An in-depth look at the process and its impact on taste.
Welcome, fellow coffee aficionados! Today, we’re embarking on an exciting journey into the heart of the coffee world, delving deep into the art of roasting. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the intricate process of transforming humble green beans into aromatic and flavourful treasures, ready to be brewed into your morning cup.
We’ll examine the various stages of roasting, the impact of different roast profiles on the flavour and complexity of the final cup, and the delicate balance of science and artistry that defines this age-old craft. So, grab your favourite mug, get comfy, and join us as we unlock the secrets of coffee roasting.
What is Coffee Roasting?
Coffee roasting is the process of heating green coffee beans to a high temperature and then allowing them to develop their distinct characteristics. Coffee roasting is an integral step in producing the beloved cup of joe we know and love. It involves physical and chemical modifications to the beans that significantly influence flavour and aroma.
To guarantee consistent roasting results, it’s essential to properly prepare your beans and use a reliable roaster. Be sure the beans are uniform in size and colour – the more even these characteristics are, the smoother your roast will be.
Once your beans have roasted, it is essential to take them away from the heat and cool them quickly. There are several ways to do this, such as placing them on a cookie sheet or swishing them between two metal colanders. Doing so will allow the beans to cool quickly while also eliminating any chaff (the outer shell that was shed during roasting).
Another option is to spread your beans out on baking paper to protect the plastic coating from melting in the oven. While this method won’t remove as much chaff, it will allow you to keep your beans longer without exposing them to too much heat. Once your beans have cooled, store them in an airtight container until you’re ready to enjoy them. You can also freeze roasted coffee to extend its shelf life. However, keep in mind that freezing will not stop oxidation and thus may lose some of its flavour and aroma.
Quality, freshly roasted coffee is an irresistible treat for anyone. Not only does it start your day off right, but it will give you energy throughout the day as well. Once you understand the fundamentals of coffee roasting, you can experiment with various bean varieties and blends. With each new experience comes an increased appreciation for what makes each coffee unique in terms of body, acidity and aroma. The development stage is the most critical element in roasting your beans. Here, all chemical changes take place and it’s important to consider how long you want your beans to mature; this will determine their unique flavour profile.
Roasting coffee beans at higher temperatures for extended periods causes a series of chemical reactions inside the bean that give it its distinctive flavour, aroma and texture. These include compounds produced during the Maillard reaction, Strecker degradation, pyrolysis and other processes – each contributing to unique aromas and tastes.
The roasting process is designed to regulate the development of volatile compounds to achieve desired flavour, aroma and texture. In particular, roasting time and temperature must be adjusted for chemical reactions to take place without burning the beans. The caramelisation of sugars in coffee beans occurs at various temperatures and rates.
The Maillard reaction occurs when melanoidin, or caramel-like compounds, are produced. These melanoidins give roast coffee its caramel-like taste and contribute to the browning of the bean. Their quantity and degree may differ depending on what kind of coffee is being roasted. Other chemical transformations that take place during roasting include the formation of coffee phenols, which impart a rich, sweet and acidic flavour to roasted coffee.
Roasting time is an integral factor in coffee roasting that can significantly influence its flavour. Some beans benefit from longer roasts to maintain sweetness, while others require a shorter roast to retain acidity. Lighter roasts are typically roasted between 350°F-400°F (177°C-204°C) for around 10 minutes, while medium roasts require closer to 15 minutes above 400°F.
As the beans roast, they undergo an endothermic reaction – meaning they absorb energy. As the temperature increases, however, they will switch into an exothermic reaction and release this stored energy; this explains why they will crack and pop during the first few minutes after roasting. They will also expand and release a lot of moisture in the form of steam, giving off an unpleasant odour – like wet hay. As the beans continue to warm, their colours will darken and become marled in appearance due to the Maillard reaction which is beginning to alter the flavour of the bean.
Now is an ideal time to stir your beans, as this will help maintain an even temperature throughout the entire batch and guarantee all beans have received equal exposure to heat. At this stage, the bean’s heat is slowly breaking down its sugars and caramelizing them. This process gives coffee its distinctive nuttiness, chocolaty aroma, and thick and rich body.
