Coffee & Roasting

This page tells you about our coffee and our roasting techniques.  It gives you a lot more in-depth information about our coffees than you’ll find on our coffee bags.  Or if you’ve never bought Red Rooster Coffee it can help you decide what coffees you want to try.

Here in Ireland we find that lots of folks really pour the milk to their coffee.  So while all of our coffee, we think, is great to drink black, they’ve all been roasted and blended to “hold the milk”.  So you milk and cream users will get the lighter, creamier taste you’re looking for and the full coffee flavour will still come through giving you the best of both worlds.

(You’ll find us mentioning ‘double roasted’ and even ‘triple roasted’ coffee in the descriptions below.  To understand exactly what we’re talking about scroll to the bottom of this page for a definition of terms.)

Bantam’s Brew

BantamsBrewThis is our interpretation of the world’s oldest coffee blend: Mocha-Java.  Evidently you folks like it as we have a tough time keeping it in stock!

Mocha and Java are two locations, not two different coffees. So Mocha, or Al Mukha, is a port on the Red Sea in Yemen where a long time ago most Yemeni and Ethiopian coffee was shipped from.  That isn’t the case anymore but the name Mocha has continued with the blend.  For the Mocha component of Bantam’s Brew we use Ethiopian coffee beans from the Yirga Cheffe and Sidamo areas, roasting and blending them to bring out all the subtle flavours we can.

Java is an island in Indonesia where a lot of coffee used to be grown.  Then way back, about 150 years ago the coffee plants on Java were ruined by a ‘coffee rust’ disease and Java switched to growing tea but like Mocha, the name stuck even though most Indonesian coffee now comes from the island of Sumatra.  Maybe it was a good thing that Sumatra took over from Java because the coffees from Sumatra are fantastic.  We favour the beautiful, full bodied, earthy coffee that is grown in the Lintong area near Lake Toba.  My favourite thing to do is to go out to the roastery in the morning and open up a freshly roasted bin of this coffee.  A strong, sweet honey and jasmine aroma wafts up to reward my nose.  It is heaven!

So we double or triple roast the beans (see more about this at the bottom of this page) we’ve chosen for this blend and then mix them together in just the right proportions and we all have joy in our cup.

Barnyard Boogie

Historians tell us that the original coffee plants were found in Ethiopia.  Maybe that is why this coffee tastes soBarnyardBoogie good.  It can make a truly fantabulous cup.  Possibly all those thousands of years of development that haven’t taken place in newer coffee growing areas has just packed so much taste into the Ethiopian bean that the other, newer coffees, just aren’t mature enough to equal.

Barnyard Boogie is The Roast Mistresses favourite and that fact alone should compel you to go out and buy 15 or 20 bags.  We import the best Ethiopian we can (the same we use in Bantam’s Brew), the lots with the best cupping scores, and give it our double roast and in some cases our triple roast treatment and voila!, you’re drinking an outstanding cup of coffee.

We find all kinds of tastes in this coffee.  You can go from floral to fruity and citrusy and then on to berry and caramel and chocolate and honeysuckle.  It is just a dream cup.  As we say on the bag, it will make you dance!


Farmer’s Friend

FarmersFriendWe call this our ‘all day blend’ because it is one of those all day drinking coffees.  Not too bold, not to much acidity, just a smooth, mild cup.  But unlike a lot of smooth and mild cups, this coffee has character!

We start with a good foundation of high mountain grown Colombian coffee and then add in some of the aforementioned–to die for!–Ethiopian coffee and then top that off with a special Kenyan coffee that is absolutely outstanding.

As an aside I’ll tell you that the Kenyan coffee beans are really expensive.  Our cost for green beans per kilo is in the double digits!  If we were selling the Kenyan by itself as a single origin it would break the bank.  So we put just the right amount of this smashing coffee in with the Colombian and Ethiopian and it is a marriage made in heaven.

Each bean plays off the other’s strengths to combine into a harmonious whole, a chorus of togetherness.

I know, you’re saying to yourself that I’m way over the top with that last sentence, but we did get a four page hand-written letter from a Red Rooster coffee lover extolling the virtures of Farmer’s Friend.  So since no one on earth has received a hand-written letter in the last five years, much less a four page letter, I think I’m standing on pretty firm ground when I make this statement! 🙂


Buzz Bomb

This is our ‘you’ll never sleep again’ blend.

We’ve mixed in a healthy dose of rich and earthy Sumatra Lintong coffee with a big dollop of Indian Robusta coffee.BuzzBomb

“Robusta?”, you ask.  “Isn’t that the type of coffee that is so crammed with caffeine that if I drank a cup my feet might not ever touch the ground again!?!  And isn’t Robusta harsh tasting?”  Yes, you are correct on both counts.

Robusta has about twice the caffeine content of Arabica coffee so it really helps you to get your buzz on.  And drinking a straight cup of Robusta is definitely a significant taste departure from a cup of Arabica.

But with Buzz Bomb you’re not drinking a full cup of Robusta, you’re drinking predominantly Arabica with a specific amount (that’s our secret, okay) of Robusta blended in to enhance the flavour.  Also the Robusta we use is from India, not Vietnam–the world’s largest Robusta producer.  And this particular Indian Robusta is considered by many to be the world’s best tasting, smoothest Robusta.  In fact, while Buzz Bomb is power packed, it is a surprisingly smooth cup of coffee.  It’ll put a smile on your face.

So premium Sumatra Lintong plus premium Indian Robusta equals a cup you can enjoy anytime.  Be cautious though.  One devoted fan said, “I wouldn’t drink it before bed time.”  But hey, everyone’s different and who knows, it may just become your favourite postprandial (I’ve been waiting years to use that word in a sentence!) drink.


