Coffee and its widespread involvement in our daily lives give us the boost we need throughout the day that helps us get by. Everyone has their perfect cup of coffee that contains certain ingredients, but the coffee bean is present throughout every cup. One thing that many people tend to forget is that the coffee bean in its natural state is not the bean that makes your coffee so enjoyable.
Before you can enjoy any coffee, you need to roast the coffee beans. We will look at why exactly you need to roast your coffee beans and what it actually does to make your coffee taste normal. Additionally, we will look at the general process of roasting coffee and how you can go about finding or creating the perfect roast for yourself.
Despite what trendy cafes and advertisements would have you believe, coffee does not grow like a dark bean in nature. In fact, the coffee plant is actually a red-colored fruit that looks similar to a berry in the wild. To get to the actual bean, the fruit must be removed from the plant a taken apart until the green bean is on its own.
While this is essentially a coffee bean, you would not want to drink or eat it. A coffee bean that has not been roasted tastes bitter and earthlike with no desirable flavors. However, once you roast the bean and it starts to look like the sark bean in all the pictures, it then becomes something very different. Roasting the coffee bean is what makes it edible and gives it the rich and dark flavor that many crave.
The process of roasting coffee is relatively simple, but it has unique effects on the coffee bean and the flavor that you will create. Just like roasting or heating many other objects, the excessive heat that is applied to the coffee bean removes the natural moisture that is stored in the bean. This makes it get larger and darker as the temperature causes the bean to caramelize like sugar.
Coffee beans undergo an internal series of chemical reactions that all work in harmony to give the signature flavor and smell of coffee that lets you know it is ready. Depending on how long you roast and store the beans, you can end up with different flavors and reactions that result in the different blends and flavors of the coffee produced.
Coffee roasting may seem like a guessing game, but there is quite a lot of patience and timing that goes into crafting the perfect bean. Professional coffee roasters have a scale of beans that goes from the almost raw green bean to a very dark and rich color that is used for stronger coffee. There are a few ways you can tell when your coffee is roasting properly when it begins to have that signature coffee smell and begins to look darker.
No matter how you go about roasting your beans, they will always start green and somewhat small. As the water begins to evaporate and the roasting begins, you will hear the hissing of water leaving and begin to see some mild smoke. After the initial water has left, it then comes down to the desired level of flavor and darkness you want form the beans. The longer you roast a bean, the darker it gets in color and stronger it gets in flavor.
As mentioned above, you can get a variety of roasts when you start to roast your coffee. The roasting you achieve is based on time and temperature that the beans spent roasting. When you first start the roast, you will begin to see the light brown color. This means the roasting is beginning, but you wouldn’t want to use these beans just yet.
As you get towards a light to medium brown, this is where most beans are roasted to for a nice body and mild sweetness. As you get towards the darker brown color, you can expect the beans to have a very strong smell and high level of sweetness. However, once the bean gets to be almost black, the sweetness disappears, and the general strength is lessened.
The great thing about coffee roasting is it is simple enough to try out at home with very little equipment. One way to try your own roast is to use a heated pan and roast the beans like popcorn. Get your green coffee beans and roast them at medium heat with plenty of air for the smoke to escape and a fan to remove the smoke. This method takes some time, but it allows you to see the beans actually develop and is similar to making popcorn.
You can also bake them in the oven by heating the oven somewhere between 350-425 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on your desired roast. The lower the temperature, the lighter the roast, and the opposite goes for higher temperatures. These are the cheapest and easiest ways to try roasting your own beans, but they are still fairly basic.
If you have a roasting machine, then this whole process can be much more precise. Using a machine designed for roasting will be significantly more accurate and consistent than trying to roast them by hand. However, this does come with the added price of owning such a specialized machine. Similar to a popcorn machine, these tools simply use hot air to get the beans roasted effectively.
When using a coffee roasting machine, it will most likely have various levels of roasting that you can choose from. These will all have different effects on your coffee and produce different flavored beans. To roast with these machines, all you will likely have to do is place the beans on the roasting surface and set it to your desired roasting level. This is definitely the easiest way to get perfect beans, but you have to consider how often you would use it before buying a unit.
If a pan is too boring and you don’t want to go out and invest in a full-blown roasting machine, there is another option. As we mentioned earlier, the general design of a bean roasting machine is very similar to that of a popcorn machine. Hot air is used to heat and roast the beans to your desired temperature. So why not use a popcorn machine to roast your beans?
As crazy as it sounds, many people actually use popcorn machines to roast their coffee beans. Get your air popper ready by letting it first heat up before using it. When it is ready, add in about a half cup of beans and wait. Similar to the stove method, you will need to monitor and watch the beans so they are cooked right. Let the beans “pop” to their desired darkness level and let them cool before putting them away. It may not be conventional, but it is certainly effective and saves you money!
Roasting coffee beans may not be the most fun or exciting process in the world, but it is certainly interesting. Finding the perfect roast for your needs by experimenting at home can save you some money by avoiding expensive gourmet beans and having your own personal roast.
From the ground to your cup, the coffee bean can take on many forms and gives you all sorts of flavors to try out and enjoy. Once you learn the art of roasting coffee, you’ll never want to buy another bag from the store again.