Once roasting is complete, beans should be placed on a cooling tray to allow them to cool. As beans tend to lose much of their moisture during this process, it’s critical that you quickly cool them below 40°F or else you may damage their flavour and aroma.
Once cooling has completed, you can brew and enjoy your freshly roasted coffee. For optimal flavour development, give the beans a day or so to cool before tasting them for yourself. When you’re ready to enjoy your coffee, try adding a dash of milk and sugar or honey for an added layer of flavour. This will bring out the best in each sip.
The roasting process is an intricate series of steps that can significantly affect the flavour of your cup. Moreover, depending on how much coffee is roasted during each stage, different levels of caffeine may be present in each cup.
Air temperature and humidity are two important variables that can influence the roasting process, helping to create a consistent flavour while also preserving the aroma and body of the coffee. Another factor that can influence the roasting process is the origin of the green coffee bean. Some regions may have a preference for certain roasts or even have specific preparation techniques that affect their overall flavour. In addition to air temperature and humidity, green beans’ moisture content plays a significant role in how they will roast. To combat this, he typically uses less heat during wintertime since dry air causes them to lose moisture quickly and roast too quickly.
A reliable storage system is key for keeping freshly roasted coffee fresh and flavourful, preserving its aroma, colour, and caffeine concentration for optimal taste. When stored properly, coffee can retain these aromatics up to weeks or even months after roasting. Therefore, it’s essential to taste and record every batch of coffee you roast so that you can adjust your method according to the results. This should be an ongoing process; over time, this will help you become an even better roaster by honing your machine and improving your technique.
When storing your roasted coffee, one final factor to consider is the type of container. An opaque, airtight container helps preserve the flavour and aroma of roasted coffee for extended storage. Although roasting coffee requires different temperatures, it’s always beneficial to store your green beans in a dark place that is neither too hot nor cold. Doing this helps preserve the roasted flavour so customers can enjoy their coffee at its peak enjoyment.
In conclusion, our exploration into the art of roasting has revealed the intricate dance of heat, time, and skill required to transform raw coffee beans into the perfect cup of bliss. We’ve delved into the science behind the process, unravelled the complexities of roast profiles, and gained a newfound appreciation for the expertise and finesse of master roasters.
As we savour our next brew, let’s take a moment to ponder the myriad of factors that contribute to its unique taste, and acknowledge the incredible journey each bean has undergone to grace our palates. May this knowledge deepen our connection to our beloved beverage, and inspire us to continue exploring the captivating world of coffee. Cheers to the endless pursuit of the perfect roast, and to the passion and dedication that unites coffee enthusiasts across the globe!
I heard someone during the week ask for a “large skimmed, extra wet, extra hot latte”. What the hell is that I asked the barista once the lady had been served. She told me “I gave her a hot latte”. I did chuckle but it got me thinking about what it was that the customer was really looking for.
Breaking down the drink, firstly the milk element – All mammals produce milk as a means of nutrition for the young. Around 87% of milk is water. Then it’s made up of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. Milk for our daily coffees generally comes from cows, although these days a wide choice is available depending on requirement and health. It doesn’t even have to be milk as we know it as alternatives are available. The customer requested skimmed milk. This is done by separating the fat content out by spinning in what’s called a centrifugal separator. The remaining liquid contains an average of only 0.1% fat content once it’s spun through this process. Compare this to whole or full fat milk which contains 3.5% fats.
Latte Stage 2
Second part of the lady’s drink choice – Extra Wet? Ever wondered what this is all about? Wet and Dry are terms describing how much foam is present in the drink and as far as I’m aware only relevant to cappuccinos and introduced by the Americans.
“Wet” has more milk and less foam than a “dry” beverage that will contain pretty much all foam. Extra Wet I am struggling with so assuming she wanted a large cup of hot semi skimmed milk!
