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Our roastery is the mechanical heart of 23 Degrees Roastery. It is also the tool of our passion and is where the coffee roasting magic happens.
 At our roaster, we apply our artisanal roasting craft to our two roasters, Bessie and Big Bertha. This is also where we cup each batch of our coffee products to ensure that it has the right flavour profile.
 If you’re interested in learning more about our roasting or cupping process, feel free to get in touch with us. We are more than happy to show you around if you want a tour of the roastery.

All About the Bean

Coffee Bean Sourcing

A coffee bean has a colourful history even before it is ground for your morning brew. Unlike the more intensely caffeinated Robusta bean, Arabica beans are cultivated at high altitudes in various countries around the world. After planting, it takes five to seven years before the plant reaches maturity and starts producing its coveted coffee cherries.
 The cherries are ideally picked at the peak of their ripeness when they sport a deep red color. These then go through a variety of methods to remove the fleshy outer portion and leave behind the coffee bean.
 Not every cherry that is collected is perfect. Some may be too green or too ripe, and some may have been damaged by local coffee cherry-loving insects. After collection, these flawed cherries are painstakingly picked out through different methods, while the rest move on to the depulping stage.
 The beans are then dried and further categorized according to desirable characteristics such as density, size, color, and shape. Just like kids in school, these beans are graded. The crème de la crème of the bunch is known as specialty grade. These are the beans you’ll find in our roastery.

Poor-Quality Coffee Picks

Defective beans—or the baddies of the bunch—are more than just unsightly. They can impart a bad flavour to a good batch of roasted coffee.
 To ensure a superior final product, specialty grade coffee is checked several times so that imperfect beans, along with sticks, stones, leaves, and other contaminants, are kept to a minimum. Beans on the hit list include:

Single-Origin Coffee

Single-origin is a term that refers to coffees that are not blended, but rather come from a solitary geographic locale. The different conditions of soil, sunshine, and rain can impart very unique flavours to coffee beans. These then add to the flavours brought out during the processing stage.
 Various types of coffee can have different characteristics based on the growing conditions of that year, although their basic nature remains constant. Depending on where your beans come from, it’s even possible to catch a hint of blueberries in your cup of coffee.
 At 23 Degrees Roastery, we carry several single-origin coffee products and roast them to maximize their distinctive flavours. We offer these to you so you can explore a variety of tastes.

Roasting

While the first step of great coffee is finding the right beans, the roast is what brings out its best flavours. Since various beans come from different regions of the world, these demand different roasting profiles that suit their natural characteristics without ruining their delicate flavours. 
 If you’ve ever held green coffee beans, you know that they’re hard as rock and have a slightly grassy smell. When these are heated to the right temperature, the sugars inside the bean start to undergo a cooking process.
 Moisture in the beans start to vaporize, and the escaping gas causes a very characteristic popping noise known as the first crack. Roasting the beans further causes the sugars to caramelize and eventually, the bean’s structure begins to break down. This is known as second crack, at which point, flavours begin to disappear, and the bean may take on an ashy flavour.
 On a sliding scale, beans should be roasted past first crack and halted somewhere before the second crack to maximize its flavour and body. This process has to be empirically tested for each bean from each region. The test must also be done constantly since the characteristics of the green coffee bean may change from season to season. Not as easy as it sounds, right?
 Given these variables, we strive to maintain the best profiles for all our beans through constant testing and quality control. Because coffee has such a great and natural flavour, we enhance its taste through our roast profiles. We ensure that our beans are never roasted to the point where they are black and shiny.

The Origin of Coffee

Legend has it that coffee was discovered in the hills of Ethiopia. A goat herder noticed that his normally obedient goats would not respond to the whistle blast with which he would usually summon them.
 Curious, he sought them out, only to find them frolicking and playing with great energy and abandon. The goat herder saw that they had been eating leaves and reddish berries from a particular plant.
 Encouraged by his goats’ liveliness, and given the fact that they didn’t die overnight, the herder partook in the berries as well. He felt the stimulating and invigorating effects of caffeine that we enjoy today. From this point on, coffee consumption began.
 While this is a quaint story, its veracity remains debatable. Several points remain true: goats will eat anything; Ethiopia is acknowledged as the birthplace of coffee; and an estimated 2.25 billion cups of coffee are consumed per day to date. Now, those sure are fascinating facts.
 

The Evolution of Coffee

If you’ve ever been to an Ethiopian restaurant and ordered a coffee, it would have been very sweet, thick, and black. Traditional ceremonies of serving and drinking coffee also include frankincense and myrrh, which mingles with the aroma of the hot coffee.
 Of course, this isn’t the way that the average North American has their cuppa joe. Over the years, different methods of extraction have been invented. Each of these can highlight different aspects of a specific type of coffee and its roast.
The extraction process truly becomes a matter of individual taste. Whatever method you prefer, you must remember to: 

  • Use clean equipment
  • Use freshly roasted coffee (wink wink)
  • Use the right grind

We recommend using two tablespoons of coffee grounds per six ounces of water, but feel free to adjust this according to your taste. For the best results, drink your coffee immediately, and do not reheat it.

