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Matching beans to your favorite roast level
One of the most popular misconceptions in coffee consumerism is that all coffees are candidates for all roast levels. In other words, people will say, "Oh, I like dark roasts" and want to have every coffee presented to them in dark roast. Why is this wrong? Because every coffee bean origin has optimal "sweet spots" and roast levels that are NOT optimal. In fact, some coffees can be really "incomplete" at one roast level and astounding at another.
Case in point: Our newest coffee bean, the Nicaragua Matagalpa Catimor. Catimor is an usual and somewhat rare species to find being cultivated as a single origin coffee today. Its genes are shared between an Arabica and Robusta heritage. As a result it is highly resistant to diseases that plague full Arabicas.
When we first evaluated this coffee we just could not find a dark roast point that we felt good about. The Catimor was astoundingly fragrant and full-bodied in light roasts, but the darker it got, the more it seemed to lose... and here is the important thing - it didn't gain anything to compensate. In the case of our wide-spectrum beans like Brazil Adrano, which has at least 3 optimal roast points, light roast elements of fruitiness are lost but butter and caramel tones emerge. In the Catimor, the elements necessary to produce rich dark roast tones seem to be lacking.
Then we tried this coffee in a super-light blonde roast, and found amazing things: A lower acidity than most Arabicas have, but many pleasant citrus elements and very high body. We compared it to a light roast from George Howell coffee and found the Catimor to be 4x less acidic, and the citrus acidity was less sour, and more refreshing. George's Kenyan we compared it to was so acidic that tasters likened it to lemon juice when we prepared an espresso shot from it. But the Catimor in espresso yielded a very pleasant lemon zest flavor note that did not overpower the taste profile.
The result of this experiment was placing our new "Limoncello Roast" Catimor on our roasted coffee website. We like to call it the Blonde Roast without the Blonde Faults. It is astoundingly smooth, full of body and sweet brown sugar and lemon notes in iced coffee, particularly in Cold Brew.
If you are interested in cold-brewing coffee that is a light roast, do yourself a favor and start with the Nicaragua Catimor.
If you are looking for coffees to play with in dark roasts, look more for a high butter-and-caramel note coffee like the Brazil Adrano or the Costa Rica Nectar. These coffees yield different, fruitier profiles in lighter roasts, but in the dark roasts they bring forth a powerful aroma of warm notes and lingering, delicious caramel tones.