Jonas Emil Coffee Roasters Shares Some Great Coffee Tips

By That's, March 11, 2022

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Jonas Emil Carlson left his home in Sweden at 14 years old because of the country’s potato shortage. Potatoes were a staple of the Swedish diet, and the blight caused widespread famine. With little more than the clothes on his back, Carlson decided to seek a better life in the United States.

The new world imposed many changes on the young man, but one thing that did not change was his love of good coffee. That love of coffee has been passed down for two generations. Jonas Emil Carson’s grandson, and founder of Jonas Emil Coffee Roasters, David Henry, tells That’s about his business and also gave us some great coffee making tips. 


Image via Jonas Emil Carlson Coffee Roasters

What brought you to China and why Shanghai?

I came to China 25 years ago as the first stop in a grand vagabond scheme. I had taught English in Taiwan many years earlier and I figured I would spend a few years on the Mainland and just work my way around the world. I sent my resume to many universities in China and got a job at Shanghai International Studies University. What was supposed to be a waystation on my grand world tour became a home. I had a very rewarding 20-year teaching career.

When I arrived in Shanghai, the only coffee you could find was instant coffee. I remember going to the Huating Hotel thinking I could get a decent cup of brewed coffee there, only to be served instant. I found some old local restaurants that served coffee popular with the older Shanghainese people. It was very dark, very strong and very bitter. I think I would appreciate it more now, but back then I didn’t like it at all. I gave up drinking coffee for several years and drank tea instead. 

Then my son started working for a small coffee roaster in the United States and I thought that was just what Shanghai needed. I talked about opening a coffee roastery for years but nothing happened until I met my Chinese business partner. A very good chef, he had come from the countryside to work in the restaurant industry here. He found that employment in the big city was often unstable. I told him about my plans for a coffee roastery and he said we should do it. It’s been a fruitful relationship. Fifteen years later we’re still partners.

Our beans come from all the major coffee-growing regions around the world. For example, our Ethiopian Sidamo comes from small-hold farms in a single woreda, or district, of several villages. Our coffees from Mexico and El Salvador each come from a single farm. 

coffee1.jpgImage via Jonas Emil Carlson Coffee Roasters

What flavors do you offer? Is there something for everyone?

Taste is subjective. There is no perfect coffee for everyone. That’s why we offer a wide range of flavors. 

Our single origins are mostly lighter, medium roasts because we want to preserve the fruitiness of the beans. But that fruitiness is different depending on the coffee: sweet fruits (strawberry jam, mango, grapes) in Costa Rica, apple in Colombia, apricot in Yunnan; red wine in Kenya. Our Mexican coffee has a light lemony accent to its predominantly earthy flavors.

Unlike most of our single origins, we roast our Yunnan coffee to highlight its smoky qualities over its apricot acidity. Sumatra is the only coffee we roast both medium and dark. Sumatra is naturally low in acidity. We like to keep the touch of red plum and longan flavors in the medium roast, but many customers like the deep rich flavor with virtually no acidity of the dark roast.

Our Shanghai Silhouette blend is our best-selling coffee because the price is friendly and the flavor is full and well balanced. This blend has been developed over time with small changes and adjustments. There is no fixed recipe because coffee characteristics change from season to season. So, we are regularly adjusting the mix to achieve our target profile.

Can you give our readers some tips about how to make the best coffee at home? 

This is a question I was more eager to answer when I was new to the industry. Now I get stymied by all the contradictory advice. The basics are well documented. Use 13-18g of ground coffee to make an 8oz cup of coffee. 

Use the same spoon every time you make coffee. A full-rounded Chinese-style soup spoon is a good starting point, somewhere within the 13-18g guideline. It won’t be long before you know just how much coffee in that spoon makes a strength you like to drink. 

Buy the best quality freshly-roasted coffee you can afford. Freshness is the key. After a coffee finishes roasting, it continues to develop. Some may reach peak flavor 3-5 days after roasting. Some blends don’t peak for 10 days. After that, the flavor slowly starts to deteriorate. You want to make coffee with beans that are as close to their peak as you can.

Buy a grinder and grind only as much as you intend to use. Coffee keeps its flavor better when in whole beans. 101 different coffee-making hacks will improve your coffee incrementally, but none of them will make as big a difference as grinding your own beans.

coffee.jpgImage via Jonas Emil Carlson Coffee Roasters

How should I store my beans?

There are four elements you want to avoid when storing coffee.

Air. Keep your coffee in an air-tight container and open only when you have to. We put a one-way air valve in our packages so you can roll up the bag tight and squeeze out excess air when you’re ready to put the coffee away.

Moisture. Keep your coffee beans dry. Don’t keep beans in your refrigerator because it’s moist. Coffee also absorbs odors that might be present in the refrigerator. In climates with high humidity, you want to minimize exposure to the moist air as best you can.

Light. Light speeds up the degradation of coffee flavor, so better not to keep your beans in a clear glass container. Better to put them in an opaque ceramic one.

Heat. Don’t store beans near an oven or stove where the temperature may get very hot.

Freezing beans will help preserve the flavor for a long time as long as you are not opening and closing and refreezing beans. We think it’s better to just buy what you need for two weeks and then buy more from your favorite coffee roaster.

Scan the QR Code below to get your coffee fix!


[Cover image via Jonas Emil Coffee Roasters]

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