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The Proper Brewing Methods

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Just How the Turkish Does It

The Turkish method is a bit of a misnomer because of its popularity throughout the Middle East and Mediterranean regions of the world. This entails the use of a small, specially shaped pot with a long handle called an ibrik or cezve, the finest grind of coffee available, and sometimes the addition of spices such as cardamom.
 The pulverized coffee is boiled in sugared water until it foams. At this point, it is removed from the heat, stirred, and then placed back on the heat.
This process is repeated several times, and then the thick, sweet drink is decanted into small cups. The grinds are then allowed to settle before drinking. This brew sounds like the original energy drink.

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Through an Old-Fashioned Percolator

Using the percolator for brewing coffee is a method that belongs to poodle skirts and saddle shoes. This method involves recycling coffee inside the pot, which often leads to a bitter brew.
 Water in the lower part of the pot is heated, and the steam pressure causes it to shoot up to the top of the pot through a pipe.
 The hot water then trickles down through a basket of coffee that rings the pipe. The liquid then heads back to the bottom of the pot, where it is heated and shot up once more.

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Using a Handy French Press

The French press, which was ironically called the Italian press in France, is considered by many to be the best method of coffee brewing. This produces a stronger-bodied, better- balanced, and earthier brew than other methods.
The water is mixed directly with coarse grounds, which are sieved away to the bottom of the pot by a metal mesh. However, the extracted oils and tiny solids aren’t filtered away before consumption.
This brew is a bit brawnier than those made using other methods, but it delivers a great coffee experience. Using the French press is our preferred method.

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Easy-Peasy Pour Over

This is probably the easiest coffee brewing method in this terrestrial realm and beyond. Medium-fine coffee is scooped into a cone filter that rests in a funnel. Hot water is then poured over the grounds and allowed to drip through to a vessel underneath.
Some improvements to this methodology include grooves in the funnel. This distributes the water through the grounds more evenly. Better filter weaves, such as for the Chemex filter, are also used to optimize the brew time.

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Contemporary Auto Drip

Using an auto drip is the most common method of coffee brewing. The auto drip pumps heated water over coffee grounds sitting in a paper or metal filter, and gravity causes the water and extracted goods to drip down into a receptacle.
One of the biggest problems you might encounter with an auto drip is its inability to heat water to the correct brewing temperature. This is often overlooked because the machine also offers the convenience of automatic timers, quick cleanup, and large capacity. Auto drip coffee makers are now a standard household appliance and a staple of university student dorms.

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With a Flashy Vacuum Pot

This appliance may look like an illegal drug production apparatus, but it delivers an extremely clean cup of coffee. Similar to the percolator, the machine forces water into an upper chamber, but the liquid does not trickle back down to be reheated. Instead, heated water mixes with the grounds in the upper chamber.
 When removed from the heat source, the cooled bottom creates a vacuum that draws the coffee through a filter. This leaves the grounds in the top chamber and the drinkable coffee at the bottom.

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The Signature Espresso Fashion

Most people assume that espresso is a type of bean or level of roast, but it is essentially a brewing technique. Espresso literally means “express” since it is generated and served quickly.
 Espresso is also the essence of coffee. Fine grounds are pressurized then heated water is forced through them to extract the oils and solids that make up coffee. This is then concentrated into a very small volume. This method can be done with a stovetop espresso pot or an espresso machine.
 No matter how you make it, espresso can take nuances in a coffee and turn them into prominent notes. This is why some coffees may not be typically pleasing when brewed in this manner.

Espresso-Based Beverages

Espresso is both the bane and the pride of the barista because it can be so difficult to make the perfect shot. Pressurized and heated water is forced through very finely ground coffee, and the resulting syrupy emulsion is collected.
 It may sound simple, but several factors must be controlled to achieve a good result. Temperature, grind setting, pressure, length of extraction time, and how tightly the grinds are packed all affect the process.
 The espresso machine plays a big part in this brewing method, but the person drawing the shot is also responsible for its quality. When the process is done correctly, it is a thing of beauty. The shot is syrupy and intense, and it is also coated with a rust-coloured, thick, foamy crema.
 As previously mentioned, espresso is a very concentrated form of coffee that can accentuate certain tones and flavours. For this reason, it has become the base of several coffee beverages and is often served with skilfully poured milk, also known as latte art.

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The Testing and Analysis of Coffee

This Smells Awesome!

