Cafe Sessions with Steve: May 2023

Hey there, coffee lovers! It's a great day for a Café Session, isn't it? We know this one came a little late; but in our defense, May was a whirlwind of events! I know, I know, two months in a row—I clearly didn't learn my lesson from the last time. But hey, better late than never, right?

So, what's brewing in the Mile High City? Well, Denver is buzzing with anticipation as the Denver Nuggets make their way through the NBA Finals. Could this be the year they finally become Finals Champs and make history? We're keeping our fingers crossed! Meanwhile, as we enter the month of June, it's time to celebrate love and diversity because it's Pride Month! Get ready for the colorful extravaganza as the Pride Parade takes over the streets of Denver on June 24th and 25th. Let's show our support and celebrate the beautiful tapestry of humanity!

Now let’s dive into what keeps you all coming back to read these Café Sessions each month — our shared love for coffee and all things café-related. Grab your favorite drink, kick back, and let's dive into this Café Session, where we'll be discussing the roasting process as well as some delicious adult coffee beverage options!

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How does the roasting process affect flavor and caffiene content? 

This is a great question as coffee has come a long way in the last 10-15 years. Heck! Even Starbucks noticed the new wave of coffee roasting and opened up their Starbucks Reserve stores that cater to the craft coffee wave. Years ago, everyone seemed to want dark gritty coffee; the thought was "the stronger the taste, the stronger the coffee." But this could not be more wrong!

The difference between light roasts and dark roasts comes from the temperature range and duration of the roast. Lights are roasted for about 10min between 350-400*F while dark roasts are heated above 400*F and for about 15min. Heating coffee beans removes moisture, so dark roast beans tend to be light and puffy, while light roasts are dense and moist. Roasting also brings natural oils to the surface of the beans, which is why dark roasts tend to have a shine. Although the beans look very different, they will have virtually the same caffeine content. What matters is the weight of beans used per cup so if the bean is denser the total number of beans used will be less, although the actual amount of coffee yielded will be the same. Hence, there is not more or less caffeine in a dark roast versus a light.

It’s also worth noting that some people do speculate lighter beans have more caffeine, hypothesizing that caffeine burns off in the roast. This, however, is false because the caffeine is actually stored in the beans themselves and released upon grinding and brewing.

Additionally, much like stopping at your favorite dispensary and only looking at the THC content before choosing the flower you want, you miss out on a lot of great coffees if you just look at the "light/medium/dark" descriptions. Why? The method to roast coffee beans is most similar to making wine - it is not instant and it takes a lot of different processes to get right, but when done properly, you can actually taste the different notes used in the roasting process. I remember the first time trying an Indonesian Sumatra from Novo Coffee and smelling something that spiked my nose senses, just to learn that black pepper was used in the creation of that specific bean. This was a coffee far from your ordinary "dark roast" coffee, and had I just looked at the “dark” label, I may have missed out on the distinguished and different flavor profiles.

To learn more about different coffee flavor profiles, check out this “Global Coffee Taster’s Flavor Wheel”. This wheel helps you dial in all the various flavors you can get out of roasting the coffee beans!

coffee brewers wheel

WHAT are some unique adult coffee drinks? 

If by unique you mean boozy then why get so creative? Just spike it up with a little whiskey and go with an Irish Coffee!  Actually just doing the research for this article I discovered you can basically add any sort of alcohol to your coffee and call it a different coffee drink, for example a Mexican Coffee is a cup of coffee with Kahlua and Tequila. But really there are plenty of coffee cocktails out there to give you a little zip while drinking something that mellows you out. 

In the past I used to serve a group of gentlemen Friday evenings that wanted to improve on my all time favorite cocktail, the Dublin drop (previously known as the Irish Carbomb), by replacing the Bailey's with freshly pulled shots of espresso topped with a little cream. They even brought me one from the bar next door to try (don't tell my boss). Now it wasn't quite as easy to toss back but the extra coffee kick was a pleasant addition. 

That said, as the temperature heats up, there are other options for a cold caffeinated and boozy coffee drink aside from the traditional Espresso Martini or White Russian. My Suggestions are the following:


  • 2oz Rum
  • 2oz Kahlua
  • 2oz crème de cacao
  • 2oz cream of coconut
  • 2oz milk
  • Blend all the ingredients and top with nutmeg and shaved chocolate.

Espresso Negroni:

  • 1oz Gin
  • 1oz Campari
  • .5oz Vermouth
  • .5oz coffee liqueur
  • 1oz espresso
  • Shake all ingredients and pour over ice, wipe the top of the glass with a lemon peel for garnish. 

Give these a try, then stop by Rise Café to let me know what you thought!

If you have a topic or question you’d like me to tackle next month, don’t hesitate to ask! Submit an anonymous question or problem here. No name or email required.