The Good the Bad, the Coffee

The Good the Bad, the Coffee - Gregorys Coffee

What makes a coffee good or bad?

Walk around the city's coffee shops or surf coffee websites and you will often see phrases like, “world's best coffee”, “highest quality coffee”, and “we scour the earth to bring you the best coffee”. With all these bold statements you might begin to believe that all coffee is the best. Unfortunately, coffee, like humans, can be flawed. Not only can coffee be flawed but even a good coffee can have their bad parts. It is important to understand this so that our coffees can feel seen and heard so that we can highlight their best selves and help our coffees shine. 

What makes a coffee good or bad? That’s a deep question that only leads to self-examination and eventual judgment… but not today! In the coffee trade, we use a grading system to evaluate green coffee.

Even with these grading systems, I cannot condemn a coffee to be labeled bad… it just has a different role to play. There are plenty of coffees considered not-Specialty providing valuable contributions to blends loved by millions. We have a saying in the coffee biz, “Every coffee has a home”, and I assure you that no coffee goes unused in this world. 

What about those good coffees with bad parts? Good point! Even our high-scoring, overachieving, Specialty grade coffees have their limitations. When we brew we are extracting flavor in the form of fats, proteins, acids, etc. Water is the catalyst that unlocks all this valuable material from the coffee solid. The tricky part is that only about 80% of those soluble flavors are good-tasting flavors. The other 20% are bitter, unpleasant flavors that can crush our beloved brew in a matter of seconds. This is why time and temperature are so critical. 

When water is hot, it extracts more flavor from a coffee in a shorter amount of time. The longer contact time water has with coffee, the more flavor solids are extracted. The more surface area of the ground coffee, the greater and faster the extraction. This is why espresso has the finest grind as it is meant to be extracted in the shortest amount of time. Conversely, cold brew has the most coarse grind as it has the longest extraction time. 

Any good thing can go bad if you turn the heat up and give it enough time. Do your coffee a favor and make sure they don’t play in the water too long. 

This is why we are so precise about our grind size and dose at Gregorys and pay such close attention to our brewing equipment. Our baristas control all the brewing parameters, most importantly they control time. Ultimately our baristas control the fate of our fine coffees. This is a heavy responsibility and yet they carry it so lightly while meeting our customer’s needs. So, the next time you see a barista sweating the details while making your espresso or brewing a fresh batch of coffee, you understand what is at stake.

Jake Leonti, Coffee Guru