Whether or not you have a go-to coffee, you probably have an idea of what you like. Something with a smoky taste, so you can add a splash of milk; or perhaps something on the sweeter side for your cold brew. We want to help you dig in a little deeper and learn more about every one of the roast colors, and what you’re tasting in your cup of coffee!
For each roast color, we’re highlighting a coffee that is really standing out right now. These recommendations come straight from our Roastmaster and Roastmaster Emeritus on what coffee they’re drinking these days. However, we DO want to encourage you to go outside the box, and take a look through all the coffees and roast colors on our website–try a variety to find that perfect cup!
Ready to dive in? Let’s start with the light roasts, and make our way to the dark side…
Light Roast Coffee
Nuanced • Bright • Lively
In the lighter roasts (both light and medium), you can taste the nuance and impact of terroir. If you’re a single origin lover, these coffees are your go-to. With a light roast especially, the specific qualities unique to the coffee’s origin stand out. If you’re sticking with Vienna and French roasts (the darker beans), you have to work harder to tell the differences between origins. With light, it’s all there in the first sip.
For those of you that cup your coffee and take the time to taste every flavor, the lights and mediums are probably the roasts for you. When purchasing a single origin coffee, the great ones are best at this roast color.
Light Roast Recommendation
Our Nicaraguan Flor de Jinotega is really making an impact right now. We received a fresh crop as of the beginning of June, and it’s tasting nutty, chocolaty, smooth and sweet. A really pleasing cup!
Medium Roast Coffee
Nutty • Spicy • Balanced • Fruity
Roasted about 20 degrees Fahrenheit higher than the light, the color on a medium roast coffee bean shifts into a chocolate brown. As you move from the light roast to the medium, the bright and lively acidity morphs into a smoother, deeper, and more balanced mouth feel. In every sip of a medium roast, you’ll find that a certain mellowness and maturity prevails.
Medium Roast Recommendation
Thanksgiving Coffee has many medium roasts that stand out, but our Fairtrade and Organic Mocha Java is a classic that we love more and more every time we brew it. This coffee has that balanced and nuanced flavor we referenced above, and was described as having a “delicately sweet aroma” by CoffeeReview.com, where it scored 90 points.
Dark Roast Coffee
Bold • Spicy • Chocolaty
The coffee bean color on our dark roast (sometimes called the Vienna roast) is still more brown than black. You could compare it to the color of baker’s chocolate. When this coffee is freshly roasted, the beans will have a shiny coat of coffee oils on their surface. The greatest dark roast coffees will have hints of carbonization, but shouldn’t be described as smoky or toasty — we’ll leave those descriptors to the very dark roast.
Dark Roast Recommendation
The preferred dark roast of the Thanksgiving Coffee Roastery right now is our Congo Coffee. Just launched earlier this year, this single origin is changing the way we think of dark roasts. As you sip this coffee, you’ll notice rich notes of chocolate and spice, with a syrupy mouthfeel.
Toasty • Smoky • Caramelized Sugars
Ah, the “French Roast.” This is the coffee that goes great with a splash of milk. The coffee bean color on our very dark roast is more black than brown, with rich and copious levels of surface oil. Roasted long and hot to produce deep carbony, smoky flavor notes. A well-made French roast will have caramelized sugar notes, licorice and roasted chestnut flavors, and a long wet (not ashy) finish.
Very Dark Roast Recommendation
We recommend the Sumatra as our very dark roast selection for a very good reason: you don’t find many single origin coffees that are roasted to this color. It takes some work to create a French roast that still has the flavors and nuances of origin, and this coffee does that well.
As we sign off on our roast color education, we want to remind you of something: if you aren’t sure you’ll like it, give it a try! Are you regularly a French roast lover? Give medium a go. Religiously purchase the Bolivia Light Roast? Add the Rwanda Medium to your order this month for something new. The best way to develop your taste preferences is to get outside your box and liven up your selection.
Enjoy your roast color adventure!
Oh yes, you CAN blend different roast colors! Paul Katzeff created an app for all you iPhone users to explain this even more. It’s called Smart Coffee, and it was designed to help you blend roast colors, and create a flavor profile that is specific to YOU. Check it out!
Here’s a cold brew marinade for those foggy summer weekends (or anytime, actually) when company’s coming, and you have a bit of prep time. You will need a full two days for prep, and another ten hours for the slow cooker.
