As I walked through the door of MAPS Roasting Room, located in the Wood River Valley, the scent of freshly roasted coffee beans filled my nose. Funky beats radiated from a turn table near the front of the facility as Jens Peterson, founder of MAPS coffee and roaster for Grace Organics and K&K, manned the roaster.
As we exchanged introductions and began discussing the operation, the temperature in the room began to rise. Thankfully the crisp morning mountain air was still surrounding me, keeping me cool, but as the day heated up, and the roaster cranked out batches of beans, the roasting room got hot! It was then that Jens began to divulge his past experiences with roasting coffee, his current projects, and his future plans. Read on to find out about his beginnings, MAPS Coffee, and what’s to come!
His relationship with roasting began as a child, growing up in the Wood River Valley. His father had a small time roasting operation in the back room of their home. After graduating from high school Jens made his way to California, only to be called back to Idaho a few years later when the family roasting operation expanded. His exposure to the roasting process at a young age continues to play a role in how he roasts today, as does his experiences in California. Thankfully for us Idahoans, Jens has brought his knowledge and experience to artisan sourced and roasted beans, which you can find at Maude’s in Ketchum, Idaho, Black Owl Coffee in Hailey, Idaho, and on his website www.discovermapscoffee.com.
Jens Brew-Your-Own-At-Home Recommendation
Although Jens likes to mix it up from time to time switching from pour over to French press, or using an espresso machine, he’s most likely to be caught sipping coffee freshly brewed by his Chemex. This type of pour over style coffee maker creates a flavorful cup of coffee, without bitterness or sediment.
Ratios for The Perfect Cup-O-Joe
- 1/2 cup of freshly ground coffee beans
- 20-25 ounces of water
Light, Medium, or Dark Roasts
Jens gave me an analogy: Lighter roasts are like eating a freshly baked loaf of bread, straight from the oven. Not underdeveloped or burnt, but rather fresh and flavorful. A medium roast would be most similar to a lightly toasted piece of the same loaf of bread. More browning while maintaining the flavor. Dark roast are as if you left the piece of bread in the toaster for a minute too long. One is more likely to taste the carbons from the charred outer portion in place of the flavor of the bread. This is the same with coffee, lighter roaster equal more of the actual bean flavor. With darker roasts one is more likely to be tasting the carbons.
MAPS Roasting Set Up
The Joper holds 30-40 lbs of green beans and roasts for 10-15 minutes at a time. Beans roast at temperatures ranging from 350 – 450°F. Near the end of the roasting process the smell of beans evolves from hay and grass to a slightly sweet, rich caramel odor and begins to crack and pop. These signs indicate the conclusion of the roasting process, after which the beans are moved into a cooling bin and continually rotated to ensure optimal movement and mixing.
Where Do the Coffee Beans Originate?
Sourcing beans is job in and of itself. For this part of the process Jens leaves it to the professionals at Royal Coffee to sources the highest quality beans from around the world. Visit their website and see their abundant quality offerings from around the globe!
Jens Peterson: Roaster and Coffee Bar Owner Extraordinaire! He would like to roast, sell, and make coffee on sight; educating people on brewing techniques while exposing others to a variety of beans and roasts. We can’t wait for his dream to become a reality!
Favorite Roaster and Coffee House (other than his own, of course!)
Sightglass Coffee in San Francisco.
The Green Beans: Three Main Processes
1. Washed Coffees
Washed coffees focus solely on the bean. They let you taste you what’s on the inside, not the outside. You see, a natural or honey processed coffee requires that the coffee cherry around the bean be flavorful. Washed coffees, however, depend almost 100% on the bean having absorbed enough natural sugars and nutrients during its growing cycle. This means the varietal, soil, weather, ripeness, fermentation, washing, and drying are absolutely key.
2. Natural/Dry Processed Coffee
The natural process, also known as the dry process, is a back-to-basics approach that stems from Ethiopia. The fruit is left on the bean, and there’s little disruption to the coffee while it dries. Although it needs less investment, it still requires certain climatic conditions to ensure the drying of the fruit and seed in time.
There are many who believe this process actually has the potential to create the most flavorful coffees – and that a comeback is just around the corner. Ben of Gold Mountain Coffee Growers told me that a nicely picked and processed natural coffee can bring out incredible cupping notes, and offer consumers amazing sweet flavors – “Some of our naturals end up tasting more like a tropical fruit salad or fruit compote than coffee.” And what’s more, natural coffee is the most eco-friendly.
3. Honey/Pulped Natural Coffee
When done right, honey processed coffee can literally taste like someone has put honey and brown sugar in your cup of coffee – although the name actually comes from how sticky the beans get during processing. In many ways, this type of coffee is halfway between a washed coffee and a natural process coffee: it’s fruity, but not in as exaggerated a way as some naturals. It often has a more rounded acidity than washed coffees, with intense sweetness and complex mouth feel. It can become a highly scientific process, as the level of mucilage – which influences the sweetness and depth of body of the coffee – is monitored and controlled. Typically, the more mucilage left on the bean, the sweeter the taste.