The Basics of Coffee Roasting for a Better Taste
Updated: Oct 21
Are you looking for that perfect flavor in your morning brew? Are you having difficulty figuring out why your at-home coffee isn’t tasting as it should?
You might have the right method down, but you aren’t doing other key steps depending on the roast that you’re using.
It takes time to find a solution. The more you research and apply what you find, the better your coffee experience will be. Sometimes the basics are all you need to serve as a fresh reminder.
Here are the basics of coffee roasting and how you can obtain a better taste for each cup you brew.
1. The Three Roasting Stages
While two of the three roasting stages occur before you buy beans from the store, it’s still important for you to know them.
Understanding the entire process will help you know how to brew coffee beans in their final stage.
In that order, the three roasting stages are the drying stage, browning stage, and roasting stage.
First, you have the drying stage. Since coffee beans are naturally humid, it takes drying them at 160° Celcius for 6 to 8 minutes to remove that humidity and have them as dry as possible.
However, the drying doesn’t stop there. It continues into the second stage, the “browning” stage.
This stage focuses on increasing the flavor of the bean. The focus is to reduce sugars and start a chemical reaction within the bean to get different flavors. The flavor and aroma you love come out during the browning stage.
Lastly, there’s the roasting stage. As the name would imply, this stage focuses on creating an exothermic reaction with heat. The heat will cause dry beans to crack and add the flavor to the cup of coffee you’re looking for.
2. Understand the Different Roasts
There are several different roasts of coffee, and knowing them is the key to unlocking your coffee’s true flavor potential.
Every coffee bean will fall into one of these four coffee roast categories. Use that as your guide on how to properly prepare the roast.
For dark roasts, you can expect a cup of coffee containing far less acidity, as it has been removed from the bean during a high drying stage. These give off a slightly “burnt” flavor that coffee drinkers love or hate.
Coffee blends such as European, Espresso, French, Continental, and Italian all fall under the dark roast category.
Medium-dark roasts are next, and they will feature dark colors with a complex taste that coffee drinkers love.
That’s a credit to the subtle amount of oil left on the coffee bean and gives it the bittersweet taste that most coffee users are accustomed to. It also gives a bittersweet aroma as you grind the coffee beans.
You can look forward to the closest thing to a mixture between light and dark roasts for those of you with medium roast coffee. If Goldilocks were a coffee drinker, this is probably the roast she’d choose.
It contains the strong flavor coffee fanatics search for, especially in America, and features almost zero oil on the coffee bean itself. For those who enjoy a breakfast blend, American blend, or city blend, you prefer a medium roast.
Last but not least, there are light roast coffees. These will hold no oil on the bean's surface because it’s still on the inside. Light roasts aren’t brought to a high enough heat to cause the bean to crack.
If you find yourself more partial to cinnamon blends, light city blends, or half city blends, those fall into the light roast description.
3. Roast for the Right Amount of Time
The term “timing is everything” certainly applies to roasting coffee. Roasting coffee differs from cooking because speeding up the process will be more beneficial.
With fast roasting, you can acquire a stronger aroma and bring out all the flavors of your roast.
However, there are some blends you don’t want to bring out the full flavor. If you’re roasting an espresso blend, you want to keep the acidity to a minimum.
If you’ve found it hard to enjoy your coffee lately due to the high acidity, try slowing down your roasting process.
Try speeding the roasting process up a bit for those experiencing coffee with far less taste than you desire.
Your coffee taste might also be suffering from the coffee roaster you have for your blends. If you’ve ever wondered why you can’t achieve the same taste of your favorite blend that they do in the coffee shop, that’s probably why.
While some people may hesitate to purchase a coffee roaster at a higher price point, it will be worth the investment.
Not only will the coffee roaster last longer than cheaper versions, it will also produce the perfect cup of coffee for whatever roast you’re using.
Perfect Your Coffee Roasting With These Tips
Now that you’ve seen the several aspects of coffee roasting to consider, it’s time to perfect your coffee roasting technique.
How you’re grinding your coffee might also be a factor in the less-than-ideal taste of your coffee. Read this article on why you should make your ground coffee.
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