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Extracting the perfect brew for each roast

Coffee extraction is the most sought-after quantifiable parameter when defining brew recipes. Grind size, density, water temperature, pressure, turbulence, water quality and chemical makeup, and brew ratio among others, all have an effect on a perfectly extracted shot or brewed coffee. However, before a barista considers these variables, there’s an important factor to consider: the roast level.

All things considered, a darker roast is easier to extract than a lighter roast. Darker roasts are more porous and generally give up their soluble compounds more easily. If a lighter roast and a darker roast are brewed at the same brew ratio with other consistent parameters, a barista will generally find a higher-extraction yield from the darker roasted coffee.

Unfortunately, the person who roasts the coffee - the roaster - is usually not the person who dials-in the brew recipe - the barista. Operating in different areas, it is difficult for roasters to have a timely exchange with baristas on solubility, extraction, roast curves and brew recipes. Instead, a typical exchange can look something like this.

The roaster

A roaster will use roast curve comparison and a wealth of other parameters to create a recipe that makes a well-developed roast at a given roast level - from light to dark. The sensorial quality control usually happens through cupping the coffee. A legit, standardized way to ensure that the roast underlines the coffee’s natural best.

Once happy with the profile, a roaster will often use brewing equipment in a QC lab or the cafe at the roastery to create a rudimentary brewing recipe based on roast degree, density, and other factors. This base recipe is then handed over to a (head) barista.

The (head) barista

...in reality, then often dials-in the coffee at the cafe and refines the recipe there. The base recipe serves as a starting point, but the actual facts about the way the coffee is roasted are generally not available to baristas. That turns roast dependent changes to the brew recipe into guesswork and a lot of trial and error.
Weeks and even days after dial-in, any given roast batch will begin to stale, and darker roasts do so more quickly than lighter roasts. The barista will again have to make recipe alterations based on the roast information they don’t have at hand.

The roaster, in turn, does not have visibility of how the roast is eventually being brewed. Does the barista have difficulties dialing it in? How does the roast behave over time? Are there any significant differences brewing the coffee on different equipment, with different water specs? As the coffee off-gasses after roasting, how does the brew recipe change and where is the “sweet spot” for days off roast? Should the profile be altered when the green coffee ages to keep the brews vibrant? Also, when a profile is changed, how can they ensure the barista gets to this information again?

There are two experts in their field that can both help optimize extraction of coffee, but they lack insights into the other world in order to support each other.

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Connecting the extraction stakeholders

Harmonizing the information exchange and converting anecdotes between roaster and barista into facts requires two things. 
First, you need detailed data both about the roast and also about the brewing process. 
Second, the roaster and the head barista need to be able to access both data sets. 

Only if they are in sync about what they talk about, can they improve the brew and/or the roasting for the benefit of a well-extracted coffee.

Cropster Cafe has been built with cafes in mind that are connected to a roasting business. Recipes and brews that baristas and cafe managers create with Cropster Cafe tie directly to the roast batch used. As a logical add-on to Cropster Roast* Cropster Cafe allows retailers to access down-to-the-detail roast information from any brew they make. Cropster Cafe allows roasters to access detailed information about how their coffee performs over time in a retail environment.

*Businesses that don’t roast with Cropster can also use Cropster Cafe as a stand-alone solution. Instead of Cropster roast batch numbers, they can reference their own batch IDs to allow a barista to look up the information of the roast they use and apply all the barista benefits discussed below.

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The Brew Compare report tells baristas but also roasters how well a given coffee extracts in which location

 

How does the barista use this? 

Each brew can be tied to a roast batch number. For Cropster Roast users, that is the PR-XXXX number that links directly to the roast curve (e.g. duration, end temperature and roast level), roast parameters (e.g. color, development phases, weight loss), green coffee lot information (e.g. density, moisture, etc.) and cupping results. Based on the roast date, Cropster Cafe will automatically display “days off roast” to show the freshness of the coffee and how it ages as it is being brewed. An important parameter for baristas to watch out for to keep brews vibrant throughout the lifecycle of a roast batch.

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For baristas, getting from any brew to the roast profile is only one click away

This gives baristas (and others involved in creating and updating brew recipes) fact-based insights into the roast that is used and any roast relevant variable that will influence the recipe and dial-in process.

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How does the roaster benefit?

Roasters will see how the coffee that they roasted is being brewed. It gives them feedback on how baristas apply their knowledge and expertise to the coffees and brew recipes. Roasters can see when baristas update recipes and have indications of when they struggle with a given coffee. All valuable information that helps roasters keep the customer side in mind when creating roast profiles, crafting consistency, and designing production quality constant to meet customer needs.

With Cropster Cafe, the latest brew reference, including TDS and extraction yield appears on the Roast Compare report alongside all the other roast relevant parameters. Extraction yield, TDS, and brew recipe give roasters some correlation about the solubility of a given roast batch. Flavor descriptors from reference brews complement cupping information on one single screen and prove if and how the beverage matches the original potential of the coffee - perhaps even improving on the original analysis. The days off roast signal the age of the batch in use and give insights into coffee consumption, production planning, and helps identify how many days off roast a coffee needs to rest before attaining optimal flavor.

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The Roast Compare view highlights how this roast batch is being brewed, how it tastes as a beverage and how well it extracts

A benefit of this approach is that the two departments- roasting and brewing - will grow together based on facts. They will better understand one another, their workflows, and results. Their conversations will be easier, faster, and more well-informed. Cropster Cafe takes the guesswork out of conversations between roaster and barista!

Most importantly, the coffee benefits from being ideally extracted throughout its roasting and brewing lifecycle. That means happier customers that return for another great cup of coffee day after day.

Curious how Cropster Cafe can work for your business?


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