Why Are Coffee Beans Roasted?
You know that sweet, roasted aroma that fills your nostrils and excites your brain when coffee is near? How does that happen? How does each one have a distinct smell or taste that has a different effect on you?
It’s not the magic of just coffee; it’s actually the magic of roasting coffee beans. It takes special skills and attention to get the right smell, taste or consistency.
So, why are coffee beans roasted? The answer is simple- to release each beans special flavour. The green coffee beans can also be used for regular coffee basically, but you will miss the appealing and distinct taste that happens during the roasting.
If you really love coffee, you will always appreciate and know the taste of one coffee from the next. No two pots of coffee are brewed the same.
There is a science to roasting coffee beans and coffee enthusiasts can drown you in the techniques, recipes and all the new flavours.
Coffee beans are roasted on different scales. From the large scale production factory houses to speciality shops that serve a house blend to roasted-at-home beans, there are a lot of factors that go into consideration when roasting coffee.
But what exactly is the process of roasting?
Whether you are a newbie to coffee roasting or an expert, there are essentials to master so that you get the best out of your coffee beans. The basic process of roasting coffee beans is easy to master.
All you need is the green coffee beans, place them in an oven or a special coffee roaster and simply roast them till they turn a shade of brown that you’re happy with.
You can also use much simpler methods to roast beans at home, and many people will use a skillet or even a wok to get the same result.
Simple, right? Exactly. However, there are pros who pay special attention to their roasting machine, the temperature they will roast at, the time it takes to roast and the kind of beans they use; these are the hard-core roasters.
When you roast coffee, there are steps that the beans undergo. The first step is the yellowing, then the steam and then the first crack when the coffee beans let out its first aroma.
After this, the beans slowly start to darken with time and this is when you have to watch it closely so that it doesn’t burn.
It goes from a very light brown to other shades of brown till the darkest. Among the professional roasters, these various stages of browning have different names such as Cinnamon roast, City Roast, American Roast, Italian Roast and others.
Types of Roasts
These roasts are also categorised into Unroasted, Light Roast, Medium Roast and Dark Roast. Knowing these different roast stages helps you control the flavour of your beans and understand the different flavours of the different roasts.
Roasting Beans at Home
Now, if you want to roast your own coffee at home, it is very simple. All you need is a bag of unroasted green coffee beans and a kind of oven to roast your beans. This can be a specialised coffee roaster, a popcorn popper machine or even on your stove top.
Place the beans in your heating equipment and slowly monitor the beans as they change colour. Don’t forget to pay attention to the sounds and smells that come out of the beans as they roast. Roasting machines usually have inbuilt timers and sounds to help guide your roasting process.
I have done a full guide on the many methods of roasting beans at home, which you can read by clicking here.
Another point to note is that, depending on the roast blend you are going for, use three of the five senses to appreciate the beans as they cook.
Use your eyes, ears, and nose, and don't use your fingers and tongue to determine if your beans are done or not. Roasted beans get mighty hot, so be really careful as they burn big time!
Professional & Commercial Roasting Processes
The video below shows the purpose of the roasting process as done by professionals.
When you roast coffee beans more often, you will start to notice the different tastes, aromas and even colours that occur. You will be able to tell what taste goes with what colour and what sound. At the end, you will always know when your coffee beans are perfectly roasted.
So, the next time you hold a cup of coffee in your hands, don’t forget to stop, smell and appreciate the coffee in your cup. Smell the aroma, taste the beans, look at the colour and take the time to take it all in.
Coffee is more than a "pick-me-up" in the morning; there is a fine art that goes into making the perfect coffee that should always be recognized. When you start roasting your own coffee, you will join the club of master roasters.
I have done this a few times myself at home and it was a fun thing to learn and also to do. However for me anyway the effort and time involved is simply too much, when you have other more important things to do.
It is worth a try though if you have never done it before, and you can learn quite a lot about coffee tastes, simply by roasting your own beans at home.