What is Coffee Roasting?

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Roasting coffee is another important step that the coffee bean goes through until it reaches our cup in the form of a magic liquid.

Here the skill and preparation of the roaster make the difference, and good coffee can become exceptional if it is highlighted by a skilled roaster, but the reverse of the medal is also valid, and an exceptional coffee can be poorly roasted and not come out good.

But what makes the difference between an exceptional and a mediocre coffee? Obviously, it depends a lot on the aromatics incorporated in the coffee bean.

But the roaster is also a very important piece of the puzzle of a good coffee, and he must highlight as well as possible the qualities of the bean by roasting.

The stages of roasting coffee

Let’s start with the beginning. The coffee beans are transformed by roasting, changing their size, smoothing, and acquiring various flavors, but to get there they have to go through several stages, from green coffee to the status of roasted coffee.

Green beans – Before roasting, the coffee beans are green, with a vegetable aroma.

Drying stage – the first stage of frying is the drying stage. Now the berries turn yellow to light 

brown, the water evaporates, and the acids react and decompose, then the vegetable taste of the beans disappears. At this stage, the coffee beans smell of popcorn or toast and wither as the color changes.

High pressure  – As the water in the grain heats up, the pressure in the structure increases, and the color intensifies. Some beans turn brown and appear already done, but will lighten in the next stages when they crack.

The first crack – The force of the steam finally causes the cell structure to break through a sound similar to the crack of popcorn. Now the grain grows in size, becomes smoother on the surface and uniform in color, and begins to smell coffee. 1-2 minutes after the first crack, the roasting stops for the coffee intended for the filter or the French press.

Frying stage  – Sugars, acids, and compounds react, producing various flavors. The acids break down, the sugars go to caramelized state, and the cell structure weakens and dries.

Second bang – At some point, there will be a second bang, caused by the pressure inside the coffee bean, and the oil will reach the surface of the bean. Many espresso coffees are roasted until, or a little after, the second crack.

After the second crack – The beans still have a little of the original flavor of the coffee. It will be covered in a bitter, fried taste. Once on the surface, the oil oxidizes the coffee bean, which quickly acquires a harsh aroma.

All these steps may seem complicated at first, but they become very easy to understand once you associate them with the degree of roasting of the coffee.

Coffee roasts 

Simply put, roasters can be classified into three broad categories: roasting light (Light Roast), frying medium (Medium Roast), and roasting intense (Dark Roast). But given the fact that in reality, the temperature/time range for these 3 types of frying is quite wide, the classification used by toasters in determining the type of frying is grouped as follows: Cinnamon, Light, City, Full City +, Viennese and French.

  • degrees of roasting coffee

The difference in taste between the degrees of frying

It is good to know the degree of roasting because it will give us from the beginning certain information about the taste of the coffee we are going to enjoy. It will have a grassy, rooty taste (light frying), will have a complex taste, with fruity, floral, or chocolate notes (medium frying), or will have an intense, piercing taste (intense frying).

In the specialty coffee industry, the standard is a medium roast, with small variations between roasters, so this detail is not even mentioned on the packaging, but as in any field and especially in fields in which taste is key, extremes and superlatives are to be avoided in order to have complexity and diversity.

What type of frying is ideal for the chosen method of preparation

As I mentioned earlier, for specialty coffee the norm is medium roasting, but how does the method of coffee preparation (filter, espresso, etc.) influence the degree of roasting of the coffee that a coffee roaster considers?

Some roasters state the following:

Mugur Tureschi: “The average roasting is the optimal one, from my point of view, as long as a uniform development is observed, the color of the coffee bean must be uniform from the outside to the inside, without gradient. This degree of frying can be approached for several methods of preparation, the notes of taste and flavors being retained and abundantly developed in the bean. “

Andrei Bolocan: “The type of roasting is chosen mainly according to the taste and method of preparation, and less depending on the coffee (origin). If you want an aromatic, fruity, or floral coffee, without strong chocolate notes, a light-medium roasting (City) is preferable. Also suitable for the flavored kettle, filter, or espresso. If you want a more intense coffee, with chocolate notes, and preferably prepared as an espresso, you can opt for a Full City roast. ”

Of course, as we expect, the coffee tasting universe being so vast, there is not a single way to roast coffee, but it is very much about what the roaster seeks to highlight from the notes of coffee.

And in the end, it is very important for each of us to experiment and taste as many types of specialty coffees as possible and to build our personal library of taste.