Confused about coffee terms? What should we know about coffee? Today hear from our hometown coffee roaster!
If you love coffee, today's post will help you understand the terms associated with it, and you'll hear from Floyd, a local coffee roaster in our hometown. The store he owns with his sons is where we get all of our coffee, and because it's so good, now I can't really enjoy any other kind. Everything else tastes off to me and is no where near as smooth and wonderful. I was excited to learn more from him about where our coffee comes from. Even though it isn't grown locally, it feels good buying from a local roaster who we trust to know where to get the best beans and how to handle them safely.
- Redeeming my Morning Coffee: What should we and should we not be adding to our coffee?
- Getting rid of the plastic toxins in your coffee. (If you have a Keurig-type coffee maker, you'll want to read this. Avoid using stryofoam cups whenever possible, too!)
- Should we be drinking coffee? (A good, balanced post from my friend, Kristen.)
First, though, you'll hear from Peggy, a long-time reader friend, about which coffee is best, along with her thoughts after doing a bunch of research on coffee.
What Peggy found in her research:
“I did a bunch of research on coffee and learned some important things…
- First, some people tolerate it better than others.
- It can be slightly dehydrating and can cause slight calcium loss, so if you're dealing with those issues, best to minimize coffee intake.
- Coffee beans are susceptible to mold, especially beans that are handled poorly, and mold MAKES YOU SICK.
- Low end (aka cheap) coffee is a blend of beans from a lot of places, beans that don't make the grade for high end (aka expensive) coffee, and beans that are poorly handled (think of a pound of ground meat coming from thousands of cows and you'll get why that's a bad idea.)
- High temperature roasting destroys the valuable antioxidants in coffee.
- The processes of making decaf are not health-sustaining.
- Boiled coffee tastes BAD.
- Coffee growers are often not paid reasonably for their product.
So, for me: single origin beans from a reputable source, shade grown, fairly traded, low temperature roasted, NEVER decaffeinated, ground immediately before use, brewed with a pour-over or french press with the purest water I can manage, served with A2 grassfed raw cream (or blended with unsalted butter from A2 grassfed raw cream). Yeah, I'm a coffee snob. But you know what? One cup of that and I don't need five cups of Maxwell House.”
A conversation with Floyd, owner of Herman's Boy in Rockford, Michigan:
When I spoke with Floyd, I asked him about some of the coffee terms Peggy used, and I also asked some questions that I'd been wondering about coffee for years…
- Do you do ‘low-temp roasting' to preserve antioxidants? “No. Slow, small-batch roasting is what we do. Big companies can roast as much as 100,000 pounds in 6 minutes; we do 25 pounds in 25 minutes – slow-roasting preserves antioxidants.”
- Why does your coffee stay fresh in the freezer? “We roast only small, 10 to 25 pound batches, and then the coffee beans are cooled with air only. (Larger coffee roasters must use water to quickly cool the beans and keep them from changing the roast darkness.) As long as they're absolutely dry, the freezer will prevent the coffee, beans or ground, from deteriorating, causing a rancid, bitter taste. We know this method keeps coffee fresh up to 6 months in the freezer, we've done experiments and even coffee snobs can’t tell. Remember, just as you don't ask when bread was sliced to determine its freshness, but instead ask when it was baked, with coffee you should ask when it was roasted, because when it was ground or brewed doesn't determine its freshness. We also suggest that our customers buy ground coffee from us and freeze instead of grinding it at home, because our grinders will grind more evenly and finer than most home models, and without changing the flavor of the coffee.“
- What does the term ‘fair trade' mean? “It can mean overpaying for a lower quality product. When this happens, have you really helped the grower? Instead, for higher wages, growers should be taught to provide higher quality coffee, not just rewarding people for living in poorer areas. It's just like government subsidies, it's a broken system. For example, we buy some of our coffees from La Manita farm in Costa Rica. There they provide health care, dental care, and lodging for their employees, but they'll be fired if they don't do the job correctly.” (See the bottom of this post for a video about this farm.)
