We are a little, family run roastery setup in the Westfield area of Woking, Surrey. The roastery was setup by Chris after deciding he wanted to do something different from engineering and playing with roller coasters, so he followed his passion for coffee, built a massive shed, cleared the garage and turned it into the Bell’s Beans Roastery.
Chris has been playing with home roasting for many years on his little Gene Cafe coffee roaster. He loves the science behind roasting along with the unpredictability of every bean being different, having to pay attention to so many variables in the quest to do the bean justice in the long process from the coffee farms to a cup of delicious coffee.
Every step has so many variables that can have a massive impact on the final cup and this is where Chris’ geeky engineering mind loves to get lost in what to do with the next coffee.
We now roast on a 10kg Roastmax drum roaster imported from Australia. Every batch is hand roasted with Chris at the controls, watching, smelling and tracking every roast to bring the best coffee to you. We only use speciality grade coffee with a score of 80+ and only from producers/importers/traders that pay the farmers fairly and help the farmers further their coffee and communities by putting back in.
If you are a small cafe, thinking of starting up a cafe, coffee bar, mobile coffee van then please get in touch, as we’d love to work with some other small businesses getting great coffee out into the world.
Coffee is the second biggest traded commodity in the world, only second to the other black stuff oil. Coffee is traded on the stock exchange and has a “C” price, this c price is what sets the baseline for commodity coffee.
The biggest risk to coffee is farmers not being able to afford to be farmers or to employ people to help on the farms. Coffee farming is very labour intensive with over 90% of all coffee being hand picked and hand sorted as well as having to be transported out of hard to get to area’s to be processed and sold.
Speciality coffee is even more labour intensive, as to gain the title of speciality the coffee not only has to taste amazing but it has to be free from defects and to make both of these happen the best cherry’s have to be hand picked at the right time and then once processed, sized and dried, they are hand picked of visual defects. Speciality coffee does not follow the C price but relies on honest people recognising the quality of the coffee and the effort that has gone into ensuring that quality and then paying for that to make sure that those farms and farmers can carry on producing some of the best coffee in the world.
The SCAA defines specialty coffee in its green stage as coffee that is free of primary defects, has no quakers, is properly sized and dried, presents in the cup free of faults and taints and has distinctive attributes. In practical terms this means that the coffee must be able to pass aspect grading and cupping tests.
First, the role of those in the value chain after the farmer. Do they merely preserve the inherent quality of the coffee, or is their job to enhance or improve on that quality? Increasingly, I think that at every step we are responsible for one or more of the following: the preservation, transformation, or revelation of quality. Thus, roasters may be responsible not only for the preservation of the quality delivered by the farmer, miller and exporter, but they also need to meet their obligation for transforming the quality potential of the green bean to the realization of the roasted version. Similarly, the barista is responsible not only for the preservation of all the quality attributes of the roasted coffee but also for the revelation of those attributes to the consumer. This is not only through the transformation to a beverage in the brewing process, but in the total experience of drinking that beverage in the café environment.
Second, we are faced with the need to assess the sustainability of specialty coffee. That is, even if a coffee results in a great tasting beverage, if it does so at the cost of the dignity, value or well-being of the people and land involved, it cannot truly be a specialty coffee. This concept more than any other may be most fundamental to our assessment of what makes a coffee special, but is perhaps the most challenging to assess empirically. Nonetheless, we must continue to strive not only to understand but to measure all that makes a coffee special.
Published by the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) – June 2009
Speciality coffee is graded and scored by the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) through a network of qualified Q graders. Because of the attention and care that they require, speciality coffees are sold at a premium and bought by roasters or coffee traders directly.
How is it scored?
Green coffee is graded on the basis of visual inspection and cupping after being roasted. Visual inspection involves taking a 350g sample of green coffee beans and counting defective beans; defects can be Primary (e.g. black beans, sour beans) or Secondary (e.g. broken beans). Coffee qualifies as ‘speciality’ when it has zero Primary defects and less than five Secondary defects. Cupping is a process that involves roasting the coffee and simply brewing it by adding hot water to the ground beans; specific scores for each of the attributes such as the coffee’s sweetness, lack of defects, acidity, balance, mouthfeel, and flavour are assigned by certified Q graders.
