Question: How does roasting affect the coffee bean?

Just the facts, Ma’am . . . and pour me another cup while you’re at it.

How does roasting affect the coffee bean?

Roasting brings out the essence . . . the aroma, body, and flavor that is locked inside the green coffee beans.  The roasting process transforms the chemical and physical properties of the beans . . . and the different degrees of roasting produce characteristic taste profiles and different amounts of caffeine.

City Roast, Full City Roast, Vienna, Espresso, Italian, New Orleans, French . . . so many different roasts!  At the risk of over-generalizing . . . lighter roasts make for a brighter, more lively taste profile while darker roasts make for a sweeter, lower acidity coffee.  Drinkers who prefer a low level of acidity in their brew are steered toward a darker roast . . .  French roast being one of the more common choices for a low-acidity coffee. This comes with a caveat though, as many people do not like what they describe as the “burnt” or “oily” taste of a dark French roast.  Perhaps French roast is an acquired taste.  Or maybe people have just gotten used to buying it as they equate dark roast with a more-refined coffee choice.

You may come across those people who are misled by the misguided notion that Dark Roast is “better.”  If you like dark roast, enjoy.  If you don’t like a dark roast, don’t feel like a wimp.  You will not be judged by the Secret Society of Coffee Snobs — not on my watch.  Feel safe with this knowledge.  If some French Roaster looks over his or her coffee cup at you drinking your light and lively cup of city roast, share with him or her that you prefer a brighter, higher acidity level in your coffee.  You can also add that your lighter roast contains more caffeine than their French roast.  This should stop any Snob from further judgment.

Of course, there are all manner and degree of roasts in between on the spectrum of light, medium, and dark.  Coffee beans contain oils that include some 600 chemical substances.  When the beans are roasted, the beans expand and, as a result, lose moisture.  The beans’ aroma comes alive and the oils give the beans a shiny appearance – especially in the darker roasts.

A light roast (Light City, Half City, Cinnamon Roast) have a light body with a detectable acidity.  This roast is often described as being “bright” or “lively.”  Drinking light-roast coffee is a personal choice and should not be an invitation to judgment.  All of you snobs, be nice.  Coffee should be fun and others should be allowed to drink cinnamon roast without being called wimps.

Medium roasts (commonly called Breakfast Blends) are generally considered to The Middle of the Road when it comes to drinking coffee.  This roast has more body than light roast beans and are more balanced in the areas of flavor, aroma, and acidity.  If you don’t know what roast of coffee bean to bring to your future in-laws for the weekend, bring a medium roast.  There is nothing wrong with going down the middle of the road on this topic.

A dark roast (Italian, espresso, French, continental, New Orleans) is dark brown in color and has a sheen of oil on the surface of the bean.  It is believed that the bean’s point of origin is disguised as a result of darker roasting.  With some dark roasts, you may taste a smoky, or even burnt, flavor.  And remember that the amount of caffeine is decreased as a result of added roasting.   While not being a French-roast drinker, I do like a darker roast myself and do not mind giving up some of the caffeine for this taste profile.

In the early days, the green coffee beans were roasted in a heavy pan over the fire.  Nowadays, coffee is roasted in a roasting factory– some small and some ginormous – generally in the country in which the coffee is going to be consumed.

It takes so little equipment and time to roast your own coffee.  I am wondering why no one has shared this information with me before.  After watching the videos below, I am ready to arm myself with this simple equipment and roast my own beans.  I love this kind of thing.

There are so many cool facts about this humble and elegant drink.  One little bit of information leads to another interesting tidbit.  I am thinking about taste profiles, aged beans, acidity, food pairings . . . you name it!  So much to know.  So much fun to learn.

Here is a super informative video that takes you on a Color Journey of Coffee Roasting.  It’s only 4:23 long and worth watching.  It also will help you understand why you prefer the roast that you do, as it discusses taste profile with different stages of roasting.  Cool!

And how about this idea of roasting coffee beans in a popcorn popper?  Fun!  It is a recommended method for getting started with home roasting.  If you’re like me and like to experiment with new ideas and learn about how things work, I am thinking it would be a fun taste treat to try this.  It literally takes minutes to have your coffee fresh-roasted each morning.  Wow!  What a fun thing to do on the weekend for your Monday morning coffee!  [P.S.  According to other research I did, shoot for a popper with a minimum of 1250 watts.]

Here is the Popcorn Pumper that he talks about lasting a long time in the video.  It has the recommended 1250 watts.

Proctor-silex Hot Air Popcorn Pumper 5 Quart

http://amzn.to/28TUWZe

. . . and here is a real-deal coffee roaster if you don’t want to mess with the popcorn popper:

FreshRoast SR500 Automatic Coffee Bean Roaster

http://amzn.to/28MgkSh

Papua New Guinea Organic Wild-grown Unroasted Green Coffee Beans (1 LB)

http://amzn.to/28PkmIX

Home Coffee Roasting, Revised, Updated Edition: Romance and Revival

http://amzn.to/28MiAsU

Bellemain Micro-perforated Stainless Steel 5-quart Colander-Dishwasher Safe

http://amzn.to/28OaluO

And this?  I want!
Lodge Cast-Iron Skillet L10SK3ASHH41B, 12-Inch

http://amzn.to/28Nb8yy

Whew!  What started out as a simple question has my mind spinning.  There is no short answer as coffee roasting is a complex and fun science that brings to us such a miraculous beverage.  Experiment with some green beans and leave a comment, reporting to us your roasting results!  Fun, fun, fun!

Life is a lively event.  Roast up some beans, drink coffee, and get to it.

What’s stopping you?

[Just the facts, Ma’am is inspired by and extracted from personal experience and research, informative youtube videos, and “All About Coffee Knowledge Cards” – published by Pomegranate Communications, Inc.]

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