Tuesday, August 11, 2009

How to pick a coffee roaster

Thought I would write a quick article on picking a coffee roaster, not a actual roaster but a company that roasts coffee. I truly believe that finding a coffee roaster you can develop a relationship with can enrich your coffee drinking experience. Finding a knowledgeable and passionate coffee roaster with an operation small enough that they have time to take out and talk and educated their customers is so important. Coffee roasters are wealth of coffee knowledge, and generally cool people.
So what should you look for when picking a coffee roaster?
There are a few elements I think are important when picking a coffee roaster. They should be local, fair trade, and passionate.
A local coffee roaster has many benefits for the consumer. The first is they will be able to get your coffee to you much quicker which means the coffee will be fresher. Many small coffee roasters will take orders on Monday, roast on Wednesday, and deliver on Friday. This means your coffee was roasted to order and is as fresh as possible. This means tastier coffee. The second way a local roaster benefits you is by contributing to your local economy, which is the economy that affects you the most.
You should look for roasters that offer fair trade coffee. It may not be realistic to find a roaster that offers exclusively fair trade or organic coffee, but they should at least be making an honest effort and appear to be responsible coffee purchasers. By doing this you are contributing to the economy of others and making it more fair and sustainable.
Passionate and knowledgeable, this one is a little tricky since it would be hard to find a coffee roaster that didn’t claim to be passionate about coffee. I would recommend finding a roaster that is small enough you can talk with those involved in the roasting process. You will be able to tell if they truly care about the coffee they are producing or if they are just punching the clock. Ask questions about the coffee they roast. Do they know what the climate conditions where affecting the crops they purchased from? Are they knowledgeable about the regions and farms their coffee is grown on? Even if you can’t meet with them in person send an email or call them on the phone. A good coffee roaster is always happy to talk about coffee.
I want to point out to that I think it is important to try coffee from different roasters. Of course this all take a back seat to taste. That is the point of coffee after all. If you find a coffee roaster over the internet that you can’t get enough of, then who I am I to tell you to switch.

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