How much do those help?
To start with the simple answer, 'some, but not much help, unless in certain circumstances'. Coffee lasts about four weeks before people notice staleness, and fancier storage (everything I've got my grubby paws on so far) hasn't extended that much. In most cases, they only really work if the beans are put in while still degassing enough to force the bulk of the sealed-in oxygen out, and then not reopened until 'needed'. Once you open and close the jar once or twice, the fancy air-escape valve isn't anything other than ornamental. All told, if left sealed until the 4th week, you get a few extra days compared to when the same coffee, in-bag, started going off.
Your coffees have recommended brewing? What if I don't have one of those, or don't know what that product is?
All of our coffees (and pretty much everyone else's, too) can be brewed however you like to brew coffee. If you really like that method, you'll probably like that coffee more your way than however we recommend it. Our suggested brewing methods are simply the ways we feel flattered our vision of our products most - but coffee is coffee, and any way you can brew coffee, you can brew any coffee. ;)
What about espresso beans? Can I use them like coffee? Can I use coffee as espresso?
Sure thing! Espresso is a preparation type, not a particular kind of bean, or particular roast. Any coffee can be extracted under pressure, so any coffee can be 'an espresso.' Coffee companies like us have 'espresso' products because we've put special effort into making sure those beans really do taste great brewed as espresso. Just because you can brew any coffee under pressure doesn't mean it'll make a shot of espresso you'll enjoy at the far side, and coffees labelled 'espresso' just mean that the roaster made sure this one should be tasty.