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From Justin

A few weeks ago, while in NYC, Emily and I stopped by Stumptown Coffee at 29th and Broadway to see what all the coffee-crazed hubbub was all about.  After all, Stumptown has quickly become an industry leader in specialty coffee since it opened its doors in 1999, which is pretty amazing.  Needless to say, I was in coffee euphoria as we talked with their lead barista and shared our vision with her for what we are doing here in Cincy.  She was uber supportive, gave us some free cold-brewed iced coffee and suggested I try a bag of their Guatemalan coffee.  I did want t pick up a coffee I could brew and compare to something I was offering, and I'm so glad I took her up on the Guatemala purchase.
The next morning I opened the bag and began to inspect the coffee.  I noticed that they roasted it pretty light, definitely before the bean enters what roasters call "second crack" which happens around 431 degrees fahrenheit.  It was somewhere between a city+ roast and a full city roast, which is definitely lighter than how I had been roasting my Guatemalan Huehuetenengo.  The coffee had such a fun and floral scent to it - seriously.  So, I ground some up and enjoyed it immensely.  Then I got to thinking... "I wonder how my Guatemalan would do if I tried to follow their roast curve?"  Well, there was only one way to find out, so, when we got back from NYC last week I threw a pound into the roaster and tried to get as close to their roast as I could. 
The result?  I think it's a definite improvement in the sense that it brings out some more of the nuances in the coffee. The more a coffee enters second crack and is roasted beyond that 430 degree point, the less of its original character remains and the more it begins to take on the flavor of the roast itself.  I had been roasting it to about 440 degrees (medium dark) which was producing a great tasting coffee.  But I think I actually like it better a little lighter, which was so fun to discover! 
For me, this experiment represents one of the most interesting things about roasting coffee: the same coffee will taste different (even dramatically different) when roasted to two, three or even four different temperatures.  And, proverbially speaking, understanding and applying this insight in a way that brings each coffee to its peak of flavor and character is what separates the men from the boys. 
Stumptown, you are valiant coffee roasting men; I salute you for your incessant drive to produce the highest quality coffee.  By the grace of God, I endeavor to learn your secrets and join you!
All that said, try the new Guatemala while it lasts.  I think we're down to about 40 pounds - yikes!  That will be gone before August is out!


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