Ah, roasting, one of the most important aspects when it comes to coffee taste and aroma. The whole process can truly make a great coffee, or ruin it. Nowadays you can find home coffee roasters that allow you to experiment and find the perfect balance you are looking for.
But now let’s move on to the basics, let’s explain how roasting works, why it affects the coffee so much and to finish, some ways you can do it.
The Process of Roasting
As we stated above, roasting plays an important role when trying to deliver an amazing cup of coffee. This process is truly a form of art and most say that this plays as big of a role as the very origin of the bean.
Let us now explain the process, step by step, so we can learn what truly makes roasting special and why each step is important.
Step 1: Drying the coffee beans
Once we get the coffee beans, we need to actually dry them out, eliminating the humidity that is kept within. This process usually is really fast, taking up to 8 minutes.
This step is delicate, however, since extending it too much can actually burn the bean, this is because the temperature inside the roaster can reach up to 320°F or 160°C, therefore, prolonged exposure will completely ruin the coffee.
Step 2: The Browning of the coffee beans
This step comes right after drying, you could say it’s a continuation because the beans keep drying throughout this step. It is in this stage that the true aromas of the coffee come to the surface and transform into what we love. This step is not as fast as the Drying step, in fact, it has to be slower, way slower, since this will fill the coffee beans with different flavors and aromas, allowing those to truly develop. At the end of this stage, there is something called the first crack, where the coffee beans pop and it represents the beginning of the third and final stage.
Step 3: Development stage
Once the coffee starts cracking, it will start releasing all the accumulated heat from the previous stages, in fact, this heat is what makes it crack in the first place. It is in this stage that the coffee reaches the desired aroma and taste, also it is really important to control the roasting in this step. The final roast will define a lot of the flavors, therefore not being careful in this step will ruin the what we are trying to achieve. Usually, this last stage represents 20% of the total roasting time, depending on what kind of flavors we are aiming for and of course the duration of the previous stages.
Now that the roast is complete, we have to judge the process and this is called “Roast Degree” where, by color o by taste, you can get a measurement. Darker roasts tend to be bitter and lighter roasts tend to have an acidic taste instead, so the degree can actually tell us a lot about what we get with each bean. Now that we have the roast degree explained, we can probably find what we like the best out of our coffee, and roast accordingly.
Your roast, your rules
Now that we know how it works, sure we want to try it. Getting a coffee roaster for home nowadays is not as hard as it used to be, and it’s actually a really fun process. Maybe it’s more tedious than simply buying the coffee ready to brew but it allows you to have whatever you like the best and to experiment.
Chances are that as a new roastmaster, you will burn some beans on your first tries. But do not worry, keep trying and improving until you find that taste you are looking for. Overall, our best advice is to experiment, to try different blends and different roast times with different degrees, once you find what you really want in your coffee, work on perfecting it.
To wrap it up, we mention what kind of roasters you can find out there. The most common is the drum roaster, which will have a really high temperature at the beginning so we have to be careful, as it may burn the coffee if we don’t control said temperature. Another kind of roaster is the fluidized bed roaster, but usually, these ones are used for industrial purposes and you will most likely be roasting with a drum one.
The drum roaster will heat directly from below from a flame or electric resistance, while the bed roaster uses hot air to indirectly roast the coffee. You can also find Loring roasters which are drum roasters but use hot air like the bed ones.
Just remember, roasting is a delicate process that can truly make or destroy a cup of coffee, and you should find whatever you like the best. The best part of roasting your own coffee is how fun it is and how much control you will have over your favorite beverage, so start roasting, and become your own roastmaster.