If it feels like finding a smooth, rich, dark roast coffee is becoming harder and harder, you wouldn’t be wrong. Specialty coffees seem to be stuck in a rut - in love with the idea of light bodied coffees that bring out unique flavors of each bean. This new obsession has lead us to the acidic, light roast revolution.
Now there is nothing wrong with a bright and floral tasting light roast. They are known for having complex flavors, higher caffeine contents, and their floral taste profiles can be a pleasant change of pace for the palette. But lighter roasts also come with the trade off of acidity.
Before diving into the buzz around acidity you should know this...
Coffee is a fruit and fruits are acidic. When coffee is roasted, heat forces out the acidic juices in the coffee cherry. In essence, the lighter the roast, the less heat was applied to roast coffee, leaving you with a more acidic coffee.
Okay, but coffee has always been acidic, so what?
Acidity is one of the key taste qualities used to evaluate a good cup of coffee, but too much of it can wreak havoc on your body. Those with digestive sensitivities (and even those without) can quickly fall victim to acid reflux - causing symptoms like heartburn and indigestion.
So in its quest to bring coffee lovers closer to origin flavors with light roasts, specialty coffee has created a new trend for itself - low acid coffee.
But low acid coffee doesn’t mean less flavor or kick. When working with our growers in Nepal, our goal was to find the right roast level for a full bodied experience that highlighted the rare growing conditions for Himalayan coffee. We found that roasting a lower acid coffee brought out a distinct flavor profile unique to high altitude Himalayan coffee.
Which brings us to the next point about acidity…
It isn’t always about the roast level. The Specialty Coffee Association recommends that a good starting point for finding a low acid coffee is to go by geography.
Nepal, with its capital Kathmandu sitting at roughly 4,500 ft, is not typically thought of as a tropical destination. The country’s high altitude plays a special role in producing a rare coffee that is full of flavor and mild in acidity.
Himalayan coffees, which tend to be less acidic because of growing conditions, are often easier on the stomach and smoother on the tongue. The Himalayas produce a coffee that thrives as a medium to medium-dark roast - packing full flavors of chocolate, caramel, smoked nuts, and yes, even floral hints that you would find in a light roast!
Nepal has not been commonly thought of as a specialty coffee destination. But as Himalayan coffee growers continue to show the world that it is possible to cultivate in conditions unlike any other, coffee from Nepal is ascending as a full flavored, well rounded, low acid coffee that can hold its own alongside the wave of fruity coffees filling local cafes.