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Unlocking Excellence: A Guide to Roasting High-Scoring Coffees

In the wake of remote working becoming the new norm, the landscape of coffee consumption has shifted dramatically. With more individuals opting to brew their coffee at home, the demand for high-quality and specialty beans has surged. Roasters are seizing the opportunity to introduce customers to unique origins and processes, as well as pricier, exceptional coffees. However, the prospect of sourcing, roasting, and marketing these high-scoring beans can be both exciting and daunting. In this article, we'll delve into the intricacies of roasting high-scoring coffees and provide insights on what roasters should consider.

Green Bean Analysis
The journey towards roasting exceptional coffee begins with a thorough analysis of the green beans. Green bean analysis, which includes examining density, moisture content, water activity, screen size, and physical defects, is a cornerstone of selecting high-scoring beans. Quality coffees often exhibit stable and consistent physical metrics, such as moisture content between 9% and 12% and water activity under 0.6aw. These metrics guide roasters in assessing quality and inform roast profiles. While green bean analysis is more advanced today, grading based on size, like AA or Supremo, has historically been used.

A crucial factor to examine is the density of the beans, which is influenced by altitude. Beans grown at higher altitudes tend to be denser due to their slower maturation process. This density results in a more developed sugar content and flavour, contributing to a heightened acidity. Conversely, beans grown at lower altitudes mature faster and possess greater porosity. Yet, density is not solely determined by altitude; climate, species, varietal, processing, and storage conditions all play significant roles. The relationship between altitude and density is just one piece of the puzzle in sourcing high-quality beans.

Roasting high-scoring beans can be complex due to their complexity. Roasters often invest considerable time and beans in profiling these lots, which can be financially daunting. However, obsessing over perfection can hinder progress. The advice is to focus on getting the coffee into the hands of those who will appreciate it rather than spending excessive time on research and development. A high-scoring coffee can actually be simpler to roast due to its distinctive flavours, making it easier to identify and measure success. However, creating the ideal roast profile to get the most from your high-scoring coffees will require finesse.

High-density beans necessitate higher temperatures to prevent baking, while low-density beans demand less heat to avoid scorching. The physics of density dictate that smaller, high-density beans heat up faster than larger, low-density beans. Roasters must also decide whether they are roasting for espresso or filter methods, each requiring distinct profiles.

Maintaining Consistency
Consistency is paramount in roasting. While smaller batch roasters can reduce risk, they also increase the likelihood of inconsistency. Larger capacity roasters can offer improved consistency, and the volume roasted affects the likelihood of replicating a well-profiled roast. Balancing batch size and consistency is essential for maintaining quality.

Market Considerations
Sourcing high-scoring beans is not solely about charging higher prices. Understanding your target market is crucial. High-quality beans often cater to high-end cafes and home consumers, driving both premium prices and limited availability. These beans can serve as a marketing tool and drive traffic to your website and social media platforms. Even if volumes are low, they can draw attention to other beans with higher margins.

In conclusion, roasting high-scoring coffees is an intricate yet rewarding journey. Green bean analysis, profiling, and understanding your market are pivotal steps in this process. While achieving perfection in each roast is important, it's equally vital to strike a balance between refinement and ensuring your customers can savour the excellence of these exceptional beans. So, let these high-scoring coffees "see the world," and share their exceptional flavours with those who are eager to appreciate them.