Certainly one of the most challenging things when it comes to coffee is to endeavour to cater for as wide as possible for all coffee palates.
Raw coffee beans are dense, green seeds consisting of about one-half carbohydrate in various forms and one-half a mixture of water, proteins, lipids, acids, and alkaloids.
When roasting, is probably like golf, there are a whole range of things that needs to happen to hit that perfect shot, but when you go through the motions to hit that perfect shot there is no time to think about everything you need to do right. You just have rely on what you have practiced and the rest will follow instinctively.
Roasters do not need to know much about green coffee’s chemistry to roast a delicious coffee, but it is exciting to know whilst the roast is in progress something beautiful is happening with the bean and you just have to rely on your equipment and your senses to drop a perfect batch.
For now I just want to highlight the sugars in the bean, dominated by sucrose, make up 6% to 9% of a bean’s dry weight (specifically referring to the genus Coffea species arabica only). This provides sweetness in the cup. Sucrose also contributes to development of acidity, as caramelisation of sucrose during roasting yields acetic acid. You obviously need acidity as it gives coffee its liveliness, delicacy, complexity, and brightness.
Many coffee drinkers assume that acidity makes coffee bitter or unpleasant, coffee without acid is flat and boring.
Back to the sweetness of coffee. Nowadays it’s a sales pitch to state that coffee perfectly roasted and prepared has no need for sugar to be added. In a sense it is true, but coffee has natural sugar and you need to understand some of the chemistry to make any sense of it. I am a huge advocate of drinking coffee in its most purest form without anything added. Just add water! Blue Bottle Coffee in the US even have coffee shops with no milk or sugar. Heaven!
Up to approximately 171 degrees Celsius caramelisation begins as the heat of roasting breaks apart molecules of sugar and produces hundreds of new compounds, including, smaller, bitter, sour, and aromatic molecules and larger, brown flavorless molecules. Although most people associate the word “caramel” with very sweet dessert food, caramelisation, ironically, decreases the sweetness and increases the bitterness of a food or beverage. Lighter roasts are sweeter, and darker roasts more bitter and caramelly, primarily because of caramelisation.
At Clock Peaks Coffee our aim is to produce a well balanced roasted coffee where you can truly say, just add water please, thank you!
Recipe: Coconut Coffee Cake
Coconut and coffee are natural partners, as these little squares of iced cake display perfectly. They are light and airy and will prove very difficult to resist.
45ml / 3 tbsp ground coffee
75ml / 5 tbsp near-boiling milk
25g / 2 tbsp caster (superfine) sugar
175g / 2/3 cup golden (corn oil) syrup
75g / 6 tbsp butter
40g / 1/2 cup desiccated coconut
175g plain (all purpose) flour
2,5ml bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
2 eggs lightly beaten
For the icing
115g / 8 tbsp butter, softened
225g / 2 cups icing (confectioners’) sugar, sifted
25g shredded or flaked coconut, toasted
- Preheat oven to 160 degrees Celsius (Gas 3). Grease and line the base of a 20cm square tin (pan).
- Put the ground coffee in a small bowl and pour the hot milk over.
- Leave to infuse for 4 minutes, then strain. Heat sugar, golden syrup, butter and desiccated coconut in a pan, stirring until completely melted.
- Sift the flour and baking soda together and stir into the mixture, along with the eggs and 45 ml of the coffee flavoured milk.
- Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin pan and level to the top. Bake for 40-50 minutes.
- Cool the cake in the tin pan for 10 minutes, then run a knife around the pan to loosen. Turn out and cool on a wine rack.
- To make the icing, beat the butter with the icing sugar and remaining coffee milk to give a soft consistency. Spread over the top of the cake and decorate with toasted coconut.
- Cut into 5cm squares to serve. Enjoy!