Why is Roasting Coffee Important?
Coffee beans do not contain beans as its word claims. It is seeded from the fruit, which is similar to cherry. It is regarded as “beans” because of how they look and feel like conventional beans. The coffee bean in its raw state is green and looks to be finely fresh.
The fragrance and taste that are trapped inside green coffee beans are released when they are roasted. Beans are retained in a green state, which allows them to be stored without losing quality or flavor. Green beans don’t have the same qualities as roasted beans; they're mushy, spongy and smell grassy. Through the roasting procedure, roasted coffee can formulate various flavors in your cup of joe.
Roasting Coffee Beans
Coffee beans undergo a thorough transformation when they are roasted. This alters both the chemical and physical makeup of the bean, from the green bean to the shiny brown bean.
To extract the inherent flavors from the beans, coffee should be gone through the roasting process. Coffee roasting is a complex process that can be tailored to the preferences of the roaster. Roasters can adjust the temperatures and timeframes of their roasts to fulfill the demand of different flavor preferences.
Why is Roasting Important?
Coffee beans are developed seeds from coffee cherries. After that, they're processed and dried to become coffee beans. Coffee beans are green, and they have a grassy and earthy aroma before roasting. Green coffee beans, on the other hand, don’t smell like coffee as it is supposed to be.
We produce 800 to 1000 distinct fragrance molecules when we roast coffee. These compounds develop coffee to have various flavors. We can influence the presence of these aroma components in coffee and identify the coffee's flavor using roast profiling.
The beans are also subject to chemical changes when quickly heated up to extremely high temperatures. They are immediately cooled to end the process when they reach the pinnacle of perfection. Because the moisture has been removed, roasted beans have a coffee-like aroma and weigh lighter. They're crisp to the touch and ready to grind and brew. It is suggested to consume as soon as possible after roasting to preserve the fresh roast flavor.
Roasting Coffee Beans In Three Stages
In roasting, there are three primary stages that coffee beans must undergo. They are drying, browning, and development or roasting stage.
1. Drying Stage
Coffee bean’s humidity stays between 8% and 12%. Of course, beans need to be totally dried out before the real roast begins. This drying procedure typically lasts from 4 to 8 minutes in a classic drum roaster. Meanwhile, its temperature should approximately end at 160 ⁰C.
As a result, coffee roasters must always be watchful from start to finish — particularly when using drum roasters. Never use too much heat as it could burn the beans. Simply put, the drying stage is super critical because it preps the beans to gather energy evenly before the actual roasting time arrives.
2. Browning Stage
As the drying stage completes at 160 ⁰C, the beans’ aroma starts to feel like toasted bread. At this moment, the basic coffee scent is transforming into a pleasant fragrance. You may assume that the browning stage begins here, but in reality, the drying process continues during the browning stage. This event might surprise you, but it is real.
Meanwhile, the Maillard reaction makes the beans turn brown in the browning stage. Such chemical response reduces sugars and amino acids in beans, producing thousands of distinct fragrances and color complexity called melanoids. Also, this is when the roast gradually drops off for flavor improvement.
Once the browning stage finishes, coffee starts to pop, which refers to coffee first crack, and the development sign activates soon.
3. Development Or Roasting Stage
When the first crack starts presenting, the development stage begins. This final stage of the whole roasting process is called the development or roasting stage, also known as exothermic. The beans pop because they reserve the vitality accumulated during the drying and browning stages.
Development time happens when the desired coffee fragrance is obviously progressing. Moreover, the roast should be decelerated at this roasting stage to opt for the most satisfactory coffee roast level, flavor, and aroma. Otherwise, coffee beans might produce a sharp, smoky, and unpleasant flavor.
The development stage should account for 15% to 25% of the entire roast time as a rule of thumb. Of course, roasting time may slightly vary based on preferable notes and characteristics.
Realizing Your Roasting Types
Unroasted coffee beans are green and solid through the cherry process, carrying acidity, sweetness, and fragrance. The coffee flavor stays compact in the bean body, making it hard to break out; therefore, roasting can help extract all the coffee attributes out of its rock-hard crust. Coffee roasts are complicated as they come in 4 distinguished roasts, including light roast, medium roast, medium-dark roast, and dark roast. In addition, a lot of people may be confused that coffee with high caffeine tends to have robust flavors. On the contrary, light roast coffee contains the most caffeine among other roasts.
The first and fastest coffee roast that you get is a light roast because it takes several minutes to get this type of roast. As the coffee beans are quickly heated under extreme temperature in a short time, the coffee’s attributes have no room for an escape. Hence, the light roast coffee carries the highest level of acidity in its body. On top of that, the coffee beans at this level are light brown with no oily surface. Regarding flavors, the coffee is bright and vibrant.
Medium roast is known to have the most balanced flavors among other roasts. The medium roast has a dark brown body with notable flavors because it is heated longer than the light roast. Moreover, the coffee is heated long enough to let the acidity and fragrance spread out of its body, so it produces lower acidity. Generally, when the coffee is pressurized with intensive heating, its body containing sugar content will be caramelized. Hence, it creates delicate and well-balanced flavors.
The following coffee roast is at a medium-dark level in which the coffee looks glossy on the surface because little oils start to shine. Coffee development at this medium-dark level is regarded as a complete development as the coffee starts to break out of many attributes. Therefore, the medium-dark roast will have a bittersweet taste with notes of chocolate and caramel. Eventually, the coffee roast has a well-rounded and smoothly dark color profile.
Dark roast is the last coffee roasting level among the standard roasts. Coffee constructs rich charcoal flavors with a full-bodied profile at this level. The coffee contains low acidity as it is highly heated under high temperatures; however, it still holds the natural attributes tightly. For example, the Arabica dark roast will offer the heaviest coffee body along with delicate and woody flavors and aromas.