Roasting, Grinding, and Sipping on Amavida Coffee's Roastery Tour
April 19, 2019 by Manny Chavez
The next time you sit down with your favorite cup of joe, as you ponder your next move or plan your day, you might consider just what makes that cup so darn good!
If your cup was brewed at any one of the four local Amavida Coffee and Tea locations, you can be sure that you’re tasting the results of Amavida’s exclusive Roastery, located right here in SoWal. We were fortunate enough to attend one of Amavida’s Roaster Tours (conducted from 10-11 a.m. every 2nd Thursday) to see what’s behind all this excellent coffee.
Our tour leader, Martín Trejo, Amavida’s Director of Coffee and Head Roaster, warmed up the crowd with a brief history of Amavida’s beginnings. As it turns out, the company had its humble beginnings in Freeport back in 2004. Founded by Dan and Sally Bailey, Amavida (derived from "love life" in Spanish) has always roasted its own coffee beans, and their impressive roaster facility allows for them to roast a variety of premium coffee beans both for their own use and for wholesale distribution.
Martín, who is no “jittery joe,” is smooth as silk and he calmly explained how he sources all of Amavida’s coffee beans (buying green) and went over the different crop seasons.
“Basically, coffee beans have two harvest cycles, coffee grown north of the equator and coffee grown south of the equator. Right now, Ethiopia, Guatemala, and Mexico have all finished their harvest and their coffees are literally on their way to the states right now.”
Following his brief introduction, Martín had our group don required hair nets and led us into the main roasting area where we viewed many large bags of “green” coffee bean bags stacked and ready to roast. The roasting process only takes about 10 minutes and Martín patiently (and expertly) took us through the process, from green coffee beans to the final product.
He explained how the coffee beans change chemically from start to finish. We learned that there are basically four basic phases during the roasting process, and he was able to retrieve small samplings from the roaster for everyone to see the changes as they occurred. In the first Drying Phase (temperature at 280 degrees F), the coffee is still green and smells like cut grass.
Next, at the Yellowing Phase (305 degrees F), the coffee is yellow and smells kind of like hay. Next, the Browning Phase (360 degrees F), the beans have turned a pale brown and smell like baked bread or cookies (you'll be tempted to munch). And then onto the First Crack phase (395 degrees F) where the beans pop out along their creases.
At this point, the beans are a darker brown and have advanced to a vinegar-like smell due to the acetic acid. Seems like all beans must complete this “first crack” to be fully “developed.” If the roaster weren’t so well enclosed, we would have been treated to monumental popping sounds…this roaster, at this phase, is like a giant popcorn popper on overdrive. The beans exit the roaster and rest in their bins for about a day prior to being packaged for shipping.
As we leave the roasting/packaging area, we give up our hair nets and Martín then brews up some fine coffee for the now-educated group. The coffee brewed for our group is from last week’s roast.
Martín explains, “coffee roasted the same day still retains too much CO2 to brew correctly and it doesn’t taste good. The sweet spot for coffee to taste it’s very best is between 7-10 days after the roast date.”
The roasting space allows for Amavida to not only teach about the science behind roasting but provides a great opportunity to connect with the community and teach about specialty coffee. The Amavida Roastery was honored last year as the Micro Roaster of the Year by Roast Magazine, giving further credence to their roasting superbness.
Our tour group toasted to our new knowledge and were thankful for Martín’s presentation. The next time we have some coffee, we’ll know why it tastes so darn good….especially if it was roasted at the Amavida Roastery!
Amavida Coffee and Tea will be celebrating their 15th anniversary in business on May 18, 2019. The celebration will be open to the public and will be held at the Roastery. For more information or to check on tours, call 850-213-1965. The Roastery is located at 712 Serenoa Road, off Hwy 98 East within South Walton Commerce Park (just down the road from Grayton Beer Company).