Most of us are familiar with what roasted coffee looks like. We have seen the baristas emptying a bag full into their grinder hopper in order to make our lattes and cappuccinos. However not so much is known about how the beans go from there green lifeless form to the roasted coffee we all love.
The roasting process is one of the most exciting and interesting processes in the whole coffee industry. In this process, a dull and lifeless looking green bean, which has no desirable flavours is transformed into a brown bean with astonishing amounts of tastes and aromas.
The way a coffee is roasted can have a big impact on the taste and flavour notes. For example, the same coffee can be roasted to taste grassy, sour, baked, chocolaty, full-bodied, mellow, bitter, sweet, or even ashy and charred. There are much more, but I think that’s enough for one minute!
There is a wide range of different roasts available in the UK ranging from light roasts (very light brown, with a dry surface) all the way through to a very dark Vienna roast (Very dark brown/ almost black with a very oily surface.
A lighter roast will be brighter in taste and display characteristics of its origin, hints of fruit, citrus spice and many more. However, if you roast too light, the bean can end up underdeveloped which will result in unpleasant grassy, hoppy and hay type flavours in the coffee. A darker roast will taste more like dark chocolate, caramel as well as some roasted flavours such as ash. This cup will taste a lot more bitter than a lighter roast as well as having a much fuller body (mouthfeel).
There are a few different types of roasters that can be used to roast coffee but the most common roasting machine I believe is the drum roaster. The drum roaster is essentially a gas-fired rotating drum which is preheated to 200 degrees centigrade before adding the green beans. The drum continuously rotates and tumbles the beans throughout the roast cycle to ensure a consistent roast. The whole process takes approximately 10-20 minutes depending on the style of roast you want, the beans you are using, the beans moisture content, batch size and the roaster itself. The beans will be removed from the roaster just before they have reached the exact state the roaster is looking for, and are cooled quickly on a fan powered or water-based cooling tray. During the cooling, the beans are stirred with a mechanical paddle to stop the roasting process.
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