A Primer on Roasting Coffee

Eidolonai November 17, 2017
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Each and every day millions of cups of coffee and espresso drinks are served to coffee fanatics whom may not think twice about the origins of the coffee beans used to produce those drinks. How did the beans come to be and what part of the world did they come from, and how did they produce this fantastic drink that I’m consuming? These are all great questions and ones that should be asked more often by people that otherwise might take such things for granted. The answers to these questions are quite simple on the surface, but take on a certain level of complexity when examined more carefully. After all, coffee beans originate from all parts of the world as seeds of coffee cherries – the name used to describe the berry-like fruit that grows on a coffee tree. While this sounds simple enough, the processes used to turn those seeds into a consumable beverage are rather complicated. For the laymen, the following article will serve to quickly detail the process that beans go through before they are ground and infused with water to make our favorite drinks.

Getting to the “Beans”

As mentioned above, what most people commonly refer to as “coffee beans” are actually seeds that originate within a small fruit. In order to expose the seeds, the outer pulp must be removed from the seeds, which is typically accomplished using one of two methods – the wet or dry method. Wet processing serves to remove the pulp from the seeds before they are dried through various methods while dry processing involves drying of the entire coffee cherry including the seed contained within. While there is no hard and fast rule regarding which method to use for an individual bean, it’s important to know that the method chosen can have a significant impact on the flavors exhibited by the roasted bean.

Turning Green Beans Brown

Once the outer pulp has been removed, exposing the green bean within, the beans are cleaned, sorted polished and graded into distinct lots. At this point the grower may decide to age or even decaffeinate the beans before roasting. Once these final decisions have been made the beans are ready for the roasting process where they will be chemically transformed into the familiar roasted coffee bean. Without the roasting process, the green coffee beans would essentially be flavorless or at the very least, would taste very poorly. The roasting process brings out the individual flavor characteristics of a particular bean so that they can be enjoyed by the end consumer. The decision to roast will only be made when the beans are ready to be used for brewing coffee, since roasted beans cannot be stored for long periods of time without becoming stale.

The roasting process itself can take anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes at temperatures ranging between 370-500F. There are various methods used to provide the heat used in the roasting process, and this article will not detail these methods. The important thing to note is that all beans should be roasted according to a roast “profile,” which is a technical term for a recipe. The roast profile describes the specific temperatures used to produce the final product, and can have a substantial impact on the outcome. During the actual roasting process the beans will become larger in size and will slowly turn from green to golden-yellow to brown, and even to dark brown depending on the roast level desired. Typically, most commercial roasters in the United States (Starbucks, Peets, etc.) tend to roast their beans to French Roast, which is considered to be very dark. While this affords the roaster some level of repeatability, it also greatly diminishes the individual characteristics and flavor nuances of various types of beans. For this reason, many coffee aficionados roast to somewhat less than this, so that they can enjoy the subtleties provided by their favorite small coffee maker.

Hopefully this article has helped to clear up some of the confusion surrounding the coffee roasting process and will make you think twice about the origins of your coffee beans. For more information and basic tips regarding the best small coffee makers and coffee accessories, please visit http://bestsmallcoffeemaker.com

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