Coffee, at its basic level, is quite simple: hot, strong, and delicious. If pressed, you might say that it’s sweet or possibly bitter. But that’s pretty much it, right? In reality, however, coffee is an astonishingly complex drink. The total number of different aromatic compounds found in coffee is still not completely known, but the current estimate stands at more than 800, and it’s increasing every year. All this means is that the possible flavor variations in your cup are essentially infinite. This can make choosing a coffee seem quite daunting, but if approached with the right frame of mind can also be a continuous journey of discovery.
The basic components of coffee are Aroma (how it smells), Brightness (the potential for a high, sharp citrus element), Flavor (how it tastes) and Body (how it sits, or how heavy it feels, in your mouth). Then there are the distinctive flavors individual to the particular region: our Kenya Nyeri Rukira, for example, has an almost tea-like quality, combined with a searching tart cherry note. Our Sumatra Lintong, meanwhile, is full bodied, with an earthy sweetness that is unique to that part of South-east Asia.
There are also specific flavors based on processing methods that might have a bearing on which coffee you choose to drink. For example, a natural processed Sidamo from Ethiopia will inherently contain earthy, blueberry notes due to the fact that the coffee bean is sun-dried while still inside the cherry. A washed Guatemala, by contrast, will contain cleaner, brighter notes and a more balanced, chocolatey body, because of the amount of water used in processing.
Finally, different roast levels can accentuate all these characteristics, and will have a big influence over how the coffee eventually tastes in your cup. In simple terms, a lighter roast will bring out more of the unique flavor components of a coffee and will also generally be brighter than a darker roast. A darker roast will reveal more roastiness and sweet sugar flavors. Very dark coffees, such as an Italian roast, tend to be very oily and can often verge on the singed flavors reminiscent of burnt sugar, or charred meat on a grill.
At Mighty Good, we roast to bring out the unique flavor profiles of all our single origin coffees, while our signature blends tend towards the darker side. As a rule, we never roast our coffee to a level so dark that the taste would be affected, or just to make a dark coffee for the sake of it. Instead, we carefully examine each individual coffee and assess the characteristics we wish to highlight. Only then do we offer it for sale through our café and local grocery stores.