The Process of Coffee Roasting
Coffee plants can grow anywhere from five to seven feet tall and produce a plump, circular coffee cherry. Each coffee cherry usually contains two beans. Coffee producers typically hand pick the coffee cherries and export the coffee beans before they are roasted. These green beans can be kept without sacrificing quality or taste.
How Does Coffee Roasting Work?
So how does coffee roasting work? The best coffee roasters have extensive experience that gives them the ability to think fast on their feet during the coffee roasting process.
While there are a variety of different roasting methods, the most common use either drum or hot air machines, although, packed-bed, tangential, and centrifugal roasters are sometimes used as well.
In a drum roaster, coffee beans are packed into a drum or cylinder-shaped compartment which rests sideways. The drum spins in a circle while gas, electricity, or an open flame heat the beans from underneath.
A hot-air coffee roaster forces hot air through a screen underneath the coffee beans so that heat is transferred throughout. The roasted beans are then cooled in a process known as quenching. The cooled beans are packaged immediately in bags which allow for degassing. They are then shipped to stores to be sold.
Types of Coffee Roasts
Many coffee roasters give specific names to the roasted beans, depending on the time roasted and the color turned afterward. While there is very little industry standardization in coffee roasting, there are some similar characteristics in different types of roasts.
Light Roast Coffee
Light roasts aim to balance the bean's flavor and characteristics which are determined by its geographic region. They are often lighter in color and preferred by those who like a more mild flavor, however, the origin of the beans is most distinct when lightly roasted. These coffee beans are not roasted long enough for the oils of the beans to break to the surface, so they will not feel oily to the touch. Cinnamon, Light City and Half City roasts are all considered light roast as they are lighter-bodied with higher acidity levels.
Medium Roast Coffee
Medium coffee also aims to balance the flavor of the region. Featuring the same non-oily characteristics as light roast coffee, medium roast typically presents with a stronger flavor profile. It is often referred to as “American” roast because it is most commonly preferred in the United States. City and Breakfast roasts are also medium blends of coffee.
Dark Roast Coffee
Dark roast coffee spends the most time roasting. Because of the extended time in heat, dark roast beans feature a slightly oily surface. The flavor of dark roast coffee is the hallmark, bitter flavor that people typically associate with coffee. There are a variety of names for dark roast coffee, most of which are used interchangeably, including Spanish, Italian, and Continental. Because of the transitional nature of the names, you want to be sure to check your beans when buying from somewhere new – dark roast coffee can range anywhere from slightly darkened to completely charred.
How Coffee Roasting Affects Flavor
Different styles of coffee roasting can change the flavor of the end result. If you prefer a more mild coffee, the light roast is for you. If you love the full bodied, bitter taste of a charred bean, you want a dark roast. Coffee roasts also affect the level of acidity, caffeine, and more. The best way to find out what coffee roast satisfies your preferences and needs is to try different cups. If you don't want to roast them yourself, you can find many specialty roasters in your area where you can buy small bags of different roasts to see what you like best.
Better yet, Redcup Beverage Service offers workplace coffee solutions in every roast style so you never have to worry about not having your favorite coffee in the office. Get in touch with us to schedule a coffee tasting for your office.