What exactly does shade-grown mean?
Shade-grown can actually mean a number of things, including spreading tarp-like materials over coffee plants in production. However, Redbud Roasters buys coffee beans that is one of three kinds of shade-grown: a) Rustic, b) Traditional Polycultural, or c) Specialized Shade.
Rustic means coffee is grown in the rainforest with little alteration of native plants. Traditional polycultural means that deliberate integration of plants are used for maximum benefit. Specialized Shade means that a single series of trees is used. In our case, it's the Inga Edulis tree, which is very beneficial to birds, which in turn is beneficial to the coffee plants.
Shade is very important to the coffee beans that come out of Central and South America. When coffee plants were originally brought over, they withered in the sun. For beans from these geographical locations, it's important for the rainforests as well as the coffee drinker to have shade-grown coffee.
How long does the roast last?
The peak flavor of the roast occurs from about 4 hours after the beans are roasted, up to two weeks after. The coffee will probably still taste delicious after two weeks, but will not be at its peak any longer.
How should I store coffee after purchase?
Coffee should be stored at room temperature in a paper bag or a sealed metal, ceramic or glass container. Plastic is not recommended. Refrigerating coffee is never recommended. You can, however, store it in the freezer from the time it is roasted until the time you start pulling out beans, at which point, transfer it to a dry, cool location. Heat, light, air, and moisture are the things that can negatively affect your coffee beans.
When should it be ground?
The beans should be ground right before brewing. Ground coffee loses its flavor much faster than whole beans.
Which is better - light, medium or dark roast?
Dark roast has been popularized by large coffee companies. In large operations there are so many beans that it is hard to guarantee a delicious fruit. They roast all the beans dark to take away the individual nuances of flavor between the beans - leaving high quality beans tasting the same as low quality beans. High quality coffee with a dark roast is very delicious - this style can be found in the cafés of France and Italy. Light roasts expose the flavor of the bean - altered by the soil, climate and geography in which it is grown. When freshly roasted, light roasts from a small company like Redbud Roasters can be the most gratifying coffee experience.
What is the difference between the roasts?
Light roast allows one to taste the complexity of the bean. This is best when freshly roasted. The taste is lively because of higher acidity. There is more caffeine in the light roast as more is released the further the bean is cooked.
Light/Medium roast is in between a light and medium roast, which makes it smooth with a bitter kick. It brightens up the beans and gives a very delicious taste.
Medium roast are also known as a breakfast blend and is darker in color than a light roast. They are sweeter, with more body. They lose some of the green bean's characteristics yet, this roast is not smokey.
Espresso roast, or Vienna roast, is the first stage in dark roasts. It is where the body becomes even heavier as the sugars start to caramelize. The acidity is gone, leaving a bitter-sweetness.
Dark roast, or French roast, is black in color with the oils released from the beans, leaving them shiny. The roast flavor is the only one present with a smokey and light bodied bitter-sweetness.
To see a visual of the full spectrum from green bean to charred visit Sweet Maria's website: http://www.sweetmarias.com/roasting-VisualGuideV2.php