What do you enjoy the most out of a cup of coffee? Is it the aroma as you grind it or the fragrance of the brewed cup? Maybe it’s the deep flavours while you drink it or the pleasant aftertaste. All of these aspects make up the whole coffee experience, and it is important that beans are roasted in a way that maximizes each of these features.
 This is where the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) comes in. The SCAA is an organization founded in 1982 that is dedicated to specialty coffee. Its members include roasters, importers, exporters, and manufacturers of coffee-related equipment. Together, its members strive to standardize certain aspects of the coffee industry, allowing individuals with varying tastes and preferences to have a reference for evaluating coffee.
 

Cupping

Cupping is “coffee talk” for the process used to evaluate aspects of coffee that we love, such as aroma, flavour, body, and aftertaste. Factors like water temperature, water quality, the ratio of coffee grounds to water, and brewing time can change the flavour of the coffee. Because of this, you must control these variables depending on the type of beans.
 Cupping can be rigid or laidback, depending on the individuals involved in the process. The SCAA definitely lies on the rigid side of the spectrum.
 According to SCAA protocols in 2009, the environment for cupping should be well lit, quiet, and clean, with no interfering aromas. The space must be at a comfortable temperature and should have limited distractions such as cellphones. Cupping tables must also be present. Aside from these, we recommend wearing comfortable underwear and shoes.
You begin the coffee cupping process by smelling the dry coffee grounds. A specified amount of coarsely ground coffee is then placed in a cup, and water that is heated just below the boiling point is poured over it.
The coffee is allowed to steep for three to five minutes, after which the “crust” that forms at the top is broken with a spoon. At the same time, the cupper must inhale deeply to catch that first waft of the aroma floating up from the cup.
Following this, the grounds are stirred, and floating grounds are scooped out. At this point, cuppers finally taste the coffee. A spoonful of coffee is taken and vigorously slurped so that it is “vaporized” within the mouth. The coffee is then judged by the cupper and then unceremoniously spat out.
What exactly do cuppers look for in coffee? They evaluate the coffee’s acidity, flavour, aftertaste, body, balance, sweetness, and cleanliness.
 At 23 Degrees Roastery, we cup our coffees regularly. We do this to ensure that our roasting methods and our blends provide the best profile and perfect balance for each of our coffees.

The Kinds of Coffee Available

Blended Coffees

While single-origin coffees boast of unique flavours, a single bean may not carry all the qualities we look for in an ideal coffee. For example, a very bright or fruity coffee may need to be balanced out with an earthier tasting bean.
 Our signature blends of coffee are roasted, blended, and tasted to ensure its balance and provide you with an all-around, great-tasting cup. But this isn’t Brave New World, and we want our brews to have their own personalities as well.

Organic Coffee

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These days, organic produce and goods are enjoying wider popularity. This growing movement is in response to peoples’ increased awareness of health benefits, ecological sustainability, and support of local commerce.

When you walk through your local supermarket, the growing organic section is quite noticeable. The number of farmers’ markets specializing in organic produce is also on the rise.
 Organically grown coffee is cultivated without the use of dangerous pesticides or synthetic fertilizers that could augment or protect the crop. Most often, they are grown in the shades of trees that protect the shorter coffee plants. This keeps them at their preferred growth temperature and also maintains bird habitats.
 However, one setback is that coffee matures slower under these conditions and costs more for the farmer and the buyer. This explains the premium price that organic goods garner on the shelf.
 Given the increased cost, how can you be sure that you are paying for a genuinely organic product? Then, the government gets into the picture. Any product that is to be retailed as organic must pass investigation and adhere to strict national standards.
 In Canada, these are set by the Canadian Organic Regime (COR). The United States, on the other hand, follows standards set by the National Organic Program. These rules and regulations are then enforced by third-party organizations.
 Any deviation results in products being recalled, and its organic status will be revoked. For more information, visit www.ocpro.ca.

The Fair Trade Coffee

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If you’ve ever delved into the history of coffee, particularly of South or Central America, a saddening trend emerges. With the rise of coffee’s value as a commodity, many countries pushed to increase their production, with immigrants enslaving the indigenous people or importing African slaves to work the farms.
 This blatant imbalance of power and wealth incited rebellions, led to the unlawful appropriation of the natives’ land and caused environmental damage. Unfortunately, to this day, coffee farmers still suffer from exploitation.
 To change this status quo, fair trade practices have been implemented. This means that coffee farmers get a guaranteed price for their coffee. Should the value of their crops rise, farmers also see an increase in prices. 
These returns help improve working conditions and provide the means and infrastructure for educating farmers and their families. Aside from these, fair trade standards promote better and more sustainable farming practices.
 23 Degrees Roastery only purchases fair trade coffee and is accountable to Fairtrade Canada. We keep an open book policy with full transparency and regular audits. This ensures that we can enjoy our coffee while we improve the lives of the people who produce it. For more information, go to fairtrade.ca.