Factors Affecting Flavor Profile

From a seed in the ground to a flowering plant to harvesting, processing, packaging, shipping, roasting, and brewing, it’s a long journey for a coffee bean between from farm to cup. Each of the many steps in this complex process can have a radical effect on the way the final cup of coffee tastes, but for the sake of simplicity, you can zoom out and put each of those many steps into several (admittedly broad) categories: origin, roasting, and brewing.

We’ve already addressed many of the ways that a coffee’s origin can affect its taste, through processing, altitude, and climate, in previous blogs, so in this post, we’ll preview our future discussions about roasting and brewing, and give a little context to the conversation regarding flavor.

The best way to think about a coffee bean’s trip from farm to cup (in regards to the coffee’s flavor) is to imagine a funnel. At the top of the funnel is the “origin" category, where a coffee’s varietal, the country it comes from, and the way it’s processed all imbue it with a certain flavor profile. This is all the flavor a coffee will ever have, and as we travel down the funnel to roasting and brewing, the goal is to maintain and accentuate as much of that original flavor as is possible. Once any flavor is lost in one step of the process, it can’t be gotten back in the next (which can be an intimidating prospect for the coffee roaster and barista!). So, an ideal funnel in this metaphor wouldn’t look much like a funnel at all, where the slope was essentially zero, and all the flavor is preserved throughout the entire process.

Preserving that flavor is no easy task, though, and as a coffee is roasted and brewed, the roaster and barista often have to make certain decisions about which flavors to highlight or preserve, and which ones to put in the backseat. It’s these decisions that we’ll be talking about in future blog posts, so be sure to stay up to date on the latest posts by the Roastery, where we seek to help you develop your love and further your knowledge of coffee!