I had an affair, a Brazilian affair. With coffee.
Rich and robust, coffee doesn’t ask questions. It understands.
Coffee, long may you run my mornings, help my sleepiness, and get me through my day. To many, there’s more to coffee than just caffeine.
Casa Brasil Coffees
is an Austin-based company that sources, imports and roasts beans exclusively from artisanal growers in Brazil. Joel Shuler, the owner of Casa Brasil, creates outstanding blends from vacuum packed, farm-fresh beans from some of Brasil’s finest growers, imported directly from Casa Brasil and roasted fresh in Austin.
Once the coffee beans are picked and sorted, the beans must be separate from the fruit and dried. Two key processing methods are used: natural, by drying the entire coffee fruit in the sun, and washed, freshly picked coffee fruit are pulped. The green coffee beans (left picture above) are packaged in burlap bags and sent to Casa Brasil in Austin, Texas.
I had the pleasure of visiting Casa Brasil a couple of weeks ago where Joel Shuler gave me a three-hour session on coffee 101.
Let’s start with the roast. The roast of a coffee bean affects the flavor of the coffee. Coffee beans roasted in the roaster for a short time or at a low temperature stay a lighter color, beans kept in the roaster longer or roasted at a higher temperature get darker. A dark roast will have a more bittersweet flavor than a light roast.
Let’s talk coffee.
Packaging is key
Casa Brasil is packaged in a hermetically-sealed bag from GrainPro. Tip: When purchasing coffee at the store, avoid bags that are full of air. The coffee should be air tight and coffee sealed. The knob whisks air out and prevents air from entering. “You should smell the coffee, and the coffee shouldn’t smell you.” – Joel Shuler. All Casa Brasil bags are hand painted with a brush stroke of color, allowed to dry and then stamped with the company logo and information. Image below from Caitlin’s Confections.
Size doesn’t matter
Beans are filtered to ensure they are homogenous in size, producing a consistent roast that maximizes flavor and minimizes bitterness. Lots of commercial roasters are roasting beans of different sizes, along with pieces of the shells. Image below from Caitlin’s Confections.
Grind baby, grind
A burr grinder is best as blade grinders often result in inconsistent particle size. Grind only what you need for each brew, and grind immediately prior to brewing to ensure freshness.
It’s all about the brew
Aside from the finer points in roasting coffee beans, the extraction of coffe flavor form the beans by the way of brewing is the most important aspect of coffee making. A cold brew makes a smoother iced beverage, whereas the manual drip through a Chemex or Melitta filter make a clear, pure, flavorful coffee without bitterness or sediment. The French press, my favorite, exhibits a coffee with strong character and substance.