Quality vs quantity: the secret to a good cup of coffee

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latte artCoffee aficionados have long been exclaiming the merits of one cup over another…but what really makes the difference? Dan Burgess from Island Roasted explains.

Simply put, it’s quality vs. quantity. Coffee quality is split into several different grades: ‘Gourmet and Speciality’ coffee beans are at the top and are mainly used by artisan roasters. These top quality beans are generally from small producers and single estates where they are better looked after and where quality control measures are more strictly adhered to. Plus there’s the added benefit that many are naturally organic as a lot of these farmers can’t afford pesticides.

Small estates provide batches grown at the same or similar altitudes. This is important because the altitude affects the density of the bean, which in turn affects how it roasts – a more dense bean needs more heat so a batch of beans from the same altitude are going to roast more evenly. The tighter quality controls mean they’re processed more carefully, and importantly, graded for size too so that they roast at the same rate avoiding burnt or under roasted beans in the batch tainting the flavour. Our El Salvador Monte Sion Estate is a fine example of one of these coffees, truly self-sustainable, as they achieve a higher price due to the care they put into producing a great crop.

As these coffees are generally only available in smaller quantities they are more expensive, so they aren’t really of interest to large scale producers such as the big chains due to the sheer volume of coffee beans they need to buy and the margin driven nature of their business which favours profit over quality.

Island Roasted coffee is available through our retail outlet, Caffe Isola and our wholesale company The I.O.W Espresso Co.