Our Roasts: Breeze, Gale & Storm
What do those mysterious little symbols on the coffee labels mean?
All things on Earth live with wind, of course, in varying degrees of intensity. We fisherfolk, who live part of our lives on the ocean, pay very close attention to the wind since it affects the seas where our boats are traveling. Not surprisingly, when we are on the water, we are thinking about fish, the wind, the boat, and of course, coffee, (though not necessarily in this order!) - so it made sense to us to liken the different roasts of the coffee to the strength of the wind. First, a note on the Beaufort Scale.
Sir Francis Beaufort of the Royal Navy finally standardized a scale that could be used by mariners to describe weather observations in the early 1800’s. Previously, one captain’s ‘gentle breeze’ may have been another’s ‘strong breeze’ (the first may have been in a schooner, the other in a small dory!). The original scale addressed the force of the wind on sailing ships.
Further adjustments were needed in the scale regarding the effect of the wind on the ocean itself (such as white caps, spray coming off waves, etc.) with the arrival of steam-powered ships. Effects of wind on land were added later so that the scale could have a broader usage.
The line points the wind’s direction, and wind speed is indicated by the shorter lines, or ‘barbs’. Each barb represents 10 knots, a ½ barb is 5 knots, a ‘pennant’ is 50 knots! The Beaufort Scale has 5 different strengths for breezes – we chose the sprightly ‘moderate breeze’ symbol, Force 4, which means winds are blowing 11-16 knots (13-18 mph).
A light roast coffee, usually ‘sweet, bright, lively, or fruity’, seemed like a ‘Breeze’ to us, one of those days when you don’t need long underwear, maybe you’ll even shed some rain gear, risk a little slime because the weather is just so nice and well, breezy. We are aiming for a balance between acidity and the bean’s essence, subtle fruit notes, lighter body and a clean finish. The bean color will be a lovely copper brown.
The Beaufort Scale reserves 4 categories for Gale Force winds, so we chose Force 8, with winds 34-40 knots (39-46 mph). A medium roast, ‘nutty, spicy, mellow, mature’, worked well for our ‘Gale’, when the wind is up, a seasoned crew on deck, fishing is good, and everything is smoothly working. The ‘Gale’ coffee roast color will shift to a more chocolaty brown as the beans heat up, flavors becoming smooth to mellow, and a balanced mouth feel has developed.
Storm, Force 11, would be absolutely terrifying for a 32’ Bristol Bay gillnetter, with winds to 63 knots (64-72 mph) and exceptionally high seas. Our ‘Storm’ comes to mind, we’ve been out in bad weather for a while, skies are dark, waves are tall, and like the bean at this point, the fishing is precarious; the crew and the beans, though well-oiled, are hoping for a break! Beans must be ‘dropped’ to avoid complete carbonization, a ‘Hurricane’ so to speak, in Gale Force Coffee lingo, rescued on the brink of destruction. We hope you will find our ‘Storm’ coffee exceptional, too, in a good way, with its baker’s chocolate dark brown, some oils beginning to show, spicy flavors, low acidity, and full body.