Step 1 - The Source
Coffee "beans" are actually the seeds of the coffee cherry produced on shrubs. Starting with high quality cherries is critical, and perhaps the most commonly overlooked factor.
The best coffees call for precise growing conditions: high elevation, shade from sun, protection against insects and blight, and sufficient rain fall. After the harvest, the processing of the coffee cherries is also of key importance. How the seeds are removed and processed will have dramatic effects on its flavor, whether it be Natural, Honey, or Full Washed.
Arabica coffee is capable of exhibiting a range of flavors from fruit & earth, to citrus & chocolate. The highest tier of Arabica coffee is called 'Specialty Grade'. All of the coffees we deal with are specialty grade.
Step 2 - The Roast
Unroasted coffee is unrecognizable compared to its roasted counterpart, and exhibits flavors/aromas of grass,hay & ocean water. In order to activate the inherent flavors within, coffee has to be roasted.
Roasting coffee involves a myriad of chemical reactions, including caramelization and the Maillard Reaction. Both processes involve the breakdown of acids into sugars to form flavors. A good roaster must know the science and perform the art, to maintain the quality and consistency of each batch.
Well roasted coffee should be a shade of brown, but never black. If not sufficiently developed, when brewed it will produce a shockingly astringent beverage with no depth of flavor or sweetness. If over-roasted it produces a harsh drink, both bitter and with no pleasing acidity. Specialty coffees are generally roasted in small batches to preserve their freshness and unique flavors.
Step 3 - The Brew
Sourcing the finest coffee and expertly roasting can go for naught if the brewing is not done correctly. There are two basic brewing concepts: Drip and Full immersion.
'Drip' means percolation- the water is allowed to flow around the particles and through the bed of ground coffee, as in pour-over brewing.
'Full Immersion' means maceration- the ground coffee is soaked (or steeped) in the water, as in french press or clever dripper brewing.
Brew time and grind size will absolutely effect the brewing parameters and taste of the beverage. It comes down to experimentation, and finding your perfect recipe. Enjoying coffee is entirely subjective, however there are definite sciences and patterns involved in accurate and consistent flavor extraction.