Finally, she wanted it extra hot. I can only guess she had a long drive ahead of her and wanted to give the drink to someone else when she arrived! Burnt milk smells bad and tastes bad. To get the best from the espresso the milk really should be at 70 degrees Celsius allowing the proteins and sweetness to enhance the espresso and allow good foam to form for a great end result.
The take-away cup was full to over flowing, the lady then added a couple of sugar to it. This I found ironic! She gave the steaming liquid a stir, put a lid on it, grabbed a sleeve to ensure she did not blister her hand and off she went. Most bizarre!
It’s all subjective and the customer is always right apparently. I can understand why the barista gave her a latte. Did the customer know what she wanted or was it the barista knowing the customers needs better?
Whether its Almond, Coconut, Rice, Semi, Full fat, Skimmed, cow, goat or any other mammal! Without milk the world would be without large skimmed, extra wet, extra hot latte’s and without quirky customers keeping the industry alive.
As we approach the end 2018 its time to reflect a little on the year that was! The reflection of focus for us is what worked well. Those things that we need to continue doing, and then what needs to change as a business going forwards. This got me thinking on personal stuff as well, so here goes, a wee summary on the last 12 months.
Time certainly fly’s. It feels like just last week when we were sitting in the cold office in January looking forward to the year ahead. Both our families had grown at Christmas with the addition of 3 cats (myself with Paddy and Murphy, Niall with Mittens). We found most of the conversations were around how silly it was having kittens. January was naturally quite as the world got back to the hum drum of life post the festivities. We did however welcome a couple of new customers. Plus we launched our retail tins into a high street convenience store which was amazing!
We are both involved at the local rugby club with coaching and developing young players. We have no let up on this with training and fixtures continuing on Sunday morning in minus temperatures. As we started to thaw out into February, 2017 became a distant memory. Business began to get back to some sense of normality as it does this time of year.
We entered 2 of our espresso coffees, Espresso Reserve and for a second year our Bourbon Select, into the “Great Taste Awards 2018”. We delivered coffee training sessions and began work on updating the website and producing product brochures. The cats were still a talking point throughout this time.
Business in March and April
Business in March continued to grow both via our lovely customers organically and new business coming on board. We did unfortunately lose one customer at this time. We are not sure why as we provided the same customer service we do to all our customers.
Products were delivered on the same day when they had forgotten to order. Or the very next day as standard without charge. We provided appropriate free training as and when required, including out of business hours. Responded same day to adjust the grinder on a number of occasions after it had been tampered with to the point of no-return. Offered all the products needed to run the operation and all maintenance when needed. So hey ho, there is only so much we can do and we felt we did our best.
April was again a positive month with a few trade shows to visit. Customers were supported with mystery shopper visits. The end of rugby season arrived. We introduced our coffee bags into the hotel bedroom market. We also introduced Matcha tea and a granulated milk product for the bean to cup machines. All this whist continuing with all the other day to day stuff.
May through to August
The month of May came and went fast. But we did enjoy a Novus tea tasting masterclass with a couple of our customers. We also enjoyed tasting a range of the teas over ice ahead of the summer. June, July & August always seems to be a bit hit and miss in our business, Whilst 9 weeks of sunshine and no rain is delightful to be out and about in, it does effect the hot drinks market. This being said a couple of Conti coffee machines were purchased for new store openings. We introduced a new bean to cup machine into our range and picked up a nice little customer close to the office. Let not forget how we were awarded Great Taste awards for a couple of our coffees, all is good.
A few Hiccups
Unfortunately, in July my two cats became one. Murphy lost his brother which was a real shame and the kids and wife were understandably upset, I fell off a ladder cracking ribs, damaging wrists, knees and face so summer personally was an adventure. Luckily both families did manage a holiday away. Come September the schools are back, the holidays are over. My middle child was starting year 7, big boy school. Then we were back to rugby coaching.
We settled down with some new business that had been bubbling over the summer. Some good sales from existing customers come through. We lost a close friend and one of my rugby coaches which was/is rubbish. October and November is the months when the weather changes. Warmer drinks are being ordered and the hot chocolate sales increase. Christmas shopping starts, black Friday deals and a customer returned from18 months ago. This was great news for us as they were not receiving the levels of service we provide which is wonderful to know. So here we are in December already.
