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19 North Roast
8 February 2013


Measuring Have you tried the 19 North roast yet?  If not, stop reading now before you miss your opportunity.  Go back to the first post and read about what in the heck is going on with this experimental Kona coffee cupping.  Then read the second post to learn how to do a coffee cupping.  Finally, after inviting over all your friends to see if they can tell one coffee from another, read this post to see what actually went into the bag.

The 19 North roast was created by Eric and Casey, an enthusiastic couple that is currently living and working on the farm.  Not only do they happily tackle every farm job they can, they are also eager to learn all they can about Kona coffee.  When they had the chance to develop their own roast profile, they jumped at the opportunity.  The result is 19 North.

Cupping The roasting was performed at Makahiki Farms, owned by good friends and fellow Kona coffee farmers Jonathan and Nancy.  They have a fancy Diedrich roaster that can roast smaller batches of coffee.  They've developed some special roast profiles of their own and also offer Roast to Order service.  Sometimes Nancy can spend hours at a time working at her roaster.

When not busy on Kona Earth farm, or enticing me to go surfing with them, Eric and Casey have been helping Jonathan and Nancy at their farm.   They've been doing various farm tasks and were also lucky enough to get some time operating the roaster.  Nancy showed them how to operate the roaster then after plenty of practice, they were allowed to operate it on their own.  After even more practice, they were granted the opportunity to try developing their own roast profile.  Not many interns earn such an honor but Eric and Casey aren't exactly typical interns.

Roasting coffee isn't as simple as turning on the oven and sticking in the brownies.  Some roast profiles can be that simple while others can be much more complex.  Every coffee is slightly different and therefore requires a slightly different roasting technique.  It's often said that roasting can be the fastest way to ruin your coffee if you're not careful.

Roasting the beans too slowly will caused a flat, baked flavor that isn't particularly enjoyable.  Roasting the beans up too quickly can damage the beans by creating tiny steam pockets that cause blowouts.   When almost done, the beans need to be checked constantly because the beans can go from under-roasted to over-roasted in a matter of seconds.  Bean size, moisture, consistency and quality can all affect how the beans will roast.  It takes some experience to get it all right.

We were recently at Hula Daddy, another Kona coffee farm, cupping several different coffees.  Eric was talking with their roaster and visiting cupper.  They were discussing starting temperatures, drop temperatures, fan speeds, flame heights and a variety of other technical details.  It was obvious that Eric had learned a lot and already knew what he was talking about.

Knowing is one thing, practicing is another.  Back at Makahiki Farms, they were kind enough to let him experiment with some coffee that was going to be discarded.  Roasting bad coffee is extra challenging because the beans roast so uneven.  Eric managed to pull it off though.  That made some of their Facebook friends, the ones fast enough to send money for shipping, very happy.

Scroll over image to adjust the roasting computer.
That's when Casey and Eric asked if they could try out a special roast with Kona Earth coffee.  As I mentioned, roasting is the fastest way to ruin coffee and with Kona coffee at the highest price ever, I was reluctant to give up my best coffee.  So we compromised and they roasted up some Prime.

Prime is a lower grade coffee.  Here at Kona Earth we get very little prime because our trees tend to produce larger beans.  Out of several thousand pounds of coffee, only a hundred or so are prime.  I normally save the prime for the large wholesale roasters that don't want to pay for the more expensive grades.  This year though, I don't have enough Prime available for them.  So it was sitting in the storage room, waiting for someone to find it.  Kind of like Charlie Brown's little Christmas tree.

As you probably noticed if you tried the 19 North roast, Prime can be excellent coffee.  It usually has some visual defects but, when roasted properly, it can cup well.  It's common to take prime to a very dark roast to help hide any defects that might exist.  That was not the case with the 19 North coffee.  It was a small enough batch that the really bad beans could be sorted out by hand.  Everything else went into the roaster.

Looking at the top picture, the close-up of the roasted beans, you can see that the roast level varies slightly from one bean to the next.  This is the primary reason that the higher grades are sought after.  A peaberry coffee usually has a very consistent bean size which makes it easier to get a very consistent roast.  When the beans aren't a consistent size, some will roast slightly faster while others will roast slightly slower.  It's difficult to know exactly when such a batch is at its peak.  For the 19 North roast, I think Eric did an excellent job of hitting that sweet spot exactly.

Hopefully you tried cupping the coffee yourself before reading this.   If so, did you guess correctly?  If not, give it a try anyways.  Have a friend label the cups randomly so even though you know what you're looking for, you won't know which cup it is in.  It's a great way to learn a new skill.  With a little practice, you can go to your local coffee shop and tell them a thing or two about the coffee they're serving.


19 North

19 North

What exactly is this coffee?  Here are some hints:
  • It is 100% Kona Earth coffee
  • It is a medium-dark (aka full-city) roast
  • It is yummy
Invite some friends over for a coffee cupping event and evaluate the coffee yourself.  Then check back here for the complete desciption of this special 19 North roast.  You can order a single bag of 19 North or save $5 and order a full Evaluation Bundle for the complete cupping experience.

19 North Roast, Half pound $18  
19 North Roast, One pound $35  
Save $5   Three-bag Evaluation Bundle   $54  

Shop for more Kona Earth coffee.

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