Omni-roasting coffee – what is it and how do you do it?
Omni-roasting has been booming among coffee roasteries during past five years. What does omni-roasting mean? How do you omni-roast? What is the difference between traditional and omni-roast? Let's answer these questions!
What is omni-roasting?
Omni-roasting means that the coffee has been roasted in a way that it can be brewed by any method from filter or espresso, opposed to the traditional opinion that coffees and roasts are developed for brewing method (e.g. filter coffee roast or espresso roast). Omni-roasting celebrates the idea that as long as the coffee has been roasting well, it’s baristas duty to find the optimal flavor out of it. This of course doesn’t mean that every coffee will taste the same in every brewing method or that there wouldn’t be optimal or best method to brew different coffees. If you want to know more about roasting in general, check out Sampo's blog about roasting basics.
The traditional problem with espresso roasts has been that you need roast the coffee to be more soluble (=darker) so that it doesn’t taste too sour/acidic when brewed. This is the reason why traditionally espresso roasts are from the darker side of´he spectrum. Though, espresso machines and baristas’ knowledge about brewing has developed a lot during past 10 years which has helped us to understand that espresso can taste great even if it’s brewed from a light roast.
How do you omni-roast?
Omni-roasting can be done a few ways. Some roasters don’t change the roast profiles when omni-roasting as their goal is to find the optimal roast for the coffee and then it’s the baristas job to modify and find the perfect flavor when brewing. This kind of omni-roasting requires a lot from the barista as some coffees, especially light roasts tend to have a lot of acidity when brewed as an espresso. Balancing the flavor so that the acidity doesn’t overpower and at the same time you don’t want to over-extract the coffee. On the other hand, this type of coffees also require a lot from the grinders as you need to grind the coffees really fine (=to be more soluble) which quite often leads to excessive heat in the burrs and big clumps in the grind. That often leads to uneven extraction (sour and bitter at the same time) when brewing espresso.
Another way to omni-roast is to slow down the roast. Slow roasting decreases the acidity in the coffee and enhances smoothness and body. As mentioned earlier, acidity can be an issue with light roasted coffees when brewing espresso so slow roasting helps with that. Slow roasted coffees are also more soluble, thus easier to extract and use for the barista. Downside in slow roasting is that you will miss some flavors and the coffees will taste “roastier” (=darker) even if they are roasted light.
Should you consider omni-roasting?
Well, it depends. First question; who are you roasting to? If they are experienced baristas who have the state of art espresso machines and grinders, then definitely you should consider roasting lighter omni-roasts. On the other hand, if your customers are a bit less experienced, it might be easier for them if you omni-roast slower and make the extracting easier for them.
Overall, omni-roasting is a great way to show to the consumers how versatile coffee is as an ingredient and great tasting coffee can be brewed many ways.
For the record, always roasting dark for espresso is just lazy.