When we first asked our friends on Facebook what topics they would like to see us write about, one topic that stood out was why coffees vary in taste. This is a great question, and to be honest, one that I am still learning about. I find it very fascinating and worth giving attention to, so this will be the first blog post in a series on this topic. For today, I will share the main variables and touch on some examples of each.

Variety. Not surprising, the variety of coffee plays a large factor in the taste of coffee. There are 2 main species of coffee, Robusta and Arabica. Within these 2 species lie many different varieties and cultivars such as Typica, Caturra and Bourbon. More on that later.

Region. Much like wine, the region in which coffee is grown plays into the flavor profiles. Elevation, soil and climate all have an effect on taste as well as in quality.

Process. There are 3 main processes in which coffee undergoes. Washed, natural and honey. This is the way the fruit is removed from the bean.

Roast Level. You’ll often hear the terms light, medium or dark roast. This refers to the length of time the beans are roasted and has a very noticeable difference in taste. Light roasts leave more of the natural flavor of the bean, whereas darker roasts tends to take on more chocolate/nutty flavors due to the Maillard reaction.

Method of Brewing. Finally, the way in which the coffee is brewed also plays into the taste. Factors like grind size, thickness of filter used, water minerality, water temperature, ratio of coffee to water and flow rate all have a direct effect on the final taste.

From this brief overview you can see coffee is quite an interesting and complex beverage. I hope this has given a further appreciation for coffee. The skill and intention from each farmer, roaster and barista (or home brewer) is what sets the specialty coffee industry apart. Moving forward, I will devote a post to each of the above mentioned, so stay tuned to journey towards better understanding this tasty beverage.

Welcome! For our first blog post I was curious to see what our friends on Facebook wanted to read about, so I asked. As I was trying to decide between the responses, I realized there was an overlap between a couple of them. My first topic became clear.

The first response that I will touch on was:

What is your favorite product and why? The one thing you believe every patron should try.

I have never been one for favorites. I find more enjoyment in variety, so picking one of anything has always been difficult for me. What I like about one thing oftentimes doesn’t diminish what I enjoy about another.  For that reason, I’ll just say that I do not have an all out favorite. I think each roast and brewing method has something unique to offer. However, after some contemplation there was one brewing method that stood out to me, and that was the Chemex. So that brings me to the second topic recommendation:

The benefit of the Chemex coffee maker and best way to brew with it.

Before I tell you why I selected the Chemex, let mebacktrack and tell you a bit of the history and facts on this method of brewing coffee.

The Chemex was designed in 1941 by a chemist named Peter Schlumbohn. Side note: The Chemex is manufactured in Chicopee, MA, a city just 20 minutes from my hometown.... perhaps a contributing factor as to why I selected this method of brewing for this blog post. This American made method of brewing has gained popularity especially recently with third wave coffee shops and coffee enthusiasts. The Chemex has a few features that make it special. First is the design of a thicker filter. The coffee passes through a thick triple filter, which removes most of the coffee oils, acid and sediment. This produces a very smooth cup of coffee that allows you to taste the subtleties of the coffee. For this reason, lighter roast beans are a great choice in a Chemex as the flavor profiles of the natural bean are still intact. The shape of the brewer also plays into the finished product as it determines the flow rate. The length of time coffee is brewed has a direct impact on acidity or bitterness. Another factor that the designer took into account was the choice of material used. The glass allows the temperature of the water to maintain a consistent temperature throughout the brew, allowing for a more consistent cup. With coffee every detail affects the taste and consistency, so this level of control is a key factor. Another reason that Chemex is such a great method of brewing is that coffee is best fresh. The Chemex, like any of the manual style coffee brewers, allows you to make the amount you intend to enjoy as you are ready for it, that way you can enjoy every sip at its peak.

As to the best way to brew with the Chemex, we at Highwheeler Coffee have spent a great deal of time researching and taste testing. The end result was to grind the beans just a half of a grind size finer than for our drip coffee, bring the temperature of the water to 212 degrees, have a 1 to 15 ratio of coffee to water, and look for the brew to happen in 4-4 1/2 minutes. This produces a smooth yet flavorful cup of coffee that we hope you enjoy as much as we do.

So the reason I say this is a favorite, a must try for a coffee enthusiast, is that it really celebrates the complexities and variations in coffee beans. At Highwheeler Coffee the Chemex also allows you to sample some single estate specialty coffees. Our baristas can tell you some tasting notes you can expect and a little bit about the farm that grew the beans. The Chemex is a great choice for when you want to sit and really enjoy a cup of coffee. To me it is a method of brewing that highlights the quality and depth within the bean itself. In the third wave coffee industry we believe coffee to be a craft beverage, that many different factors play a role in the taste of the coffee. Given the attention and appreciation we hold for the skill of each farmer, roaster and barista, the Chemex allows us to really taste and enjoy an intentional beverage.