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Stumptown Coffee

Coffee is about pleasure. It’s that moment when your hand is warmed by the mug, you raise it to your nose, inhale deeply and then take a sip.

That sip is the culmination of years of work, three-thousand mile journeys, and passion. Here is how we make that sip perfect. You are smelling the most complex thing humans consume. When people talk about the flavors of coffee — notes of orange, or hints of clove — it’s because those organic molecules are contained in the coffee bean. If a coffee reminds you of apple pie, it’s because coffee shares some of the same components as food, like lactic and malic acid.

Inside that small bean are the same natural components that make flowers smell so lovely, the same ethers that let you know when a piece of fruit is ripe. Coffee has twice as much going on, molecularly speaking, as red wine.

When tasting coffee, try waiting for it to cool down a little — you’ll be able to taste (and smell) the most when it’s the same temperature as your body.

Flavor only matters in the context of you. What do you like? What does this scent remind you of? Are you looking for a full-bodied cowboy coffee, or a delicate, tea-like finish? Chocolate aromas, or hints of jasmine?

Don’t worry if you can’t describe it precisely, or have a different perception than someone else. Even when you can’t put it into words, you’ll know what you like.

You experience the full flavors of the coffee bean if and only if nothing has gone wrong during… Someone stands by that roaster, all day, a person who knows exactly how to bring the best out of every bean — that ideal ratio of sweetness to acidity, that balance — because he or she has been doing this for years.

Again and again, they repeat the same motion: pull a tiny sample of the beans. Stare at them, looking for the tiny signs of perfection. Smell them deeply. Put them back. Pull out some more beans. Stare. Smell. Five seconds later, repeat the process in a meditation that last hours. Do that hundreds of times a day. Do that every day for years.

Know every bean on a personal level. Adjust times and temperatures throughout the day, knowing that 15 seconds could make the difference between letting this bean shine and overwhelming it. Know that in the morning, the roaster is cold. Know that in the evening it’s hot, and you should probably shave 45 seconds off that roast.

Roast just enough to bring out the best and full potential of what’s inherent in each particular coffee already. Roast to draw out things like acidity, floral notes, chocolate, molasses, and earth. All of the coffee’s flavor potentials are presented at the first crack – an audible signal that happens at a particular point when roasting coffee. After that, roast just enough to add the right amount of body and sweetness, without degradation.

Roasting different coffees as though they’re the same? Not going to work. Roasting for color, not taste? Never this.

Please don’t burn those beans. They’ve been through so much. They’ve come all the way across the world.


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