Over the years, I’ve had people wanting a coffee that’s not too bitter. This request was usually related to acid reflux problems rather than a preference in taste. Often the solution was to give them a darker roast coffee. I had one particular individual who was so convinced that this was the solution that he ordered a single cup pour-over of our Espresso blend every day. Another solution was to suggest to the customer a lighter roast, such as Starbucks’ Veranda or Willow Blends.
The problem with the dark roast coffees, especially the espresso roast, is that there’s still acidity; albeit, more balanced than that of a Central American coffee. That is what often makes dark roast coffees more desirable for espresso – they are full bodied and have the strength to be diffused within a latte or cappuccino. It’s not often you’ll see medium to light roast coffees used in such capacity other than enjoying them as purely espresso.
When it comes to a light or blonde roast, they are roasted for a shorter amount of time often so that they don’t taste burnt. These coffees prior to being hulled have been, more often that not, subjected to a washed process which involves fermentation of the coffee cherry, and therefore a bitter flavor. What you want is a coffee that’s been through a natural processing.
Coffees from Yemen, Brazil, and Ethiopia, in short, don’t go through a washed or semi-washed process. Rather, they go through a natural processing which does not involve any fermentation, which is often where your bitter flavor comes from. The beans are sun-dried before they are hulled, leaving the much of the fruity & floral flavors still intact without any of the bitterness.
Next time you’re at you’re local coffeehouse, ask for some Ethiopia as a french press, pour-over, or as whole bean to take home! You’ll be pleased with the new experience!