“Nothing is more salubrious […] than such drink,
especially when the grapes were well chosen and prepared.”
A few weeks ago we happened to come across a little book entitled “Handbook of the Perfect Coffee Lover” that appeared in Naples. Contained in it are stories, tales and recipes from an 1836 original.
A quick read that made us think about how our coffee habits have changed… yet sometimes we think that, coffee as we know it today, has always existed as it is.
This small handbook lists a number of concepts to help the lover of the black drink extract the perfect cup. Let’s be clear, very useful suggestions for nineteenth-century readers.
But are we really sure that these councils are now obsolete and outdated?
We at Ernani are not at all. In fact, as we continued reading, we increasingly found ourselves in those ways.
To be clearer, we have decided to quote the most significant passages here.
“Nothing demands more attention than the roasting of coffee. […] If coffee is not roasted enough it loses its quality, and if on the contrary it was too much, it becomes sour, bland, and of an unpleasant burnt taste.”
Nothing could be more true! Roasting, or the roasting of coffee, is a very delicate process that requires of many cares.
The roaster can choose from 3 main shades of roast: light, medium and dark. In the former case the coffee will be strongly acidic and aromatic, but with almost no body and creaminess in the cup; on the contrary, if it is dark, the creaminess will be maximum, but so will the bitterness. In this case, the coffee aromas, both positive and negative, would be hidden by the strong bitter and burnt taste.
The medium roast, on the other hand, is the one that manages to combine the positive parts of the previous two: in fact, in the cup we will have both body and cream and intense aromas, enhanced by the roasting process.
Why, if medium roasting seems the winning choice, is it not adopted by all producers?
Because it is also a more expensive choice, as it can only be performed if the raw material is of high quality and therefore without defects. Many people therefore decide to opt for a lower quality raw material, with a significantly lower cost, but one that has flaws. It will then conceal them with the dark roastiness and bitterness that follows.
“It is not necessary to put sugar in it, while it holds no bitterness, and for the opposite feels of a moderate and tasty sweetness.”
We strongly believe in this step. Of course starting to drink coffee without sugar is difficult, because it means giving up a well-established habit. Moreover, too often it happens that we drink bad and excessively bitter coffees, which necessarily require the sugar packet.
Medium roast coffees, as we mentioned, are less bitter and more fragrant. This makes them suitable for our purpose: to eliminate sugar.
As many as two improvements can be achieved in this case. In fact, your health will definitely benefit, but you will also discover incredible aromas in every cup of this drink that you never even thought existed.
“Each one demands a different degree of color to be toasted exactly to its point.”
This is now called single-origin roasting, performed by roasters who make quality their mantra.
To understand this better, an example we always propose is: would you ever throw penne, spaghetti and farfalle together at the same time in boiling water and drain them at the same time? Assolutamente no! You would otherwise get a pasta dish that is partly raw, in other places overcooked.
The exact same principle applies to coffee, as each variety of coffee has its own specific size and characteristics, hence its own specific “cooking” times. For this reason, roasting must be done separately for each individual origin.
Some roasters, especially those with larger sales volumes, however, decide to create their blends while the coffees are still raw and roast everything. In this way, larger volumes can be toasted in a shorter time frame, but quality can be sacrificed.
So we asked ourselves: is what we propose, namely medium roasting, really a novelty?
This is hard to admit, but no, it is not new. As we have seen, it is the same technique used since the nineteenth century.
The “novelty,” if you can call it that, lies in repurposing it, in reinterpreting our tradition and treasuring it, in order to offer a coffee where the aromas take center stage and the quality can be felt from the first taste.