How We Choose The Coffee We Roast

Deciding which coffee we purchase and add to our collection is very important to us. We have to choose coffee which is extremely tasty, the right quality, the right price and offers a good deal to the farmers who grew it.

We work with several partners ranging from ethical importers to direct farms. Each has their own nuances, and each country produces its best crop at different times of the year.

We have our own ‘cupping’ lab in the roastery. Cupping is the name given to the process of tasting coffees. It is a repeatable and done in a way to allow the tasting of many coffees and comparing them together.

coffee cupping lab

Step 1 – Choose the coffee we want to sample
As each coffee producing region comes into season, and new crops arrive, we check our suppliers stock for coffee which fits our requirements – Tasty, Juicy & High Quality! We can see key aspects of the coffee such as the variety, how it has been processed, where it has been grown and initial tasting notes. Sometimes we may had had the coffee from the last harvest, and just can’t wait for the new crop!

Step 2 – Roast and prepare coffee for tasting
We receive samples of coffee in its raw form – the green seed of the coffee cherry. We use a small digital coffee roaster, which is controlled by an app, to roast a 50g sample. We roast all the samples we receive to the same recipe. While this may not give us the best representation of what each different coffee holds, it does allow us to quickly compare one coffee to another. Sometimes, this can be as close as 4 different coffees from the same country, region, farm, and grower, just a different area of the farm or picked on a different day!

Ikawa green coffee sample roast 

Step 3 – Taste the coffee

In our coffee tasting cupping session, we take 10g of coffee, and pour over 170g of hot water and leave it to brew for 4 minutes. We then stir the top, skim any coffee oil, and leave it to cool for 12 minutes. We then taste all the coffees at 12 minutes brewing, 20 mins brewing and 30 mins brewing. Tasting the coffee at different temperatures give us a real feel for how the coffee behaves when roasted. This is all done using a scale a timer – we want the dilution and perceived strength of each coffee we are tasting to be the same, and comparable to every other time we taste coffee! We also don’t see which coffee is which, called a blind cupping, until the end to remove any bias!

coffee cupping setup

Step 4 – Roast the coffee for our customers

When we sample roast our coffee, we use a standard ‘recipe’ to roast every coffee for consistency. However, when it comes to producing coffee for our customers, each coffee has a recipe which is unique. Some coffee needs to be roasted for longer, some a little shorter, some with higher heat and some slightly cooler. We will try different variations, taste and decide. Once we have unlocked the best the coffee has to give, we lock in our recipe and measure against it on every future roast we do. By doing this, and tasting a sample from each roast, we guarantee consistency, and take another step in our movement against mediocre coffee!

When you see one of our coffees, you now know it may have been one among many we have tasted, choosing this one to be the best!


Featured Coffee

View all