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On a Caribou coffee cup I got today the sleeve says

Roasted in small batches for larger-than-life flavor.

Is there any evidence that roasting coffee in small batches produces more (or "better") flavor?

  • The specific question is answerable, but the overall claim is too broad to be addressed reasonably. Also, "perceived" can be a heck of a weasel word here, and not really helpful. Perception can be changed by marketing, after all. – Ben Barden Feb 23 '18 at 18:34
  • @BenBarden I was hoping that there may have been a blind study of some sort. Also, I was originally thinking of just coffee roasting and then thought broadening it might allow for more wiggle room if coffee roasting specifically wasn't tested but other things were. Would it be helpful (in terms of making this more answerable) to limit the question to just coffee roasting? – thesquaregroot Feb 23 '18 at 18:39
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    In the coffee example it's not about producing "better" batches. It's about detecting, throwing out, and being able to afford throwing out the bad batches. Of course you can have good quality control with big batches, and you can decide to have no quality control with small batches. But I like our edit, someone with industry experience might be able to write a good answer now. – Peter Feb 23 '18 at 19:02
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    another useful reference for a similar claim: utopiancoffee.com/faq/what-is-small-batch-roasting - they're saying that the small batches allow for both obsessive quality control, and more flexibility to finesse things during the roasting process. I don't know if it's accurate, but it at least sounds plausible. – Ben Barden Feb 23 '18 at 20:14
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    While this is a fascinating question; it just doesn't seem suitable for skeptics. It's hard to believe there is a "real" answer as everything involved is so subjective. For example, consider other food and cuisine questions such as "Should cheese be at room temperature?" "Are single-clos wines actually better?" "Is filet-mignon actually better than T-bone?" and so on. – Fattie Feb 24 '18 at 15:35
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This probably refers to roasting in traditional drum roasters in batches.

There are basically two methods of roasting employed by commercial coffee roasters.

  1. Drum roasting. Basically a Drum is heated from below and revolted to stir and mix the beans to heat them evenly. This takes about 15-20 minutes, depending on the desired darkness of the roast.

  2. Hot Air roasting. Here the beans are heated by hot air and reach target temperature much quicker. This can be implemented in a continuous process for industrial scale production. Roasting times go from 3-6 minutes.

Both methods have their advantages and disadvantages. Most obvious is the different roasting time, which advocates of the drum-roasting claim to give the chemical processes in the beans more time to develop the flavor.

From a roasters perspective:

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