One 12oz package of Thanksgiving Coffee Kona Blend, cold brewed for 24 hours. I used our Cold Brew Kit. Once the cold brewing was complete (24 hours) I filtered the coffee using a mesh filter. If you don’t have one of those, simply pour off the cold brew into a second container until you see the sludge. Set the strained cold brew aside. Discard any solids left at the bottom of the cold brew kit, and you’re left with roughly 50 to 56 ounces of cold brew coffee.
I bought two chuck roasts. Chuck roasts are an inexpensive cut, but flavorful.
I put the cold brew into a container that I knew could contain the roasts and the cold brew. A lidded container is preferable, but if you don’t have one, use cling wrap to seal it off. Use enough cold brew to completely cover the meat.
I then placed the meat, covered in cold brew, in the refrigerator for 24 hours. Once the cold brew marinade process was over, I poured the leftover cold brew coffee into a container and set it aside.
As you can see, planning ahead is essential as two 24 periods are involved, and THEN a ten hour cook time.
But it’s worth it.
I then used the directions on a product called Johnny’s French Dip Au Jus. This product can be found in most grocery stores, or online, these days. You only need one little bottle, but I usually buy two and keep one in the pantry. Johnny’s French Dip Au Jus contains: Water, Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein (Corn, Soy, Wheat), Red Wine Vinegar, Tomato Paste, Worcestershire Sauce. The basic recipe for the au jus, according to the label on the little bottle is two parts water to one part au jus. Instead of the recommended water, I used the cold brew that I had marinated the roasts in. Using those directions, I ended up with 3 cups of au jus liquid. It pretty much covered the roasts. You can make more of the au jus if you wish. Make enough to cover the roast (or roasts) completely.
I refrigerated any remaining cold brew to save in case it was needed. Any product that has touched raw meat should be refrigerated.
Cooking the Pot Roast
I set the slow cooker to ten hours and let it cook. For ten hours.
A coffee-saturated roast beef was the result. The coffee flavor was evident but not overwhelming and taste tests went well. A wide rage of ages (15 to 67) tasted the roast at completion and enjoyed it.
I didn’t really need the extra cold brew marinade so I discarded it. For health and safety reasons, I didn’t freeze it, or save it for later. Any product that has touched raw meat should be discarded if not used in a timely fashion.
You can add carrots, potatoes and any number of vegetables associated with standard pot roast recipes, but I chose to not include them in this recipe because I wanted to taste what a strict coffee au jus and meat only combination tasted like. I’m sure adding the vegetables would be just fine, and I’ll probably do that next time!
Biologists have only recently started understanding how and why temperature affects the taste of food and beverages. No research has been conducted specifically regarding coffee. But there are three main theories; the first holds that lukewarm coffee tastes bad because cavemen didn’t have refrigerators.
Karel Talavera of the Laboratory of Ion Channel Research in Cuba has studied the way that taste receptors inside our taste buds respond to molecules at different temperatures. He and his colleagues found that certain taste receptors are most sensitive to food molecules in the 20 to 35 degree Celsius (68 to 95 degree Fahrenheit) range — in other words, molecules at or just above room temperature. The taste receptors in question don’t always register molecules much hotter or colder than this range, so we don’t taste them.
“This is still an obscure phenomenon that we cannot explain, but that could fit to the fact that taste perception does decrease above a certain temperature,” Talavera says. In short, hot coffee (around 170 degrees F) may seem less bitter than room-temperature coffee (73 degree F) because our bitter taste receptors aren’t as sensitive to bitter molecules in the coffee when those molecules are hot.
According to Talavera, our sensory systems tend to be designed by evolution to perform most effectively at the temperatures we are typically exposed to. “Our ancestors did not eat food at extreme temperatures,” he said. Their meals consisted of mostly foraged berries and freshly hunted meat in the 20 to 37 degree Celsius range — almost exactly the window in which our taste buds are most sensitive. Because piping hot or ice-cold coffee falls outside this realm of maximum taste, our taste buds don’t sense the drink’s true bitterness.
However, the temperature-dependence effect observed by Talavera and colleagues is more pronounced for sweet taste receptors than bitter ones, and so it may not be the only factor at work. Some researchers think tepid coffee’s bitterness has more to do with smell than taste. “Odors influence coffee flavor very strongly, and it is easy to go from sublime to horrible,”Paul Breslin, an experimental psychologist who studies taste perception at Rutgers University, wrote in an email. Even very bitter coffee, such as espresso, tastes great when hot because of its pleasant aroma, he pointed out.
