How has coffee roasting changed and evolved from the 1950s until today? What are the important steps Mokaflor focuses on, in order to deliver high quality coffee?
Renzo Bernini, son of Vasco (founder of the company) has been one of the co-owners of Mokaflor since the late 1970s. Experience, intuition, foresight: these are only some of Mokaflor’s qualities – creating a brand which has been able to make itself in many countries.
Renzo, you’re in charge of roasting at Mokaflor. How would you describe the roasting procedure when you first started working in the company?
My father Vasco started roasting coffee in the 1950s. At that time a high quality Espresso was perceived with a great creaminess and an important body. At that time, the leva or lever machines were booming in the market and were the first ones that were able to create the famous Espresso crema.
Back then, roasting companies were focused on roasting very dark, to create a full-bodied blend with a dense crema, but therefore also a definitely bitter product.
Furthermore, with this type of roasting, the coffee bean’s lipids tend to extract themselves due to the internal pressure; that’s why dark roasted coffee beans tend to become shiny. This was perceived as an added value, to the point that some even believed roasting companies sprayed some sort of oil onto the beans to make them “look better”.
Mokaflor’s roasting style has changed over time. When did this happen?
Since Vasco founded the company in 1950, his main goal was to find the perfect roast profile for each coffee variety. This is why, compared to what most of the other roasters were doing, he avoided pre-blending and roasted each variety individually before blending.
As you can see, we always carried out this very gourmet and fine-roasting procedure, but back then we did so without the use of any special equipment. Only our sight, smell and the great knowledge and experience of the head roaster, which has always been (and still is!) one of the pillars of our company.
Today, we apply the same knowledge and single origin roasting methodology, combined with the use of specific equipment and softwares which help us register the roast profiles for each variety and support us during the entire process. However, the master roaster’s sight, smell and knowledge still, always have the final say!
What are the steps that led you to what we can today define as “modern coffee roasting”?
When developing Espresso Academy, our coffee training school, we brought a whole new team of coffee experts and professionals to Mokaflor. Gabriele, Espresso Academy’s manager, and his team, have supported and helped us to develop our roasting procedure even further and today assist us with all the new technologies, improvements and quality controls which are fundamental to maintain a high roasting quality.
In general, one of our biggest challenges was to go our own way. While many of our competitors were still focusing on the body – we always believed in enhancing each coffee variety’s aromas with individual roast profiles. This takes up more time and needs careful attention for each batch we roast, but in the end we believe it’s truly worth it.
The latest step then took place when we launched CaffèLab, our e-commerce focused on specialty coffees.
Also with this project, our path towards enhancing the coffee bean’s flavor still continues: our roasts became lighter while registering each roast with increasingly advanced softwares and we also started using smaller machines for the specialty coffee batches. Currently we have three roasting machines of different sizes and we carry out meticulous checks related to the degree of humidity and density.
Having such a long history and tradition, we have truly witnessed the entire history of coffee roasting in Italy. A lot has changed in terms of technology and knowledge from the 1950s until today, but what has remained constant is our passion for high quality coffee and the excitement we bring to our everyday roasting experience.