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Stumptown Coffee – The Art of Roasting

Portland-based third-wave coffee revolutionary, Stumptown Coffee, truly treats roasting coffee as an art. With roasteries in Seattle, Brooklyn and Portland, they’ve shown coffee connoisseurs around the U.S. exactly what they’ve been missing. Stumptown Coffee was first brought to the city of Boston by Thinking Cup, which currently has 3 locations in the city. Curious as to what goes into roasting Stumptown’s exceptional coffee?

First the coffee is scooped into a bucket on a scale so that the amount of coffee being roasted is known. It is then poured into the loader, which is a new machine. The other machines used by Stumptown Coffee roasteries are vintage machines that have been refurbished.

The machine must be warmed up prior to being used to avoid hot or color spots. A vacuum is initiated, which moved the coffee and warms it to the appropriate temperature for that specific coffee. The flame is adjusted during the roast as well. When the cold beans are introduced to the warmth of the drum they drop the overall temperature, so that must be taken into consideration as well. Additionally, bean density can come into play as well. Those grown at higher altitudes tend to mature more slowly and therefore be less dense, while those at low altitudes are more delicate.

Once the heat has equalized the temperature is brought up to the full temperature desired. Roast logs are kept by Stumptown Coffee to ensure consistent quality. All 3 of Stumptown Coffee’s roasteries keep logs and exchange feedback after sending samples to the company’s head roaster and quality control head in Portland. This ensures consistency not just within each roaster, but across the board.

Roasting can take anywhere from 11 to 15 minutes, depending on the coffee and desired result. Once this step is done, the flame is staged back and the coffee moves on to the “crack” phase. After the crack dies away more heat is applied to achieve the desired finish.

Once this has been completed, the drum is opened up and the contents are poured out onto a cooling tray. The goal is to stop the cooking immediately so that it doesn’t continue past the desired point. A fan cools the batch from below. Once the batch has cooled it is transferred to a de-stoner to prevent any foreign materials (such as stones or twigs) from transferring with the beans on to consumers, since coffee is an agricultural product.

While this is only one part of the journey a bean takes when it travels from farmer to consumer through Stumptown Coffee, it demonstrates how seriously they take the integrity of their end product. If you’ve never had the pleasure of tasting Stumptown Coffee, head to one of Thinking Cup’s 3 Boston locations to enjoy a cup of what has been dubbed some of the best coffee in the U.S.

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