HomeRoast Digest

Topic: To Lighten or Not (8 msgs / 279 lines)
1) From: Mark Tosiello
I have taken the plunge into the roasting world within the fairly recent
past...about 1 month ago, I ordered multiple varieties of greens, a Yama
Vac-Pot, and the newly designed FreshRoast Plus.  I've been reading
everything I can via the Internet on the subject of roasting, have roasted
MANY batches to varying roast stages, and have tried to pick up as many of
the nuances of both roasting and tasting as I can given my brief history in
I have, however, come up with one question I have not seen posted
anywhere--checked the archives--and it is this.  Is "lightening" coffee with
 considered an impairment to detecting the flavor notes
in the varietals?  Is it sort of considered a "no-no"?  I enjoy both
lightened and non-lightened coffee, but cannot tolerate dairy in any form,
so I have a fairly narrow range of options.  I am quite frankly curious
about the feelings of the group, and the coffee community in general, on the
Don't mean to open a can of worms, but I've not seen anything really posted
on the subject.  If you can point me to some discussions, or have one here,
that'd be great.
I am now utterly addicted to freshly roasted varietals, and am working very
hard to develop taste buds worthy of this complex substance!
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2) From: Jim Schulman
Hi Mark,
Welcome to home roasting. I personally have about 
half the coffee I drink with milk, so I'm not 
going to say there's anything wrong with that.
But ...
For tasting coffee, there's nothing quite like 
regular cupping (or, if you have a half dozen 1 
cup pourover filters, that's just as good). You 
can compare 4 to 6 different coffees, and get all 
the flavors in the cup as they go from hot to 
The ritual of it focuses the taste buds. Also, the 
exercise of writing down ones impressions 
strengthens the link between tasting and 
describing, so one isn't struck dumb when tasting 
something new.
So why not cup with a dollop of cream or soy milk? 
These tend to strongly diminish the fruity and 
flowery tastes in coffee, since the milk 
neutralizes the acids that carry them. On the 
other hand, milk can sometimes help resolve an 
anonymous roasty taste into a clearer chocolate, 
malt or other specific flavor.
So I don't judge a coffee until I've cupped it, 
then had it in every possible way I ever drink 
coffee. For instance, I'm tasting my way through a 
pair of Plumas (thanks, OC, write up soon). The 
washed one is a bit light bodied for my taste, 
especially in espresso. But it could have been put 
on this earth for cappucinos, in which it alone 
handily beat the special cappa blend I've been 
working on for months. It would have been 
impossible to know this except by trying it out.
On 4 Jul 2003 at 22:19, Mark Tosiello wrote:

3) From: HeatGunRoast
--- Mark Tosiello  wrote:
 Is "lightening" coffee
I've been roasting for about 5 months, and I have much the same "detecting
flavor" issues--entirely independent of lightening.  I'm finding the taste
learning curve to be fascinating and slow.  So I've relaxed a bit and
tried to quit worrying whether I can detect the blueberry or if I have
wiped out the nutmeg because I've gone an extra few seconds into second
crack.  I initially had a strong preference for darker roast, chocolaty,
full bodied, roasty flavors.  I do believe that the varietal distinctions
require a more mature palate and may be more of an acquired or learned
taste.  Each week, it seems, I have a new sense of "oh, now I see what
they mean!"  (As distinguished from, "What on earth are they talking
Now, to the lightening issue.  On occasion, a bit of lightening almost
"releases" some flavors I hadn't noticed before.  But since roasting my
own, I use only a fraction of what I used previously----usually, none at
all.  When I drink coffee elsewhere, the amount of lightening goes way
up--usually to soften annoying flavors.  
These are just some observations from another near-newbie.  I hope some
others check in with more experienced perspectives and their usual
comforting advice, "If it feels good, drink it."
Do you Yahoo!?
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4) From: jim gundlach
On Friday, July 4, 2003, at 09:19  PM, Mark Tosiello wrote:
If you are interested in comparing notes on taste, the only way to do 
it is without the lightener.  However, if you are interested in 
pleasing you own taste buds, you are free to lighten as you please.   
What you taste is determined by your genetic make-up and your 
experiences.  As such, you are unique.  You will find many suggestions 
on this list of things that the poster feels makes a coffee taste 
better.   When you try them, some will work and others won't.   And 
something that does not work now may well work after your experiences 
include a couple of years with good coffee.  In other words, if you 
like it lightened, drink it lightened.  However, you might try soy or 
even goat's milk to see if they work for you.
Jim Gundlach
roasting over pecan wood fires
in La Place, Alabama

