Coffee with Andrew: Roasting for Espresso vs. Filter

Introducing a new feature on the Linea Caffe Blog:

Coffee with Andrew

Andrew Barnett has been working in coffee for the last 30 years. Along the way, he’s gleaned deep knowledge, helpful tips and charming stories that he puts to work at Linea everyday. We’re hoping to use this feature to share some of that with you—so you can get to know Andrew the way we do!


Andrew on Roasting for Espresso vs. Filter

At Linea, sometimes certain coffees are offered as both a filter roast and an espresso roast. Can you talk about how you make the decision which coffees are good candidates for two different roast styles?

In general, we are looking for coffees that are approachable. For us, that means they are sweet no matter what brew method you are using. Sometimes people will taste a new coffee on the cupping table and say that they think it would be good as espresso. For me, I look for coffees that are sweet and clean and then we will try them at different roast levels with different brew methods. Only then do we decide if they work at different roast levels and with different brew methods.


Can you talk about how you usually approach the differences between a filter and espresso roast?

For any coffee we roast, we are looking to find the sweet spot for the person drinking the coffee. If we can label the brew method we were aiming for, it helps our customer make the best cup of coffee possible. Usually an espresso preparation requires more development to enhance the sweetness versus the level needed to achieve a similar result in a filter brew.

Many describe this as a “darker” roast or “lighter” roast, but we are always just trying to optimize the sweetness for the brew method.

An analogy I like to use to help people think about roasting coffee is the idea of caramelizing an onion. You don’t want to get the heat too high or you will char the onion, too low and it will never caramelize. But if you get your temperature just right and can take it off the heat when the onion has achieved it’s sweetest spot, you’ve created a perfect expression of the onion. It’s a similar idea for coffee, but maybe a bit more complex. (laughs)

Amazing, I never thought about an onion being related to coffee. So currently on your menu is a coffee from El Injerto that is roasted for both filter and espresso. What was it about this coffee that stood out to you to offer it at two roast levels?

El Injerto is a coffee that we are incredibly familiar with. We have tasted many different expressions of this coffee over the years and are intimate with it’s flavor profile. This year’s crop was spectacular and we were excited to try it with different roasts and brew methods. It certainly hasn’t disappointed and it has become one of the best examples of a coffee that works for both filter and espresso. We hope our customers get to try it both ways. It’s an excellent opportunity to taste how different roasts and brew methods show up in the cup.


Try Guatemala El Injerto two ways today.