Caffe Ibis: Lighten Up the Roast

A few weeks ago, I was asked what I’d do without coffee, and my unhesitant reaction was that I couldn’t go on living because, yes—it’s that important to me. Dramatics aside, I imagine there’s a few of you out there with similar sentiments. Us slaves to the roasted bean do a decent job at celebrating favorite baristas and local coffee shops, but without the roast masters behind the scenes, those mugs we fill each morning, afternoon and occasional evening wouldn’t be possible.

The Caffe Ibis roasting plant in Logan has been an integral part in shaping Utah’s coffee landscape for more than 30 years. In the last decade, Caffe Ibis observed a third-wave coffee revolution as lighter roasts exploded in popularity. “Somewhere around 2015, smaller coffee roasters began pushing the limits on what was normal in the roasting world, which at the time was darker roasts,” explains Tom Magnuson, Caffe Ibis’s Marketing Manager. For years Ibis’s research was focused on farming, but the emergence of the lighter roasts taught them more about why lighter roasted coffee tastes significantly different than dark roasts. “We learned that the lighter you roast the bean, you’re getting the flavor from the farm and the climate that the bean came from, whereas the flavor of the darker roasts is derived from the roasting notes rather than the regional influences,” Magnuson says.

Along with the lighter roasts, the coffee industry has introduced a flood of new offerings like cold brews, nitro brews and pour-overs, yet Magnuson explains that the industry is starting to level out again. “It’s been great to learn all these new methods of coffee, but the average at-home coffee drinker is prone to avoid these innovative blends. What we discovered is that the medium roasts are what most people prefer.” Ibis listened to the research and are now focusing most of their roasting efforts on medium roasted coffee.

Brandon Despain, Caffe Ibis’s Director of Coffee, concentrates on providing their roasters education and training, ensuring they all have a good understanding of roasting and farming practices. Many new coffee companies are now using modern technology for roasting purposes, making consistency easier. Ibis, however, keeps it old-school with its artisan approach. The company still practices the basic principles of roasting—listening, smelling and tasting. Ibis’s Roast Masters come in 3-4 times a week to complete a “cupping”—a process used to identify factors of the coffee such as roast defects, acidity and finish, allowing them to keep the roasts consistent without the use of computers.

Like most industries, coffee has been hit hard through the last few years. Diminished supply chains have led to shortages, but the greater long-term risk to the industry is climate change. Many roasters are now looking at the possibility that Arabica beans, preferred by many roasting houses, could be unobtainable within the next few years, turning the attention toward the underdog Robusta bean. “As much as we love Arabica beans, our reality is that the Robusta beans will be the only sustainable coffee plant,” Magnuson states. Ibis isn’t wasting time waiting for the change—they added Robusta beans to their repertoire, including in their new roast Magical Breakfast Blend.

For more information about where Caffe Ibis’ coffee is available visit their website.

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Blakely Page
Blakely Page
Blakely Page is a local writer and artist in Salt Lake City. She's a cat herder that loves to write about art, coffee, and fun happenings around Utah. Blakely also teaches art and writing and has had several creative nonfiction essays and artworks published.

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