New to FBCR? Here's a guide to my roasting style

The most common question I get at the market is "where do you get your beans?" That is a pretty easy question to answer. I get them from an importer in Houston who works directly with the farmers and cooperatives around the world.

The second most common question, though is far more difficult to answer. "What is your best coffee?" I sample roast over 100 coffees a year to pick the few that I offer. Of course, I love all my coffees, each for their unique qualities but I believe the underlying question really is, "what is the coffee I will like the best." That is the question I would like to approach in this post.

I would describe my roasting style as 3rd-wave for the Houston suburbs. I focus on classic coffee flavors like citrus, chocolate, and caramel. I know plenty of awesome roasters who refuse to go beyond a medium roast. And I understand why. A careless dark roast can make even the greatest coffees taste run-of-the-mill. The darker a coffee is roasted, the more the origin flavor is lost. (In other words, all coffees taste about the same in the very dark roast profile, whereas there can be night-and-day differences in lighter roasts.) There are many coffees that I will not roast dark, simply because they lose too much of their original charm. But I also understand that a bright and fruity light roasted coffee may be shocking, and possibly outright revolting, to someone who has only had dark, bittersweet coffee. It's a bit like picking up a can of Coke that is filled with Sprite. The can may look the same, but it is going to be a rather surprising first sip. So, I do offer those awesomely bright and aromatically complex light roasts, but I also offer many coffees in the medium-dark and dark range that I think are equally as exciting.  And yes, it is a difficult decision to pick beans for my darker roasts, as I do have to deliberately neglect some of the nuances in a bean that only appear in the lighter realm. That said, I do believe in offering the full range of roast options.

All this to say, the ideal Fort Bend roast should be at once both exciting and familiar. Nothing exemplifies that more than my two medium-dark blends; Marty's Blend and Fulshear's Finest Blend. They both display classic flavors of caramel and chocolate with a bittersweet base and a hint of smokiness. So, this is almost always the coffee I suggest to newcomers (assuming I have any left at my booth). These coffees also nicely display my main focus in roasting, which is natural sweetness. Marty's Blend has a lingering caramel sweetness (Fulshear's Finest is more chocolate focused in its sweetness). I calibrate my roast profiles to promote and enhance this natural sweetness as much as possible regardless of if they are light or dark. I love the acidity in my Kenya: Nguvu because its brightness highlights the natural cane sugar sweetness. I also love my dark Mexico: Chiapas Jacinto because its smokey, bittersweet character brings out its rich chocolate sweetness.

So, say you take my advice and try Marty's Blend or Fulshear's Finest Blend. Where do you go next? Well, I think that all depends on what you thought of the original coffee. Was it too dark and strong? Go to a medium roast such as my Brazil: Serra do Salitre or Belle's Blend. Was it a little too mild for your taste. Go for Mexico: Chiapas Jacinto or Indonesia: Sulawesi. Did you love the sweetness in the blend and want more? Try Guatemala: Finca Valparaiso or Colombia: Huila. Want to try a bit more brightness with some great aromatics? Go for Colombia: El Diviso or Ethiopia: Yirgacheffe.

I really want to offer something for everyone. What is your favorite in our lineup, and why do you like it? We would love to hear from you.

Bryan Hibbard1 Comment