At Isolation Coffee, we like to keep things simple. We only roast and sell coffee that we love to drink. There are a few different points along the way where we’ve fine-tuned our quality so that every time you brew a cup of Isolation Coffee you can feel confident that it will lead to a moment of arabica bliss.
Multiple factors go into creating a quality cup of coffee, but it all starts with the farmers. Coffee is most easily grown in the coffee belt- a band around earth’s equator that stretches from the Tropic of Capricorn to the Tropic of Cancer. Within this belt are three main coffee-growing regions- Latin America, Africa, and Southeast Asia. Each of these regions and their unique environmental factors imparts different characteristic flavor profiles. One can typically expect a Latin American coffee to lean towards the citrus, stone fruit, and dark chocolate, African coffees are well known for their sweet fruity, and floral notes, while, Southeast Asian beans have a unique earthy spice to them. These different flavor profiles are created by a multitude of environmental factors including but not limited to growing conditions, elevation, subspecies of coffee, and local soil.
One of the most common questions people have about coffee revolves around the “Organic” tag. It’s pretty rare to find coffee that is certified organic for a variety of reasons - mainly because many coffee farms are small family farms and can’t afford the lengthy and expensive certification process to label their coffees as organic. Though very few coffees in the world are certified organic, a majority of coffee is grown on organic, or pesticide-free farms. In other words, certified organic is typically reserved for large coffee farms or corporate-owned farms, while our coffees are naturally grown by small local farms around the world.
There are several ways that farmers process coffee cherries to produce the green beans we use for roasting. The most common are dry process and wet process. Dry process, sometimes called natural process, is a method of processing in which the beans are dried in the fruit, allowing the natural sugars of the coffee cherry to ferment and interact with the bean. After the drying process, the hulls are removed. Wet process, in contrast, involves removing all of the fruit from the bean before fermenting and drying the beans. Wet process coffees tend to produce more clarity and vibrant notes whereas dry processed beans tend to contain more complex, fruity, and fermented notes. It’s also worth noting that another step in processing coffee is decaffeination - we like roasting and drinking coffee decaffeinated using the Sugarcane Process (ethyl acetate, EA), this process keeps many of the natural flavors of the coffee while still removing 94% of the caffeine. We only roast decaf beans that have been processed using the sugarcane method.
Green beans are roasted and sampled (also known as “cupped”) and graded before being sent to distributors. At Isolation Coffee we source green beans from all regions of the coffee belt with a minimum SCAA (Specialty Coffee Association of America) score of 84. Meaning all of our coffee beans are graded as excellent to outstanding using a standardized scale.
Roasting can make or break an excellent crop of green coffee, but it can’t make a bad crop taste good! How a bean is roasted either accentuates the natural flavor profiles contained within the green bean or washes them out towards a more bland roast-centric flavor profile. Roasting is a delicate process that must be tailored to each bean in order to effectively bring out the maximum flavor potential. We spend time dialing in the roast profile for each bean to create the best cup possible, rather than focusing on roast level (light, medium, or dark), we focus on optimizing the flavor of each bean by dialing in each roast recipe. You’ll notice our options only include origin, and that’s because we work hard to ensure that each green coffee we source is roasted to its optimal potential.
In order to dial in each bean like this, we use a small batch roaster; roasting about 1kg per batch, and checking for quality along the way. Because we roast in such small batches, we’re able to ensure that any necessary adjustments are made to keep all of our beans consistently excellent. Roasting in small batches also allows us to eliminate waste - we roast to order, making sure to fulfill each week’s orders without letting any coffee go to waste.
We have a variety of favorite brewing methods among the team at Isolation Coffee, namely drip and immersion. Since we favor methods such as AeroPress, Clever Dripper, and automated brewers like the Behmor and the Moccamaster, our roasts are tailored to these methods. Brewing great coffee starts with the grinder, though, which is why we only use high-quality burr grinders and we grind immediately before brewing.
Brayden - Master Roaster