My Roasting Philosophy

My philosophy is unique in that it is based on a long café career followed by a shorter roasting career. As a café owner, I know intrinsically what my customers like and do not like. Most customers like medium and dark roasts. As for single origins, they have preferences based on an idea of what that origin is, such as earthy for Sumatra and fruity for Ethiopia. About 10% of my clientele are serious coffee enthusiasts and want to learn about origin, terroir, preparation and the best hands-on way to make coffee.

As such, I try to tailor flavors to these profiles. When buying coffee, I buy to make the blends taste chocolatey with great acidity and body. I think about how each origin will taste in the seasonal blend. And I aim for fun tastes for the single origins. But regardless of the type of coffee, I aim for price transparency and fairness to the farmer.

It just takes one trip to an origin country to understand the importance of fair prices. Luckily, I have had the privilege of taking numerous trips to coffee origin countries. After seeing the farmers strive to utilize every bit of land AND reuse the sweet sugar water leftover from washing coffee cherry by turning it into biofuel, AND conserve water and electricity and gas, I realized that coffee producers have very little leverage with regards to capital and resources. They have thin margins, little cash flow, and are dependent on mother nature for their livelihoods.

So, that was where I started philosophically to craft the basic tenets of Cloud City Coffee Roasting:

  1. Pay a fair price either directly or through justice-minded importers who genuinely care about the farmer.
  2. Search for coffee gems, but flavor and relationships go hand in hand.
  3. Rareness does not equal fairness. Buy all types of coffee based on relationships and flavor and roast it well so that it tastes the best it can for what it is.
  4. Wherever possible, buy women producers first. As a woman-owned business, I recognize the importance of women helping women. After visiting origin, it became apparent that women reinvest their profits into families, other sources of income, and their community in general.
  5. Offer a variety of flavors each season to please a variety of customers: earthy, low acid, high acid, fruity, tea-like, chocolate, caramel. Not only does this please many customers’ palates, but it is also simply more fun.
  6. Meet the coffee where it is and do not eschew a region because it does not taste one certain way: Sumatran coffees can taste earthy, high altitude coffees taste better at a lighter roast, chocolatey coffees benefit from a little more development to develop sweetness and body.