A passion for food + fashion

Coffee Talk

In Drink on August 10, 2009 at 8:53 am


Last week a couple of you emailed with your favorite coffee roasts and where to drink them. I’d love to hear from more of you—where is your favorite cup of Joe? And do you like a dark roast or medium? Me, I’m a medium-roast kind of girl.

Although I live in Los Angeles, my very favorite beans in the whole wide world are from Ristretto Roasters in Portland, Oregon. And recently Jane and Michael Stern of Road Food named Ristretto Roasters the best cup of coffee in the Pacific Northwest. Interestingly, owner Din Johnson gives all his beans a medium roast with the belief that each bean has its optimal roasting point, and beyond that you’re taking away the flavor. Din is married to my friend Nancy Rommelmann, and when I was talking with her about the finer points of a medium roast she put it this way: “The analogy of a steak is a good one: too little fire, you don’t get all the flavor; too much, it’s burnt and dry.” Frankly, I don’t know beans about roasting, but Din clearly does. Stick your nose inside this bag of earthy, heady Sumatra Sidikalang Tabu Jamu beans and inhale:


Can you smell that fruity, almost floral aroma? Trust me, the flavor is just as rich. If you are in Portland, a visit to Ristretto is a must! Pick up a couple bags for the trip home. I’m making my way through these two goodie bags of Sumatra and El Salvadoran beans.


By the way, if you’re wondering where esteemed Mayor Villaraigosa likes the beans, the answer is a sidewalk table on a Friday afternoon with a lady friend at Peet’s on Larchmont. I must say the mayor looked very rested after his recent Icelandic vacay. Tiny G was not impressed and if he were able to say more than banana and guapo (the extent of his repertoire beyond mama and dada), he would have demanded to know why the mayor hasn’t pressed AEG to reimburse the city for Michael Jackson’s funeral costs.

  1. You’re spot on with medium roasts. Many of the coffee giants roast their beans very dark because they use filler beans (robusta instead of arabica)… the darker the beans, the less you’re able to distinguish different flavors, so this is how they get away with it.

    On the other side of the spectrum, coffee cuppers (professionals who evaluate and critique coffee) roast very light so they can taste and smell the differences between coffees from different origins. Medium roasts allow a coffee to be more “smooth” but without having that charcoal taste of a dark roast.

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