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The Coffee Roasting Basics

February 2023
The Coffee Roasting Basics

How to Roast Coffee Beans

To make your favorite caffeinated beverage, the coffee roasting basics start at the coffee plant. People have been making and drinking coffee for decades, but with the help of coffee roasting technology today, consumers often forget the delicacy of coffee fruit’s journey from the farm to a lovely cappuccino, latte, espresso, and more. While roasting coffee beans, each step dramatically impacts the final drink’s flavor profile and sometimes goes undetected until the final taste test. This article will explain how to dry green beans, provide an idea of how roasters develop their brown beans recipe, and give an understanding of what really goes into roasting coffee beans.

Drying Green Beans

Humans have been learning how to dry green beans for seed and drink for a long time. Coffee first grows from a small tree plant with little red fruit. Initially green, the coffee seeds sit inside of the fruit holding around 45-55% moisture when picked fresh from the tree. To bring the moisture down, two factors must be controlled: temperature and airflow. When drying, moisture s should fall to around 10-12%. Traditionally, green beans have been dried outdoors in the sun. Today, coffee roasting technology facilitates and specializes the process to a matter of minutes.

Browning Dried Beans

This is the stage roasters may begin experimenting and really develop the first part of their brown beans recipe. Heating begins here, and the Maillard reaction, as called in food science, occurs: sugars and amino acids concentrate as they heat up and create a uniquely coffee aroma and taste. Roasters watch for the reaction to start and control its duration to create the first layer of their flavor profile. To develop the flavor profile or experiment with a coffee bean’s qualities, a consistent brown beans recipe is crucial. Roasters use signals called ‘cracks’ to determine when to stop ‘cooking’ for a Maillard reaction and when to start roasting them to develop the flavor further.

Roasting Coffee Beans

Roasters watch the reaction by looking for the ‘first crack’. As caramelization occurs, the beans pop like kernels as they release a final burst of moisture. Normally sometime around the ‘second crack’, where even the oils are coming to the surface, roasters will take their beans off the heat depending on their specific desired flavor product. They might stop roasting earlier for a less sweet, more organic flavor or later for a sweeter, earthier flavor.

Testing and Tasting

Coffee roasting is like an experiment that must be copied exactly, step by step, to reproduce the same product with extreme consistency. In experimenting with new flavors even, there are many qualities to seek or avoid when roasting coffee beans. Roasters may produce a familiar favorite coffee roast where they must copy exact steps without change. Either way, any variation can impact the final flavor .

Qualities that are commonly avoided in coffee roasting are called ‘roast defects’ and at times can be identified by simply looking at the beans. Other times, defects are only found by cupping, or a sort of slurping the coffee quickly to aerate and cover your palate with the flavors at the same time.

Coffee technology has grown beyond the coffee roasting basics. Today, roasters experiment with coffee flavors in just minutes. With ease, coffee has become no less complex or flavorful. The process is still as intricate and customizable as ever, creating exciting opportunities for coffee-lovers to enjoy classic flavors while experimenting with new ones. All you need is to understand what really goes into roasting coffee beans.


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