Skeptics of recent trends toward buying more local products have raised questions over whether it’s worth buying something like artisan roasted coffee. But the truth is that if you want better-tasting coffee at home, buying it from an artisan coffee roaster is by far your best shot at getting it. Why? Here are three things that local small coffee roasters do differently:
- They Use Small Coffee Roasters
Tools aren’t everything, but they do make a big difference; small coffee roasters use small coffee roaster machines to turn green beans into the brown, aromatic beans that you know as coffee beans. These small batches allow them to roast only what they can sell in a timely manner, meaning you get fresher beans. That matters because coffee beans rapidly lose flavor after they’re roasted: within weeks if whole and within hours if ground. If you’ve never tasted coffee brewed with freshly roasted coffee beans, you’re in for a delicious surprise (you might even be able to rid yourself of sugary syrups and flavorings).
- They Don’t Burn Their Beans
A certain major coffee shop chain has taken the West Coast preference for dark roasts to an extreme across the nation, and the reality is that many people have had their palates trained to expect coffee that’s just plain burnt. The advantage of roasting coffee so dark is that it allows for a very consistent flavor, eliminating variation based on the source of the beans. But because local coffee roasting businesses are generally far less concerned with that kind of consistency — they’re not responsible for making sure every cup of coffee tastes the same whether you’re ordering it in Arizona or Vermont, after all — they can be more judicious about their roasting. There are certain beans that might benefit from a dark roast, but for others a lighter roast will bring out the unique origin characteristics of the beans. The more varieties of beans you try from your local roaster, the more you’ll learn to appreciate their individual profiles.
- They Engage With Customers
This may not directly affect the flavor of your coffee (though it might, if a roaster is acting on feedback from customers), but having a more personalized experience probably will help you to have a better overall opinion of the coffee you’re getting. You’ll probably also learn a lot about coffee just from occasionally chatting with the owners or workers at your local roasting shop or farmer’s market booth, which will almost certainly leave you with some tips on getting better-tasting coffee each and every day.
Can you taste the difference between generic and locally roasted coffee? Share your coffee experiences in the comments.