Coffee micro-roaster Kevin Pedeaux just opened Coast Roast Coffee & Tea (www.facebook.com/coastroastcoffee) at the St. Roch Market (2381 St. Roch Ave., 504-609-3813; www.strochmarket.com). He spoke with Gambit about roasting and brewing coffee.
At Coast Roast Coffee you restore and use century-old machines when roasting coffee. How does this affect your coffee?
Pedeaux: Modern machines are designed to roast quickly, and our machines roast a little bit slower. It does take more time, but I think when you taste our coffee, you can really taste the difference. There's a development process the bean has to go through, and I think [in the past] they knew that.
[This machine] mellows the coffee a lot. It develops the sugars more, and you get the sweeter notes out of coffee. Especially with our antique roaster, our dark roasts have a nice smoky finish. It finishes clean, but it's almost like a very clean cigar.
How do you create your coffees?
P: I have my house blend that I do, and I spend a lot of time on it because coffees go in and out of season. Blending coffee is pretty hard to do. You have to balance it and play to a flavor profile.
[When tasting coffee], you definitely talk about acidity, you talk about sweetness, you talk about the earthy quality, you talk about the fruity content. And of course, the roast level will make a difference too.
Single-origin coffees are all the rage right now. If you're drinking something like an Ethiopian Sidamo, you're drinking coffee that is just from that particular region. You're tasting the terroir, kind of like a wine. Altitude makes a big difference, soil makes a big difference, climate makes a big difference.
Everybody I buy coffee from is a coffee importer located in this town that stores coffee in this town. I'll go out and pick up green coffee that is stored here, which is kind of a big deal, because I can drive to New Orleans East and look at the coffee.
So how do you make a good cup of coffee?
P: [When buying coffee to make at home], you definitely want to buy a fresh roast. You also want to buy whole bean. Coffee is like a baked good. You don't want to buy a slice of cake, or cake with a slice out of it, because the icing seals the cake. When you grind the coffee, more of it is exposed to air, more of it oxidizes. You can taste the staleness.
Spending money on the grinder, rather than the brewer, is the way to go. I always recommend the burr grinder that stores your beans up top.
I personally like the hard water that's in New Orleans for brewing coffee. It's a detriment on machines for coffee brewers, but the minerals in the water help pull out more flavor in the coffee. I filter the water, but I don't generally use a water softener. Coffee is 99 percent water. If you can use tap water and filter it, you're in great shape.