July 09, 2019 3 min read
Welcome to the wonderful world of coffee roasting! Jamie O’Neill owns Upside Coffee Roasters and provides G+C with all the roasted beans that we offer as part of our range of products. Thecoffee beans that Jamie provides us are a sweet, classic blend - full-bodied and rich! Basically, we love him, (we love him so much we named ourUpside Zip after him…!), we love his coffee and we’d love you to get to know him and his work too!
Jamie got into roasting by way of a hospitality career, working in cafes in London and Berlin. As he got more interested in the industry, he moved from behind his espresso machine to become a roastery assistant and then production roaster. Everything he learnt, he learnt on the job - from making and tasting coffee to roasting, sourcing beans and doing batch tests.
Once he had moved back to Ireland, he decided to go it alone and start his own roasting business. The rest, as they say, is caffeine history and good Lord are we happy that Jamie has gone down this coffee roasting path!
Coffee Bean Roasting is a mysterious art and most of us don’t think twice about how on earth a bunch of once-green little beans somehow made their way magically into our morning (slash afternoon slash evening slash any time you can get it) cup of coffee. Here are some key things Jamie thinks you ought to know:
Air temperature and humidity can wreak havoc both on a bean harvest and on a roasting batch. Colder weather, for example, means the air going through the roaster itself will be cooler, requiring a longer roasting time. Staying on top of small changes like the air temperature when you’re roasting can mean the difference between a good batch, and an unsellable one.
Roasting is a process. Beans are harvested as red, ripe coffee ‘cherries’, hulled and then sent as green beans to Jamie in his Fairview roastery.
Once he’s happy with the beans, the roasting process begins! The roaster is pre-heated and monitored for temperature, to ensure consistency between batches. He then takes the beans in these batches (around 10kg each) and they’re dropped into the drum.
For round one of roasting, the heat level is fired up high. During the second half of the roast, Jamie very gently starts to remove heat - if the temperature of the beans gets too high, you wind up with an uneven roast. The beans are removed from the drum and placed in an enclosure to cool them down quickly, retaining the right flavours. They’re then tasted + tested and packaged up!
In the world of coffee bean roasting, cupping does not refer to the ancient form of alternative medicine where you wind up with circle marks on your back. No, rather it refers to the actual pouring into cups and tasting of your roast - grinding small amounts of roasted beans, brewing and then checking for flavour and quality.
This is a great way to hone your tastebuds to the different styles, aromas, body and taste of various beans. Jaime got right into this to develop his palate and the best of the best can tell the origin of the bean just from cupping.
Different countries harvest at different times of the year and some coffee-growing regions can have 2-3 harvests annually. Jamie only roasts beans that are less than 6 months from their harvesting date; every harvest (much like grapes used for wine), is different and produces different flavours. No two years are the same!
The act of roasting coffee transforms the physical and chemical properties of the coffee bean. The first part of roasting is ‘endothermic’, meaning the beans are absorbing heat, while the second part is ‘exothermic’ when beans are releasing heat.
The process essentially dehydrates the beans, causing them to expand in width, and become lighter in weight. The beans stay dry for shorter roasts but develop an oily texture when dark-roasted. Basically, there’s a lot of science involved!
Jamie is also quick to point out that within all these details, the main point is that coffee is delicious and you should drink it how you like it. His faves are beans sourced from Ethiopia and Brazil, brewed as espresso coffee (at work) or using a Moka pot (at home). Check out ourCoffee Bag Collection too - we use upcycled coffee sacks from Jamie’s bean deliveries to create these pieces - each one is unique!
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