According to Barry Green, a taste perception scientist at Yale University, hot coffee releases more aromatic compounds than room-temperature coffee, so it has a greater chance of impacting taste. He also said that milk, coffee’s frequent companion, tastes worse at room temperature, and a combination of these factors probably explains the nearly universal opinion that lukewarm coffee leaves something to be desired.
One last theory holds that hot coffee’s heat could be distracting us from its strong flavor. As Breslin put it, “It is possible that an attentional mechanism is at work. You do not think about how bitter or sweet [coffee] is when it is hot or cold. Hot coffee may force you to think about temperature, which is a bit of a distraction from its bitterness.”
None of the researchers profess to fully understand coffee’s temperature-dependent deliciousness, but it seems to be at least slightly, only a matter of opinion.
In order to make coffee infused vodka, you will need the Primula Cold Brew Maker to begin. I’ve used it, and for this recipe, it’s essential. If you use another type, you’re on your own. Now that you’ve got your Primula cold brew coffee maker, you will also need:
One bottle of vodka Inexpensive vodka will be fine. You don’t have buy a huge bottle, the standard size is fine.
One 12 oz package of ground coffee Any kind is fine, but don’t use a rare Yirgacheffe or some such, as the subtle flavors will be lost in the alcohol. The percolator grind works best for the Primula, so PERC grind it should be.
Place the inner filter of the Primula in its carafe and fill it with the ground coffee. Perhaps to about a half inch from the top. Pour the vodka slowly through the filter until it is gone, or until you’ve filled the container.
Put the lid on the Primula and set it aside for at least 24 hours, but no longer than 48. After that, pull out the filter and set it aside. Pour your coffee flavored vodka back into the bottle if you wish, or any other container you elect to. If you wish to flavor the vodka with vanilla or any other syrup (like a Torani syrup) start with a teaspoon first and then add to taste.
Make sure you wash out the filter and the Primula, so it’s ready for the next use!
Have fun experimenting! Oh, and now that you have a cold brew maker, try making some cold brew coffee too.
Here are some of my favorite uses for coffee vodka:
Cold-brewed coffee has become popular in the United States in just the past 10 years or so. But it’s not new.. There are many versions of cold coffee all over the world. Thai and Vietnamese iced coffee, and Indian cold coffee. These methods, however, use either hot-brewed coffee (Thai and Vietnamese iced coffee) or instant coffee (Indian cold coffee). The first instances of true cold-brewed coffee, made with cold water, come from Japan.
Kyoto-Style Japanese Coffee
Kyoto-style coffee, which takes its name from Kyoto, Japan, where it’s extremely popular, is the earliest record of cold-brew coffee. The Japanese were brewing coffee this way in the 1600s, but it’s unclear as to any earlier occurrences. Some think that the Japanese may have learned about it from Dutch traders, who might have made cold coffee in order to be able to take it on long ship voyages.
As time has gone by, Kyoto-style brews have become varied and artistic. Rather than submerging coffee grounds for hours, drop by drop brewing through a convoluted glass tower sets the pace. One drop of water seeps through the coffee grounds at a time. It takes just as much time as the long- immersion method does but is really amazing to watch. Some of the Kyoto cold brew towers are works of art. They are also, unfortunately, expensive and unless your goal is to make a brewing experience people might drive hours to see , it is an extravagance not as suited to an American pace of life.
Cold-Brew Comes to the U.S.
Cold brew has come to the U.S. overnight since the 1980’s. (Yes, that was a joke.) Initially, The Toddy Company method was the go-to cold-brew of choice for years. It was easy for busy restaurants and coffee houses to make, the product cut through milk and sugar and contained a lot of caffeine.
What prompted the cold-brew trend? Who knows? Cold brewing requires little manual labor and therefore is practical for coffee shops, cafes and restaurants, and is a creative way to feature coffee. Since coffee has been trending more towards elements of art (ask a barista who made that swan in your cappucino if they think they’re an artist) it could be that as well.
Is hot coffee necessarily the default brew of choice? Well, hot brew’s not going anywhere but evidence points to the fact that coffee’s been enjoyed cold for at least four centuries. We think it’s fine that people are re-discovering this long-established way of enjoying coffee, and we’re excited to see what cold-brew will evolve into as time goes on. You and (if you’re one of our restaurant accounts) your customers might be excited about it as well.
Friday, June 23 is Take Your Dog to Work Day! Then again, for a few of us here at Thanksgiving Coffee Company, everyday is take your dog to work day. Meet two of our office pups, Zoe and Brutus!