5) From: Mark Tosiello
Hi Jim,
Thanks for the very thoughtful reply!  I've cupped several varieties, and I
do agree that there is nothing like tasting the natural flavors
unadulterated.  That said, I also agree with the fact that it's important to
taste the coffee in all of it's personal iterations before judging it's
place on one's list of favorites.
This is just a superb "avocation"...I've always loved coffee, but roasting
and comparing is a source of great satisfaction for me....
Thanks again!
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6) From: Mark Tosiello
Thanks for the input!  I feel much as you do...I'm a "newbie" to this biz,
but I'm loving it!  I've had the same questions and musings as you
describe...glad I'm not the only one who has said..."How did he detect THAT
flavor?"...or "Nuts, I can't find that in this cup".  However, as you say,
each day brings new discovery!
Thanks again!
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7) From: Bob Yellin
Hi Martin,
Although I've been roasting coffee for many years and have gone through
many of the brewing processes along the way gathering a collection of drip,
vac, espresso, and roasting equipment, I still always feel like a "newbie"
and I'm constantly learning new things about coffee. For example, every
year the same type of coffee I drank the previous year can taste quite
different in the new harvest. Coffee is a constant source of surprise and
I have a personal method for enjoying and sampling the tastes of
unlightened vs. lightened coffee. Often, almost every morning, using any of
the brewing methods, I brew enough for each at the same time and taste
(enjoy) them together. For example I will brew espresso using a double
spout and use one espresso cup and one cappa cup. One goes to a lightened
drink and one gets enjoyed by itself. Or, with any of the other methods,
I'll brew enough for the lightened drink but put some aside to taste
"straight". It's surprising how different taste elements show themselves in
each cup but, most importantly, it's very enjoyable for me when I drink
coffee this way.
I do that in the morning when, it is said, your ability to taste is at it's
optimum. Later in the day it's "unadulterated" espressos or ristrettos.
Anyhow it's a great journey and I'm sure you'll enjoy it and expand in
various ways along the way.
Don't worry about "no-no's". Experts don't know any more than you do when
it comes to your taste. In this group as well as others, the folks openly
discuss nearly every variation of coffee that exists (and invent a few new
ones as well!) The coffee will be delicious if you think it is. Nobody
knows what tastes good to you more than you do. 
Bob Yellin

8) From: Greg Halbrook
At 10:19 PM 7/4/2003 -0400, you wrote:
I've been home roasting for just about 18 months now.  When I first started 
I always used lightening and sugar.  I have just about weaned myself 
off.  I'm down to only 'adulterating' my first cup of the day.  I usually 
will top off that first cup when it gets down to about 1/3 full.  What I 
have personally found is that when drinking that first cup it is just 
coffee and I really can't distinguish it from any other coffee I've 
roasted.  When I top off, some of the flavors start coming through and when 
I finally have my second unadulterated cup I can really distinguish the 
flavors.  I keep my roasted coffee in mason jars that are numbered and 
index the jar numbers on my palm.  Sometimes I don't know what I brewed 
until I look it up.  Most often I can tell what I am drinking on that 
second cup and sometimes when I top it off.  Rarely, if ever, can I tell on 
that first cup.  I only have 4 or 5 varietals roasted at any one time so I 
am guessing from a limited field.  I used to always know what I was going 
to brew but now I kind of like challenging myself.
Plymouth, Mi.

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