Let’s face it, fresh is better. There’s no denying that all things are better when extra time and care are put into them. Coffee is no exception, which is why small batch roasting is on the rise, and is the next wave of coffee. Small batch roasting puts freshly roasted coffee in your cup within days of roasting versus coffee that is months old, still sitting on super market shelves, or worse, still sitting in a warehouse somewhere.
“Small-batch roasters are at the forefront of a trend that has spilled over from the beer industry. Much like the boom in U.S. craft breweries, more and more coffee shops are now roasting their own beans from New York to Chicago to Seattle. The shift away from mass-produced coffee lets discerning cafe owners tell caffeinated customers exactly where their beans came from — something sustainability-minded clientele increasingly care about.” (Big Coffee Has a Problem…Bloomberg Report, March 2019).
Your Daily Cup Should be Fresh
Several things contribute to the optimum freshness of your daily cup including growing and harvesting methods, packaging, whole bean or pre-ground, storage and roasting date. Its best to consume coffee within 1-2 months of roast date if whole bean. If coffee is ground after roast then it should be consumed within 1-2 weeks of roast date.
Small batch roasting provides a better alternative to the large scale coffee roasters in several important ways:
Roasting in Small Quantities
Small quantities help guarantee freshness. Those roasting in small batches usually have limited shelf capacity and only stock what they can quickly sell helping to eliminate spoilage and waste.
Small batch merchants normally roast on site. You can often walk into a small batch roasting coffee shop and hear beans cracking or smell the tell-tale signs of a recent roast. You get to see the merchant you buy from roasting the coffee that will eventually go home with you.
By roasting in smaller batches, roasters have greater levels of control and consistency of the final product. There is a more hands-on-approach.
Creating smaller batches of coffee allows the roaster to fine-tune their craft, making sure the right beans are chosen or blended for that perfect roast. Some large batch roasters are outputting 6,000kg per hour on large industrial machines built for volume not quality. On the other hand, small batch roasters can typically output 5kg-50kg per hour depending on the size of the machine. The smaller volumes make it vastly easier to monitor consistency, be innovative with new roasting profiles, and make small adjustments along the way to the final product. Not to mention, a spoiled roast batch for a small batch roaster costs far less than the same mistake if made on a large industrial roasting machine.
Passion and Care
Smaller coffee merchants have an extra level of passion and care that is often missing from the large-scale coffee vendors. This passion and care for the roasting craft contributes to superior quality control and attention to detail that cannot be matched in large batches.
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