Light Ain’t Bad: Sniper’s Hide & Silencer Smooth
We’re starting our journey through all of the Black Rifle Coffees with their lighter roasts. We are not coffee aficionados in any sense of the word. We don’t swish it around in our mouths, spit it back into the cup, stir it with ebony sticks from Ethiopia, or filter it through the underwear of Mongolian virgins. We do, however, drink a lot of it. We’re learning as we go, and doing our due diligence to understand what makes coffee taste good. There are a lot of misconceptions about light roasts, so we’d like to start by dispelling some of them, but first:
What is a Light Roast?
Lightly roasted coffee beans aren’t exposed to heat for as long as darker roasts. Simply put, these beans are “rare.” Light roasts actually retain more of the beans’ original flavor, and tend to be the most acidic out of all the roasts. The beans tend to be tan or light brown in color, and haven’t opened up enough to expose much oil. While roasting, the beans reach an internal temperature of somewhere between 356 and 401 degrees F.
On to the misconceptions:
Lighter Roasts Have Less Caffeine: The truth is that if you measure your coffee by scoops, you get more kick from light roasts. Since the beans haven’t been roasted as long, they are more dense and you’ll get a few extra beans into the scoop or spoon. If you measure your coffee by weight, however, the dark roast wins because you’re getting more bean per weight unit. The truth is that it doesn’t really matter because the difference is negligible.
Lighter Roasts Are Milder: There are plenty of “strong” light roasts. They may not have the burnt or oaky flavor of a dark roast, but sweetness and tanginess aren’t to be underestimated as flavor profiles. There are plenty of light roasts that’ll deliver a swift kick to your mouth.
I hadn’t had much experience with light roasts until trying these, and was surprised that it didn’t taste much like the coffee I was used to drinking. I had mostly steered towards dark roasts in my coffee drinking career, wrongly assuming that these were more potent. Sniper’s Hide and Silencer Smooth are the two lightest offerings from BRCC, and we were surprised at how different they tasted.
Hannah and I did a taste test, and wrote down our observations before interacting at all. Our goal here is to convey a flavor profile that you’ll be able to interpret, and to give you some guidance in ordering. We did a bit of research on how to taste-test coffee, and we’re reporting on “standard” flavor / coffee elements. Here’s what we found:
This is BRCC’s lightest roast. It’s a classic example of how light roasts have a totally different flavor profile: this was an education. We felt that this roast taught us a lot about the natural flavors of coffee that get burned out of dark roasts- the results were interesting.
Aroma: I smelled cherry, pine, bay leaves, and cinnamon, she smelled teriyaki and roasted vegetables. What’s interesting here is that these are not scents you would associate with coffee. Keep in mind that we’re listing scents other than the standard coffee smell you might expect.
Acidity: We didn’t pick up much acidity here, but I suspect that we missed the mark a bit. All of the sweetness we were picking up later on was also a function of the acid found in lighter roasts. The tanginess that we discovered in both SS and SH are evidence of a high-acid coffee.
Bitterness: Nope, none to speak of!
Body: To explain this term (I had to Google it): Body refers to how something feels in your mouth. SS was light and watery, not creamy or buttery.
Nuttiness: Neither Hannah or I found much “nutty” flavor. We picked up on all kinds of other stuff though: chocolate, spices, burnt popcorn, and more. SS might be one of the more complex coffees that I’ve tasted, and I attribute that to the fact that it’s really the purest distillation of the beans’ real flavor.
Sharpness: Not sharp- this coffee is very, very, smooth.
Other/RHO Says: I loved this coffee, and would drink it every morning.We brewed these coffees at standard strength: two tablespoons of grounds to six ounces of water. I loved the flavors in this cup, but would double down on the strength. We’re skeptical that people actually brew their coffee at this strength though, so we’re betting that it’s a bit more standard-tasting than we found in this test.
SH is a mix of Columbian and Brazilian beans, but as these are the two largest coffee producers in the world, that doesn’t actually tell us much. What we do know is how it tasted.
Aroma: I was reminded of bourbon, apricot, and honey. Hannah found herbal notes and raw honey. We were surprised at how similar our findings were. This was the point at which I realized that the light roast coffee was a new beast for me.
Acidity: Mild tartness, but no “zing.”
Bitterness: Neither Hannah or I found this coffee very bitter at all.
Body: Sniper’s Hide is sort of buttery- it has a pleasant volume, and coats the mouth effectively.
Nuttiness: Hannah and I both found less nutty flavors in SH than we had found in other coffees. Although the “roast” flavors come through, there’s less peanut/almond flavors here than in other brews we’ve tried.
Sharpness: We unanimously found SH to be very smooth.
Other/RHO Says: Personally, the smoothness and sweeter/tangier flavors of Sniper’s Hide make it a bit of a weird bird for me. I imagine that this would be effectively balanced by brewing it a bit stronger.