Loco Leghorn

LocoLeghornThe Colombian Coffee Board and their fictional frontman Juan Valdez did a bang-up job of  positioning Colombian coffee in people’s minds as a superior cup.  And frankly, it is.  And as consumers have gotten more and more taste conscious about the black brew they are drinking, Colombian farmers have worked ever harder to live up to those taste expectations.

So for you Colombian coffee lovers out there we’ve sourced a special high mountain grown coffee from the Bucaramanga region of Colombia.  We’ve compared it against many other Colombian coffees, some much more expensive, yet we find that our particular Bucaramanga consistently makes a superior cup when compared with the others.

I’d like to think that the premium beans we’ve chosen are only a part of the story because only Red Rooster Coffee has the secret weapon — The Lovely & Talented Roast Mistress — doing the roasting!

So here she double roasts the beans, one batch lightly roasted and one roasted medium to bring out the particular flavours that go into making a classic Colombian roast.  This is our son’s favourite coffee, his hands down winner!  One of our testimonial writers ranks it as her numero uno, describing the coffee as smooth and full bodied with a lingering aftertaste that is nice and clean.


Double & Triple Roasting

So what do we mean when we say double roast and triple roast?  Well every coffee bean is different.  Some are high grown in the mountains, others are grown closer to sea level, and others are grown somewhere in-between.  Some are grown in shady conditions, others in full sun, and still others are grown half-and-half.  Soil conditions vary too.  Some soil is volcanic, some rocky, some loamy, some full of clay.  Some soil drains well and others don’t.  The variables go on and on.

So what we do is roast each bean to a particular level.  For the sake of conversation we’ll call it Light / Medium / Dark although there are a lot of variations in between like Light-Medium or Extra Dark, etc.

The coffee tastes different at each roast level.  The lighter roasts tend to bring out lighter flavours like floral and fruity flavours whereas the darker roasts tend to bring out darker flavours like caramel and chocolate.  So we determine the flavours we want to put the spotlight on and which flavours are most complementary to one another and we roast to that intended outcome.

Loco Leghorn for instance is double roasted.  One light roast and one medium roast.  We’ve found that a dark roast with this particular bean doesn’t yield the classic Colombian coffee profile.  Add to that fact that The Lovely & Talented Roast Mistress can coax a lot of flavours out of the bean that the “speed roasters” can’t.  She’ll roast a batch for 20+ minutes when a factory roaster will roast the same bean for only 7 minutes.

So that’s it.  Double roasted is the same bean roasted to two differnt levels.  Triple roasted, likewise, is the same bean roasted to three different levels.  When you drink Farmer’s Friend, a blend of three different coffee beans (Colombia / Ethiopia / Kenya)  you’re drinking SEVEN different roasts.  As you can see, we put a lot of work into each bag of coffee we produce.


Coffee Roasting: taking it S-L-O-W

A couple paragraphs back I mentioned thatThe Lovely & Talented Roast Mistresstakes a lot longer to roast a batch of coffee than most other (or all the other) roasters out there.  It’s not unusual for her to stretch out a roast 23 or 24 minutes.  And the big factory roasters boast that they get the job done in 7 minutes.  Some even advertise that fact as a good thing–trying to make an uninformed public believe that’s a good thing.

Basically when you’re roasting coffee you’re cooking food.  So to help you get your head around the reasons for s-l-o-w roasting think about cooking a big roast, say a ‘Housekeeper’s Cut’.  What gives you the best taste, a quickly cooked piece of beef or one that slow cooks for hours?

Yes, I know the answer you chose!  And the same is true with coffee.  You can “flash roast” and get the job done, or you can love your beans and your customers and put in the work necessary to make a remarkable cup of coffee.  We’ve chosen to go the love route and we trust you can taste that love in your cup when you drink Red Rooster Coffee.


Cast Iron Coffee Roasting

In the roasting process we use a cast iron roaster — the only one in Ireland — instead of a steel roaster.  This makes a HUGE difference in the roast.  If you’ve ever cooked in a cast iron pan you know how it delivers a soft even heat that a steel pan doesn’t.  So right there you can see the benefits of what we do for the coffee.

Add to that that steel drum roasters, which most all of them are, are prone to hot spots andtipping,a term the coffee industry uses for slightly burning the beans in spots.  This often happens in a steel drum roaster when the beans come into contact with the hot spots.  On the other hand a cast iron roasting drum heats slowly, smoothly, and evenly so tipping (and other negative steel drum roaster issues) isn’t a concern.

So why doesn’t everyone use cast iron?  The short answer is time and money.  A cast iron roaster takes longer to heat-up than steel.  And in between one roast and another you have to let the roaster cool because you don’t want to put raw, green beans right into high heat, you want to gently buring them up to optimum heat.  So it takes longer to begin roasting and you have to wait longer between roasts for the roaster to cool down to the proper level (and you know how cast iron holds heat so that takes awhile!).  And since it takes longer for the cast iron to heat up we’re burning more fuel to do so.

Obviously you can see why roasters have quit (for the most part) using cast iron and why they try to spin things, like a seven minute roast time, into sounding like a good thing when it’s really the opposite.

Well, hopefully some of this has been interesting to you.  I’ve sure droned on for quite awhile.  I trust it’s clear that the subject is interesting to us and that there are good reasons why we roast the way we do.  I wouldn’t say they are the best economic reasons, and there are a lot of ways we could cut corners, but we don’t.  We figure that if we can get the best roasted coffee possible into your cup that you’ll come back for more.  So far it seems to be working and we truly thank you for your patronage!!!