Espresso, filter or omni: which roast profile is best for your brew?

The speciality coffee industry does a great job of providing information on finding the correct grind size for various brew methods, but choosing the right coffee roast profile can often be confusing. What does an espresso or filter roast really mean and how do you know you are making the right choice when you  buy a new coffee? Do you need a different roast for different brew methods?

What is an espresso, filter or omni roast?

For the espresso style of roast, the roasting process focuses on bringing out more of the body in the coffee so that it can take the high extraction pressure and so the flavour profile is not compromised by any milk added (like when we make a delicious flat white). When we source our beans, we look for beans that are sweet, chocolatey and have muted acidity as these will lend themselves better to espresso roasts.

For filter roasts, we adapt the roasting process to bring out the acidity in the cup. This means they are suited to a slow extraction using a V60 or another filter process with complex and often fruity flavours being prominent.  High altitude beans from regions such as East Africa can give a great tasting filter profile.

With omni roasting we go for a roast that sits somewhere in between the filter and the espresso profiles. It is a roast that we produce that should work well across a variety of different brew methods – be it aeropress, filter, espresso, or even cold brew. An example of one of our omni roasts is our Honduran Gualme which has a sweet chocolatey notes that sit alongside raspberry and citrus fruity flavours.

Is the roast profile associated with strength or darkness?

Traditionally an espresso roast was associated with strength, however this was usually due to the roast level (burnt = strong!).'. The majority of roasts you will find in speciality coffee will be defined as an espresso or filter profile rather than categorising by it’s strength or level of darkness for two reasons:

1) roasting should aim to bring out different inherent coffee qualities rather than standardising flavour with a ‘dark’ roast

2) taste is subjective, so for some, the citrus acidity you might find in a Kenyan filter might be perceived as ‘strong’, whereas for others this might be a full-bodied caramel Peruvian

So do I need to buy a coffee with a specific roast depending on how I brew?

In theory, an espresso roast should be better suited to an espresso based coffee e.g. espresso, flat white, latte etc. Likewise, a filter roast should be ideally suited to a filter brew method i.e. better for cafetiere, drip filter etc. However, we are big advocates that you should choose on taste preference above everything else. So if you brew your coffee in a cafetiere but prefer a big, full-bodied coffee, full of chocolate notes then an espresso roast might be for you!

When you're next looking through our selection of coffees, check out the roast profiles and the method that suits the coffee best - it could make a difference to your daily cup! If you'd like a specific recommendation for your brewing method, drop me an email or call and I'd be happy to chat - Dan