Roasting with Jennings Java


Graphic submitted by Sara Davis of the Zanesville Farmers Market.

Daniel Jennings is a young entrepreneur with a passion for coffee, which led him to create his own coffee roasting company, Jennings Java, in April of 2016. He joined the Zanesville Spring Farmers’ Market this year and hopes to share his passion and knowledge of coffee with the community.

It’s not an overstatement to say that coffee is a driving passion in my life. It hasn’t always been that way, however. From an early age, I remember waking up to the smell of coffee brewing in the kitchen as my family got ready for the day. As a 5-year-old, my dad allowed me to have my first taste of the beverage that would later define my life. I promptly spat it all over his white, button-down shirt that he was supposed to wear to his meeting that morning. It wasn’t a great start, but just 5 years later, at the age of 10, I actually started to enjoy coffee. When I turned 16 and got my driver’s license my relationship with coffee changed again. It went from being a beverage I enjoyed to an escape and a way to connect with others. Exploring my home city and its coffee shops was an education in culture and tradition, all centered around this beverage. For me, it only made sense that if coffee was an everyday tradition, that the beverage that I was sipping should be as close to perfect as I could possibly have it. Thus began my journey as a coffee roaster.

Like my first experience drinking coffee, my first experience roasting it was an utter failure. It was during my freshman year of college on a cold December night in my parents’ kitchen that I burned my first batch and set off all the fire alarms. Since then, I’ve immersed myself in the world of coffee roasting and grown so much in my ability to understand how to highlight the flavors that coffee has to offer. Coffee is unique in that the flavors can range from honey-like sweetness to earthy and nutty to rich with spices. I view it as my job as a roaster to pull out those flavors and reveal all the hidden layers in each type of bean. This led me to create my own coffee roasting business – Jennings Java.

Besides coaxing out flavors, I created my roasting business because I really came to understand the importance of freshness. From the processes of roasting, grinding, and even down to brewing, the freshness of the coffee makes a huge difference. When I want coffee, I want a good crisp cup with no bitter aftertaste, and that starts with how fresh the coffee is from roast date.

One of the main ways I like to describe the coffee roasting process to people is by using the example of “cooking” the bean. To roast coffee, you are in simplest terms, using a heat source to create a chemical reaction to create our beloved roasted coffee bean. These coffee beans that we roast are actually the seeds to the coffee cherry that have been processed and dried out before it gets to us for roasting. After the coffee has been roasted we let the coffee sit for approximately 24 hours to both cool-down and degas before it is ready to be enjoyed. This process is important due to the fact that coffee needs to release carbon dioxide and this gives the bean some time to fully develop its flavor before being ground and brewed. The next step after roasting and degassing would be the grind the coffee up. It is vital to ensure an optimal flavor that you only grind coffee when you plan to use it for brewing right after. I like to describe it as leaving a bag of chips open and coming back to this bag a week later. Obviously, this would not be an enjoyable experience as the first day the chips were open. The outer part of the bean works as a way to protect the flavor just like our standard packaging for food would. Lastly, it is super important when brewing coffee to make sure you use the proper coffee to water ratio to make sure you take full advantage of the flavor your coffee has to offer. When I brew coffee I actually use a gram scale at a 1:15 ratio meaning 1 gram of coffee to every 15 grams of water if you do not have a scale, however using approximately 3 to 4 level tablespoons of coffee to 12 ounces of water would work great as well.

Jennings Java has a lot of variety in roasts currently, and some of my favorites include our Guatemalan City Roast, which has a sweeter toffee-like flavor, and our Mexican Trebollilos, which has a pronounced milk chocolate flavor.

Those interested in learning more about Jennings Java and the other vendors and products at the Spring Farmers’ Market are invited to join us every Saturday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., at Weasel Boy Brewing. There, you’ll find a variety of products, including baked goods, handmade items, local honey, maple syrup, pasture raised meats, seasonal produce and more.

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