The end is near
2018 has been a good year for developing relationships and working with our wonderful customers, which we are lucky to have. It is always a bonus securing new customers. We are already lining up potential opportunities for the early part of 2019. Plus a potential great partnership with some exiting products to look out for. We are really proud of what we are doing and achieving at Hessian Coffee in 2018 and our continued growth.
Thank you all, Have a great Christmas and all the best for a prosperous and healthy 2019.
The Oxford English dictionary definition of the word communication is as follows. “The imparting and exchanging of information by speaking, writing, or using some other form of the medium”.
It doesn’t sound like it should be a hard thing to do, so why is it so hard for some people to do this?
As an example! An inbound business enquiry came into the office. The potential customer found us via a recommendation, good news so far! They ask all the right questions and understood what it is that we do at Hessian Coffee. Also they understand how we could support their business and arranged a meeting within 48 hours of the call. Another piece of positivity! This is going great. Diary re-arranged, meeting planned, preparation done as scheduled to taste 3 different coffees. Time was allocated to re-iterate the conversation we had on the phone allowing us to bond face to face ensuring all their needs are discussed and met. All good and positive wouldn’t you say!
The Big Day Arrives
Big day arrives. Introductions, the coffee tasting goes well, we share knowledge of what we know and what they expect. I ran through the equipment Hessian Coffee can offer, including how we have free barista training for our customers. I also explained our range of freshly roasted espresso beans and filter coffee. We discussed how we do more than coffee with syrups, takeaway cups, award winning teas. Also I let them know we offer next day delivery, 30-day credit, competitive pricing. This is all good once again, so I leave the meeting feeling positive on the all-round good day being had.
As I was leaving I mentioned to the prospective customer I would follow up that afternoon with an email outlining the meeting and the meeting notes. Hessian would commit to what we can do and how we can move forwards. I put a trace on the email to ensure it goes to the correct person and that it is received. Pretty damn good first impressions in my book I feel.
It all goes wrong
Now this is where it goes wrong. A couple of days later not having heard anything, I re-send the email (which I know was received). Once again with a trace on, and once again picked up. Naturally we are all busy people and guess they had forgotten to reply initially, these things happen.
Leaving it a couple of days and still nothing I give them a call on the mobile. Guess what happens, sent straight to voicemail so I leave a positive message. Giving it what I consider appropriate time I give it a couple of days and try again. Once again sent to voicemail.
Where I struggle is at what point do you give up and put it down to arrogance? Surely basic politeness is not hard and its one of the only things in life that is free.
You win some
You win some and you lose some. I understand that and that is not the problem. If you can understand why you have won or lost then this helps us as a business and as an individual to grow, I get it.
The thing I don’t get is the whole lack of communication thing. Surely a one line email, text or heaven forbid returning the phone calls and saying sorry I am not interested at the moment. Or sorry I didn’t like your shoes, I would be content with anything!
So to finish up, I bring you back to the above dictionary definition because I assume that the “or using some other form of the medium” is NOT referring to telepathy!
I will end this by saying; “Let’s not be afraid to communicate”.
The only difference is a sprinkle of sugary chocolate dust?
So, its Friday, yippee! You decide to head in to town to pick up the random items not possible to get in the weekly shopping. While in town you decide to treat yourself to a large shot of hot caffeine, but which one?
Cappuccino is in theory ⅓ of espresso coffee, ⅓ milk and ⅓ froth, usually with some chocolate sprinkles or powder on top.
Lattes arrived later to our shores, at least I think they did and are milkier!
Back when I was working for peanuts, in hotels and restaurants, it was Cappuccino’s all the way. Nobody outside Italy, knew what a Latte was! This normally involved splashing, steaming, screaming, hot milk about in a big, old milk caked jug and hoping that you would muster something resembling foam. You then would spoon onto a cup of steaming black stuff made several hours earlier.
What is a Latte?
