Basic facts about coffee roasters, sense, nonsense, roasted coffee beans, home roasting, even antique coffee roasters
Here's an amazing flash of the obvious - coffee is best fresh!
Coffee roasters usually ply their trade before the beans are sold. Hence roasted coffee beans have already started on a process of the oils and flavor compounds breaking down. The flavor gradually gets less full and more bitter. This degrading process takes place far more quickly once the beans are ground, so unless you are a real "coffeeholic" and intend using great quantities, grinding at home could be a good option to think about.
The coffee roasters process also influences the taste of the final product, and even adds its own flavor. So despite the fact that beans grown in different parts of the world and different climatic conditions have unique flavors, it is possible to fool wannabe "afficionados" when the roasting takes place.
To achieve a fuller flavor and less acidic taste it is possible to allow green beans to age before roasting. The typical length of time is 3 years, though some could be aged as long as 7 years. This is beginning to sound like some good red wine, another of my passions :-)
Todays chemistry lesson:
When the coffee bean roasts, there is a chemical reaction. The roasted coffee beans start to change character. The longer the beans remain in the coffee roasters, the more the chemicals change their character. The action of the coffee roasters elicits that special taste from what otherwise appears to be a rather inconspicuous bean. Unroasted beans have all the chemical constituents of the finished product, but none of its flavor.
It is only once heat is applied that the reactions start, which convert the carbohydrates and fats into aromatic oils. The moisture and carbon dioxide start to burn off, setting free the characteristic coffee flavor we have come to love so much. The essence of the coffee bean is seen as the oils. These are oils in that they float, however, they are also water soluble, which really makes them not an oil. Regulating the roasting procedure makes more or less of the coffee oil for any given coffee bean. This chemical process also makes the bean brittle, which in turn makes it easier to grind. Here ends the chemistry lesson.
After chemistry comes the fun:
Adjusting the length of roasting time enables the coffee roaster to create the many different coffee types (roasts) that we hear about. The basic concept is that the less time the beans are roasted (lighter roast) the more of the natural coffee bean flavor remains. Conversely, the longer they are roasted (darker roast) the more the method of roasting takes over from the natural bean flavor. The interesting point is that the degree of roast does not affect the caffeine level of the coffee.
Different styles of coffee roasters took on different names, and many of these names tended to reflect the country in which this roast was prevalent. As time went on, even cities started to lend their names to roasts. So today we find these better known roast names and some maybe not so well known. We will list some of these as simply as possible.
- American Roast – medium brown in color, also known as Medium Roast or Brown Roast.
- Continental Roast – better known as Italian.
- European Roast – essentially the same as Continental.
- French Roast – darker brown with an oily surface. Somewhat bittersweet. Also called Dark Roast.
- Italian Roast – the next level up from French, sometimes called Darkest Roast. Also known as Espresso Roast, it now tastes of roast only and little if anything of the bean.
- Neapolitan Roast – very dark nearly black and bittersweet, also called Dark French or Heavy.
- Spanish Roast – strong, also known as Full-city and sometimes called After-dinner.
Would YOU like to give YOUR friends something new to talk about? Why not revive the lost art of home fresh roasted coffee beans?
Home roasted coffee beans.
Go to our Home Coffee Roaster page
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