Wood Fire Roasted Coffee

How Popular is it?

I’ve gotten numerous calls the last couple of years, and seemingly more than their fair share lately on individuals wanting to roast coffee over some kind of wood fire.  While I’ve been aware of some of our specialty roasters such as Mesquite Roasted Company out in Big Lake, TX for some time, the calls keep rolling in with questions about roasting over wood to add flavor to coffee.  What is your thoughts on wood-fire roasted coffee?  I suppose that personally I’m a purist of sorts and just like the coffee black, is there an entire dimension here that I just don’t get?

Is there much demand, or interest in mesquite, oaked, or other kinds of coffee.

So the advice I’ve given folks based upon my understanding of the matter is that:

“While it’s entirely possible to roast anything, coffee included, over a wood fire…  temperature control is perhaps the greatest difficulty.  As a result, finishing a roast, or controlling a roast may be difficult or impossible.  It will rather simply finish when it’s good and ready, which may result fast roasts or slow roasts which can make a coffee bland and unvibrant.

So while it is true that many of these would-be woodfire roasters

would be in a more of a boutique environment on the prairie or, sitting outside of the proverbial Alamo hocking coffee to tourists looking for something unique, to carry home as a souvenir of their trip, I fail to see the draw of wood-fired coffee except that it would be unique and niche item that people would be inclined to buy as it would be different and never-before-seen.  I get that, it’s niche.  But is it good?

So in cases where you aren’t roasting over a pit of savory charcoal, turning the spit by hand in your boots and cowboy hat capitalizing on the show to the sheer glee and excitement of your customer base walking by and looking for something out of ordinary to spend loads of cash on, then you must be roasting because of the taste it imbues into the coffee right?

So I’d love some community feedback on that subject.  Other than the obvious appreciation for wood flavors, does it truly impart something special into the coffee?

In cases where you aren’t roasting for the show, I certainly would prefer having control over the roast where wood fire roasting can be done behind the scenes.  In these cases I’ve suggested running a wood chip tray beneath the RK Drum to accomplish both adding the wood smoke flavor and allowing for proper heat control.

I should think this would be the optimum way to roast with both control and imparting the precious wood flavors.  If there is enough interest, I might make a wood chip tray for us to use just for smoking coffee, and for diffusing the heat.  Thoughts?  Comment below or fire off an email!  Regards,


Author: Nick Day