- How important is ‘shade-grown'? “Premium coffee is planted at a higher elevation and is considered ‘shade grown'. Too much sun hurts the plant, so fruit or citrus trees are grown strategically to provide shade. Coffee is not grown in the middle of a jungle.”
- What about the term, ‘organic', how can we know if coffee is chemical-free? “When we at Herman's Boy buy coffee, we only buy the highest grade Arabica beans available, we concentrate on quality first and the “buzz-words” second. Certifications on “organic” means there was a charge to get that certification and you spent more money. All premium coffees we buy are organic, whether it's labeled or not, because we know the sources, and it's grown at higher sea levels, 5000 feet and above, where there are usually no bugs.” (This is Kelly jumping in… I'm not so sure about this now, a few years later… I've been buying organic coffee because I've learned in my research that coffee is actually a highly sprayed crop…)
- What do you think about flavored coffee beans? “To me that's like putting ketchup on a steak. Coffee is like the grapes used to make wine or like any other produce, it tastes different depending on the soil that it's grown in. When you drink flavored coffee you mask that and can't appreciate the subtle differences. I like to enjoy the taste of the good rare coffees of the world. I refused to sell the flavored coffee for years, but the ladies wanted it.”
- Are decaffeinated coffees bad for our health? “You'll want to get a coffee that isn’t chemically decaffeinated – look for the Swiss water label – this is a patented process with no chemicals used. Surprisingly, most people can't tell a difference between our decaf and regular.”
A side-note about flavored coffees…
Floyd's son, Jeff, took me in the back one time and showed me the tiny amount of flavoring that goes into a large amount of coffee beans when roasting flavored coffees. Because of that I was okay with continuing to drink it, since I love the stuff, but Floyd got me thinking more about this. And this post did, too: The Dark Disgusting Secrets of the Flavor Makers. So I'm going to try getting a lighter roast of coffee the next time I go, and then adding some of my yummy real whipped cream, and maybe a drop or two or organic vanilla or almond extract, to see if I can make my own lightly flavored coffee. (I don't like sweet coffee, but for those that do, you could try honey, maple syrup, or another natural sugar.) Even better, I should start trying to adapt my palate so I can appreciate the taste of coffees from different parts of the world, as Floyd said. I'll let you know how it goes!
Watch this video on the La Manita farm in Costa Rica:
Floyd & Sharon Havemeier started The Melting Pot in Rockford, Mi in the fall of 1979, employing their teenage sons Jeff and Doug. The Melting Pot sold cheese & sausage from the Midwest, nuts roasted in Grand Rapids & Chicago, baked bagels and jumbo cookies, and sold coffees roasted by The Coffee Ranch of Grand Rapids, Michigan. In 1982 Floyd was offered the chance to buy the assets of the Coffee Ranch and did so. The equipment was moved to the shop in Rockford. The Coffee Ranch blend recipes were also part of the deal, and Jeff, Floyd and Doug were given a crash course on coffee roasting. Jeff eventually became the main roaster and learned his craft by trial and error, listening to his customers and asking advice of his green coffee bean brokers. The goal of Herman's Boy is to turn over its roasted coffee in less than 48 hours. They also desire to remain a small company and are a “store that never has a sale” – you'll never find coupons, as they believe in consistently offering a good product for fair prices. The Coffee Ranch roasting company has been roasting coffee in Kent County for 113 years, and they've owned the company for 33 of those years.
Thanks Floyd and Jeff for your help with this post!
Here are the coffee posts from the archives:
- A good balanced article on the benefits vs. the risks to your health if you drink coffee: Should We Drink Coffee?
- Redeeming my Morning Coffee (What you should and should not be adding to your coffee.)
- A Cup of Coffee Without Plastic Toxins Please! (If you have a Keurig-type coffee maker, you'll want to read this.)
- Gettin’ Real About Coffee Enemas with a Q & A – Coffee Enema Benefits