Of all the processing that coffee undergoes, the fastest and most critical is roasting.
The task of coffee roasting 101 is a huge responsibility because, in a matter of minutes, beans that have cost hundreds of people time, energy, and money can be totally ruined due to lack of knowledge or care.
Roasting is an art that requires years of practice before it is fully mastered. Furthermore, it can only be learned by trial and error, and it can only be learned at the cost of many mistakes.
This article will introduce you to the best coffee roasting techniques and tell you everything you need to know about coffee roasting 101.
What is roasting 101?
The main purpose of roasting 101 is to develop the aroma of coffee through complex chemical changes caused by heat, a process called pyrolysis.
It is estimated that a coffee bean contains more than 2,000 chemicals, which can be broken down or transformed by roasting into hundreds of “volatile aromatic compounds”. The various acids, oils, proteins, vitamins, sugars, starches, and caffeine are altered, some are strengthened, others are reduced. In some cases, some substances develop and then burn out if the roasting is prolonged.
A light roast is rare because it reveals all the flaws in the bean, while a more sustained roast will make most of them disappear or hide. For example, if coffee has the distinctive, sometimes unusual but always pleasant and spicy qualities of a tall Arabica, it is best not to over-roast it.
The darker the roast, the more the coffee taste, the taste buds no longer have the ability to distinguish their particular qualities. Prolonged roasting can sweeten some coffees, but up to a point – there is always a point where all coffee turns bitter. In addition, the more the coffee is roasted, the more it loses its acidity, that quality so sought after.
Depending on the state of the beans and the degree of roast desired, the coffee is roasted at temperatures between 200° C to 240° C, with an approximation of 20° C. Many roasters have means of ventilation that, like forced heat ovens, accelerate the cooking of the grains.
During coffee roasting 101, which typically lasts 8-20 minutes on a traditional heat burner, the beans absorb more and more heat and gradually turn a greenish-yellow, then golden, and brown hue.
What are the different degrees of roast?
There is no international standard definition for different degrees of coffee roasting 101. “Light”, “medium” and “dark” are the most used terms, considering that coffee rarely undergoes a very light roast and there are all kinds of nuances in medium or dark roasts.
This roast only refers to Arabicas of very good quality or altitude. Ideal for breakfast coffees, whose acidity will be softened with a little milk or cream.
The American version of this roast, “cinnamon”, evokes the color of the spice of the same name. It is high in acidity and low in the body.
It is the most common roast in the industry. As dark as possible without an oily surface.
This roast has a dark brown color, close to chocolate.
The coffee is very dark brown in color and occasionally shows some superficial oily traces.
Almost black roasted and very oily, with a more roasted taste than coffee. In the United States, it is darker than in Italy, but the beans should never be charred.
The last word
Even if there was universal agreement on the meaning of the above terms, there would still be no consensus on the ideal degree of roast for each coffee.
In fact, in many other countries, the purpose of coffee roasting 101 is to give a pleasant and balanced flavor to the coffee, even if it means removing its most distinctive and original aromas.