Coffee Roasting Basics

Published on: 4/20/18

The fragrant aroma. The beautiful caramel brown color. The steady rumbling sounds. There is nothing better than hearing the beans dropping out of the drum into the cooling tray for the first time. You have created something with your hands. Not just your hands, but many additional hands along the way. Hands of farmers that have been growing coffee for many years and importers that advocate for said farmers when those farmers are overlooked. A coffee roaster is the final touchpoint for that coffee before it meets its’ final destination with the consumer. It is a great burden to bear and important to understand why.

Being a part of this process was always a dream of mine. It was important for me to feel like I wasn’t only consuming something, but I was apart of it. After learning from a few individuals, I purchased a small bag of green coffee beans, a whirly pop, and an outdoor gas stove. The rest is history (more on that store later).

Coffee roasting is for most coffee drinkers, a mystery. Coffee is seen as a brown bean, ground, and served over water. Little do people know that coffee starts out as a cherrie — a living breathing thing. Coffee roasting is the process of taking this raw, unprocessed, green coffee bean and roasting it in a large heated drum. Coffee roasters can come in a range of sizes, from small 1lb sample roasters, to 75lb monsters. We love our San Franciscan SF25 coffee roaster that can roast 25lb at a time. It’s well aged, simple, and gets the job done.

The process of coffee roasting is actually quite simple. Charge temp, turning point, first crack, drop temp, and second crack are all important terms to keep in mind. These are each key moments in the roasting process that help to develop the coffee properly. Your charge temp is the temperature at which the roaster is heated to before the beans are dropped into the drum. The turning point is the point in the roast (usually around 2 minutes for us) when the beans go from decreasing in temperature to increasing. This is also the point where the roast curve begins. First crack is when the bean makes an audible noise, similar to popcorn popping, and begins its’ full development process. This is also the point at which the coffee is considered to be drinkable. First crack usually occurs around 365-370 degrees dependent on the coffee. It is after this point that the individual coffee roaster has his or her fingerprints on the roast. The amount of time the coffee is given to develop is what makes each roaster different. Lastly, drop temperature is the time at which the roast ends and the beans are dropped into the cooling tray. We find that having a drop temperature of coffee around 398-415 is ideal, dependent on the origin at which the coffee comes from.

There are many roasters today that automate this process. They keep a ‘set it and forget it mindset’ when it comes to roasting, however we believe that you cannot eliminate the roaster from this process. Just as the coffee farmer pays close attention to every detail, the roaster is integral in doing the same. We will continue to have our hands in each and every batch of coffee to maintain the highest quality product for you our customers. Click on the BUY link in the menu above or swing by our Carmel Location for more details on ordering a freshly roasted bag of coffee!

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