How We Talk About Coffee

How We Talk About Coffee

Where's the RBA? (Roast, Body, Acidity)

Sourcing coffee has been at the roots of Colectivo since the very beginning. We scour the world for perfect coffees to create our beloved blends and to meet producers who outshine the rest. The key to sourcing greatness is long-lasting relationships, perpetual curiosity and a well-calibrated team of professionals.

With the launch of our new and redesigned coffee bags, some information regarding the coffee's roast, body, and acidity have departed. We've got a lot of questions on the RBA scale, so we wanted to share how we are now talking about our coffees!

What happened to the RBA scale?
Historically, we’ve shared three “ratings” to help guide you to the right coffee: roast, body and acidity on a scale from 1 to 5. While helpful as a quick reference, these descriptors aren’t always the best road to a perfect selection for all coffee drinkers!

How should I find my coffee now?
Our new packaging prominently lists each coffee’s roast level (light, medium, dark), along with three flavor notes that aim to tell you more about the coffee than a numeric scale can describe.

What do I look for if I want a low acidity coffee?
Dark roasts tend toward lower acidity and heartier notes (tobacco, cocoa, raisin or toasted nuts). If you looked for low acidity ratings in the past, try a darker roast with earthy notes.

What do I look for if I want a high acidity coffee?
Light roasts generally have higher notes of acidity (blueberry, strawberry or citrus).

What is acidity in coffee?
Roast level is very closely tied to a coffee’s acidity, or “liveliness.” Acidity, as noted in coffee, is a feeling and impression – like biting into a fresh strawberry or taking a sip of lemonade – rather than the pH. While some drinkers find themselves responding to acidity in coffee, this can be more closely related to caffeine content than the pH itself. All coffee lies in the “mildly acidic” range on the pH scale – more neutral than tomatoes, beer and most soft drinks.

What do I look for in place of body?
To describe a coffee's body, we try our best to include a note on the front of the bag to represent “mouthfeel.” Traits like syrupy, full-bodied or juicy help hint at how this coffee feels as it moves across your tongue. An easy way to think of a coffee's body is the weight and mouthfeel between skim milk (thin), 2% milk (medium) and whole milk (heavy).

We focus on flavors when selecting the coffees we source. Every coffee-producing region has a different growing season, so we maintain fresh components and the integrity of our year-round blends by finding the taste profiles we need wherever they’re fresh around the world. A coffee like Co-optiva will include coffees from a few different origins at different times each year – depending on where the harvest is fresh – but the final blend will always be “balanced” with notes of “caramel” and “dark chocolate.” This is what we’ve now noted on our bags: the flavors that we’ve crafted each of our coffees to specifically showcase.

Our Coffee Department, cafe teams, and customer support are here to answer any questions and help you find your favorite coffee. We are proud of all our offerings and look forward to sharing these flavors with you! We love talking about coffee.