Because my life revolves around coffee every day, it often seems as if I am on the front lines of a battle for what roast is right. Everyone has a very different and very strong opinion on the subject, each with their own die-hard proof of righteousness. But in truth, most of us are wrong. The whole issue is drowned in misconceptions. Dark roasts are bitter, light roasts are acidic, one roast has more caffeine than the other. We use “facts” to back up our own position, dividing coffee lovers into endlessly different high school like cliques. But for the sake of this blog, I am dividing us in two.
On opposing sides of this battle are light roast lovers vs. dark, often coinciding with age. The younger generations fight for light roasts while the older generations cling to the dark side. Why is that?
For decades we were roasting for the masses. With similar dark roast profiles dictating the flavors in your cup, we made a universal cup-o-joe. The very average and familiar “coffee flavor” became available across the board and we comfortably settled into this for years. But the average cup-o-joe has changed. With the onslaught of independent roasters and coffee shops on every corner, the flavors in your cup are anything but average. In fact they are striving for the opposite. The tattooed, hole-e younger generation strives to be different in an ever evolving and competitive world of coffee. To be average would be the end of every independent coffee shop out there. Because of this ongoing vortex driven by the new and different, younger generations of coffee drinkers are demanding more complex and often lighter roasts. This change in coffee trends has put us in opposition to each other.
If age and coffee wasn’t enough to separate us, years of childish arguments are. Light roast crusaders preach the wave of tomorrow, offering bright, fruity, citrusy, and complex flavors while they cling to the position that dark means bitter, dull, muted, and astringent. The avengers of the dark roasted nation that once ruled supreme, spit in the face of the acidic, grassy, floral coffee of the future while promising the reward of rich dark chocolate, caramel, and full bodied coffee that they have always loved. As we perpetuate our unwavering positions, we continue to stand still without exploring new perspectives. The battle for what roast is better continues while both sides refuse to remove their heads from the sand and take a moment to question their own argument.
In this man’s humble opinion, wake up and smell the coffee. Let’s explore the experience that coffee can be. With every roaster’s goal to provide us with a product that will be enjoyed, let’s give each cup a chance before we ask “What roast is this?” Modern roasting has become a blend of art and science as we continue to improve the coffee that we have all learned to love. There are fantastic coffees across the roasting spectrum. Try to be open minded while you take a sip and enjoy the adventure that a good (or bad) coffee can provide. I for one, intend to bridge the gap between young and old, light and dark as I enjoy every cup I try by drinking it for the experience. This approach will unite us all in the quest for great coffee.