So, a Latte, often served in a tall glass, precariously on a saucer that doesn’t fit the base with a long spoon. What’s that all about? Also with a single or double espresso shot. Depending on what you have ordered or the premises you have visited. The milk should be silky smooth with a little foam on the top, which if lucky, your Barista (get me) may have created something artistic on top for you to gaze at.
So, to conclude! Cappuccino should taste a little stronger as there is less milk and more air, and probably less calories if you forgo the chocolate on top. Latte is a milky coffee, it will be a longer drink as there is more milk and less aeration. You will possibly get a mixture of the two as the cafe are making lattes and cappuccinos at the same time. The only discernible difference will be that whoosh of hot chocolate on the top and the type of cup or glass that they have served it in.
After queueing for more than 5 mins, drooling over the lemon drizzle cake and chocolate tiffin tray bake. At the same time you are justifying why you should or shouldn’t treat yourself. Then reluctantly realising there is a very real chance that you are going to get a parking ticket. So you opt for a takeaway. A takeaway then will leave you completely clueless what you have been served until it’s finished. This is the time when you take the lid off to get the best bits of the ‘Capsulate’ chocolate foam entrails. Don’t forget this requires you sticking in your middle finger around the edges of the cup to rescue the good bits. In the process you get it all over your hand and down your chin in the process, or is that only me?
Roll on wine o’clock when there are no such complicated decisions to be made.
How is your coffee roasted? This is often a question asked either by customers, prospective customers, or competitors. I would like to say it is lovingly roasted by 2 guys in a shed with tattoos, handlebar moustaches, skinny jeans, no socks with impeccable sensory awareness. Men with pallets as smooth as silk and hand packed by ninja’s! But this is not the case and nor is this the case for the majority of coffee roasted in the UK.
Most coffee we drink in the UK has been commercially roasted and packaged (still lovingly) in a factory somewhere. At Hessian Coffee we are extremely proud of the fact we use a commercial roaster and don’t feel the need to pretend we are something other.
The roasting process
The roasting process is something that needs your undivided attention. Attention that is required throughout the entire process to ensure this perfect consistency. I am a big believer in letting those that know what they are doing get on with it.
So it begins with the green coffee beans (the coffee plant seed) arriving in large Hessian coffee sacks. They come from whichever part of the world it is grown (always between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn). As seeds, the green coffee will not deteriorate and it is the process of roasting that unlocks the flavour and aroma from the cells. This gives us coffee beans as we know them. Before these little green beans can enter the oven, they are always quality checked for defects or any foreign bodies that may have entered the sacks during harvest or transportation. Next, small batch samples are roasted and cupped to ensure they meet our quality requirement.
Coffee roasting takes time
Roasting takes around 15 minutes at temperatures of between 200 – 230 degrees C. During this time the beans will expand and “crack”. This cracking is fundamental in the process as it allows the aroma and flavours to develop. If the beans pass the point of no-return which is after a second crack the beans will be ruined. This is one of the reason we use an expert for their years of experience, quality controls and state of the art roasting technology.
Once roasted to our recipe they are cooled. Cooling is critical as you don’t want to continue cooking the beans. Lighter roast coffees generally have more acidity and tend to be dry. Whereas darker roasts develop oils on the surface and offer a bitter taste. Caffeine levels also decrease the darker the coffee is roasted.
It’s about the balance
Getting that balance correct 100% of the time is the key to our blends. One of which is a great taste award winner. Transported through tubes like something out of Willy Wonker and the Chocolate Factory our beans are whizzed to packaging. Here they are cleverly weighed to ensure each branded kilo bag has a kilo of wonderful coffee in it. Next they get thermally sealed with a valve to ensure any additional de-gassing can take place. Lastly they are lovingly hand packed in our bespoke boxes ready for shipping.
Our Coffee beans in either single origin, arabica blends or mixed blend, are roasted specifically for the Hessian Coffee brand. By using the finest grade green coffee every time and it is our policy to trade in an ethical, environmental and socially responsible manner.
It’s a real art and science to consistently deliver quality freshly roasted coffee. So as mentioned we are delighted to leave it with the pro’s, allowing me and the other guys to get on with what they are good at!