Scoring is out of 100
65-79 – Commodity coffee that will usually be sold in supermarkets and as instant coffee.
80+ – Speciality coffee that is deemed to be ‘Very Good’ & ‘Excellent’. These coffees have a more balanced flavour through the cup.
90+ – Speciality coffee that is deemed ‘Outstanding’. Coffee this good is exceptionally rare and commands a high price. Less than 1% of coffee produced in the world falls within this range.
Small Batch Roasting
We roast in small batches of 3-8kgs of coffee at a time. The coffee is then stored to “de-gas” this is when CO2 that was produced in the beans as they were roasting escapes. This step is important as a very fresh coffee that hasn’t been aloud to de-gas may taste “toasty” or sour due to the CO2 trapped in it. This is especially true with espresso as this brew method doesn’t allow a “bloom phase” which lets the CO2 escape.
The coffee is then ground and bagged to order.
We also only buy coffee in small batches, maybe only 1 sack at a time, so once the coffee is sold out it is usually sold out until the following year if we can get it again. This keeps the stock fresh and lets you enjoy new coffees through the year.
Understanding Roast Profiling – The Difference between Medium, Medium-Dark and Dark Roasts
One of the most important factors that determine the taste of coffee is the degree to which the coffee beans are roasted. The process of coffee roasting starts with raw, green beans that have little to no taste and transforms them into aromatic and flavourful crunchy coffee beans.
The most common way to determine the roast level of a coffee is by the colour of the roasted beans, ranging from light to dark (or extra dark). As coffee beans absorb heat in the roasting process, their colour becomes darker and oils appear on the surface of the beans at higher temperatures. Once the coffees have dried out from around 12% moisture down to less than 4%, interesting things start happening. First the acids in the coffee begin to develop, and as it gets darker the sugars will develop. The acids then begin to be consumed, with some turning into new sugars. Eventually the sugars begin to caramelise and crisp (known as Maillard reaction, as found in browned toast); and finally, if you go on too long, the fibres will begin to burn.
Preferred roasting levels can vary depending on where you are in the world. Europeans have traditionally favoured dark roasts, which is why a coffee roast may be described as French, Italian or Spanish, as these are particularly dark. Also, In the United States the West Coast tend to prefer darker roasts than those on the East Coast. Australia and New Zealand have moved more to the medium roasted coffee and have pioneered the 3rd Wave coffee culture from roasting to speciality coffee shops serving both espresso based drinks along side pour over and drip style coffees. Some Nordic cultures prefer a very lightly roasted coffee that sometime has barely reached first crack in the roasting process.
At Bell’s Beans we are following the “3rd wave” coffee ethos. That is moving away from the dark roasted, oily coffee beans (2nd wave) and more to a lighter style of roasting. This brings out more of the origin notes, sweetness, acidity of the beans rather than the roasty, bitter, smoky flavour that comes from the darker roasts.
Ultimately why would we buy speciality grade coffee that has been treated and tended to with so much care to make sure its the best it can be, only to roast it and make it all taste the same, completely ignoring the unique flavours of every region, plant variety, farm and processing type.
Medium roasted coffees are medium brown in colour and have no oil on the surfaces, with a balance of flavour, aroma and acidity.
Medium-dark roasts have a richer/darker colour with some oil beginning to show on the surface of the beans. A medium-dark roast has a heavier body in comparison to the medium roast. The flavours and aromas of the roasting process become noticeable, and the taste of the coffee may be somewhat spicy.
Dark roasted beans are dark in colour, like chocolate, and may sometimes be almost black. They will have a sheen of oil on the surface, which is usually evident in the cup when the coffee is brewed. Dark roast coffees will generally have a more bitter and smoky taste.
Caffeine levels at each roast level is a highly debated topic but in general the amount of caffine in each bean does not change through the roasting process, but the bean as a whole gets larger and looses weight. So as the bean is loosing weight but the caffeine weight is staying the same, then it can be said that the % of caffeine of each bean increases.
As each bean once roasted is bigger the darker they are this also means there are more beans for any given dose of coffee, so a 20g dose of dark coffee could contain more caffeine than a 20g dose of lighter coffee. Although this then depends on bean type, age brew style, extraction etc.