Specialty Coffee from Start to Finish

March 19, 2019 Brad Haynes

Specialty Coffee from Start to Finish

What are some of the first ideas that pop into our minds when we hear the word COFFEE? For some of us words like caffeine, mornings, and community are what we think of when we think about a good cup of joe. For others, specific types of coffee come to mind like iced, Latte, Frappuccino. While specialty coffee is on the rise, there are still negative connotations associated with the drink and some think of words like bitter, sour, or even unhealthy. All of these ideas came about because of various farming, roasting, and brewing techniques. Baba Java is raising the standard in what it means to have a good cup of coffee and tearing down negative stigmas associated with it by being involved with the process from start to finish.

As with any trend, those who become early adopters have the potential to influence and direct the path it heads down. Specialty coffee is no exception. Really until the early 2000s most coffee in America was wrapped up in commercial instant drip. Often it was simply a caffeine fix and those who drank it only managed to force it down by means of more cream and sugar than actual black coffee. Now, techniques in farming, roasting, and brewing have allowed for natural coffee to be enjoyable and even preferable over alternatives with additives. While there will be some who will never acquire a taste for straight black coffee (at which we would to point to our many other crafted milk and tea drinks) we at Baba Java want to capture a new generation with the natural flavors and benefits of the drink. 

From the Farm

It is no secret that many cafes and coffee shops have relationships with some of their farmers. There are a small amount however that are involved with the process from start to finish. This is why coffee is improving by the day. Baba Java is in the minority that takes the time to understand the natural flavors of their coffees. Coffee has natural flavors and sweetnesses that additives mask. Often those who mill the coffee will write the natural notes with the packages they ship. These notes are always prevalent in the final cup. Our goal is to draw out as many of these flavors as possible.

In the Roaster

The process of roasting is arguably the most important factor in determining the flavor and mouthfeel of the coffee. Some coffee roasters want consistent flavors across all of their beans. By creating dark roasts they can easily do this. Their flavors often taste more bitter (which isn’t always a bad thing to have) and have a thicker mouthfeel when brewed. Other roasters roast their coffee very lightly which allows for more acidity and extremely sweet flavors, but can lack some viscosity and pleasant mouthfeel when tasted. By taking the time to understand the climates, elevation, and processes that our coffee beans were produced in, we have decided that the optimal roasting times and temperatures point to something in between these two ends of the spectrum. Our coffee is considered medium roast which allows for sweetness. It also allows the notes to be discovered, but sustained through mouthfeel and an ideal bitterness that keeps the cup balanced and tasty.

When roasting, it is important to listen for a distinct cracking sound within the chamber of the roaster. When beans are heated to a certain temperature, they begin to release water and gas, causing the beans to crack. After this first crack the time that the beans remain in the chamber will largely determine the roast profile. It is very important to listen for this crack because without it, the roaster cannot know how long to leave the beans in the machine. Therefore one could say the flavor of the coffee is determined by the time of the crack. From temperature, to time before crack, time after crack, and the rate of temperature increase throughout the roast, we have fine-tuned our process to produce the most refreshing cup of coffee you’ll ever have.

In the Shop

Upon coming into our shop, many immediately notice the interesting machinery that is located about the area. We have our batch roaster, which includes automated technology that allows for precise control and consistency. Our Ground Control™  batch brewer is one of three in the southeast U.S. and winner of best new product in the Specialty Coffee Association Expo in 2018. This batch brewer is automated and refined for precise flavors every time. Our pour over station makes the process automated as well and will be controlled by our trained baristas. Espresso is something that requires a special touch and will easily have the most room for variance in flavor. Our baristas have been training for months and now feel confident to deliver a sweet and savory shot. In the future we will have upcoming articles to highlight our state-of-the-art technology in the shop. In the mean-time stop by our cafe March 30th for our Grand Opening to see them in action!

Coffee has come a long way in recent years. The more involved a coffee a drinker is in the process leading to their cup, the more likely they will have a cup that will satisfy. There are so many variables that play into the final drink. We want to be the advocate that is involved in all facets of the final brew to help allow for a flavor that remains consistent and flavorful time and again. This is the reason Baba Java is involved with the coffee process-from relationships with farmers, to the roasting, and the brewing. We are excited to be joining the Coffee scene in Birmingham. Stop by in a few weeks and we’d love to show you more!