Zoe was adopted from the Border Collie Rescue of Northern California. These guys serve most of Northern California, re-homing animals that need new situations and families that will take care of them. Zoe’s mom is Patty, from our accounting team. Patty has been a part of the Thanksgiving Coffee family for 28 years, and Zoe for 8 of those years!
Brutus is a newer addition to our office. Co-founder and CEO Paul Katzeff adopted Brutus from the Mendocino Coast Humane Society just two months ago! He’s already adjusted nicely to life at our headquarters, although we found out he does not like to pose for photo shoots.
Thanksgiving Coffee Company has partnered with the Mendocino Coast Humane Society to create a Cause Coffee that benefits their shelter. This non-profit has been serving Fort Bragg and beyond for over thirty years. We are proud to be a part of their fundraising efforts, and stand with an organization that is doing good for the animals of our community! Learn more on the MCHS Cause Coffee page.
Summer has arrived, and that means it’s time to brew your coffee COLD. In honor of the first week of summer, we’re going to be posting one cold brew article every day for the next week: recipes, brewing methods, brewer reviews and the science behind cold brew.
Check back every day on the Thanksgiving Coffee Blog for more information on cold brew! We’ll continue to update this page with all the new items being added.
What is Cold Brew
Cold Brew is very simply explained, because the entirety of its explanation is in the name: it’s simply coffee that has been brewed with cold water, instead of hot. While your typical french press or pour over method uses boiling water, the cold brew method simply requires water at room temperature.
There are many methods of brewing your coffee cold, and that’s something we’ll discuss a little more as the week goes on.
Why Drink Cold Brew Coffee
Why!? It’s hot outside. But there are a lot of other reasons to drink cold brew too: caffeine content, acidity levels and versatility in uses. We’ll continue to explore each of these options in the coming days, right here on the Thanksgiving Coffee Blog. Keep checking back for more information!
This weekend is the 24th annual Sierra Nevada World Music Festival, and it’s one of the Mendocino County events that is not to be missed. As you’re driving to and from the festival and need a coffee fix, here are a couple places to stop by and grab a cup of Thanksgiving Coffee!
Did you know that our Upsetter Espresso Blend is a reference to one of our favorite reggae artists? Lee “Scratch” Perry will be performing at Sierra Nevada this year. The label design on our Upsetter (a light roast espresso blend) is a reference to his label: Upsetter Records. Can’t wait to see him perform this weekend!
Have fun at Sierra Nevada… maybe we’ll see you out there!
For the Birds is a blog series from Thanksgiving Coffee Company, highlighting one of the 200 Neotropical migratory birds who rely on shade grown coffee during their winter migration. In January, we featured the Cedar Waxwing, in February, the Magnolia Warbler, March was the Blackburnian Warbler, and to celebrate the re-release of our Song Bird Decaf, we are featuring the Altamira Oriole!
Song Bird Decaf Medium Roast Coffee
The striking orange and black plumage of the Altamira Oriole (icterus gularis) graces the label of our newly re-released Song Bird Coffee Decaf, and with good reason. This delicious Smithsonian Migratory Bird Certified coffee is decaffeinated with a clean, all-natural mountain water process in the Chiapas region of southern Mexico, home of the Altamira Oriole.
The Altamira is a large oriole and builder of the longest nest of any bird in North America. In the United States their range is limited to the Rio Grande Valley of southern most Texas, but their nests are a common sight throughout Mexico and Central America.
The female bird uses the inner bark of trees, retama leaves, various grasses, and occasionally Spanish moss and plastic twine to create one of nature’s architectural marvels. Over the course of several weeks, she painstakingly weaves a two-foot long basket that hangs over an open space, road, or river, suspending her fragile eggs thirty feet above the ground.
While many species of birds specialize in hiding their nests from the eyes of predators, the Altamira Oriole takes a different approach by building a home that is wildly conspicuous, but impossible to reach.
All of Thanksgiving’s organically certified coffees are shade grown, and a select few carry the Bird Friendly gold seal of the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center. This certification ensures that tropical “agroforests” are preserved and migratory birds can find a healthy haven to eat and rest as they travel the hundreds of miles from your backyard to the coffee farms producing the beans you so enjoy every morning.
You don’t need binoculars to find a coffee that protects forests, helps wildlife and supports the efforts of the American Birding Association; just look for the Songbird Coffee with the Altamira Oriole on the front.