Thus far in Hoxton Coffee’s blog we’ve run through some main types of coffee beans, the aims in coffee tasting, how to taste coffee, and how to grind it. Next up, we’re looking at coffee roasting and all that it entails. So grab yourself a cuppa, buckle in and learn about roasting!
What is coffee roasting?
You may know that, at the beginning, the coffee seed is just a green, bad tasting unit for carrying what will become an incredibly aromatic, tasty, famous drink. The smell of freshly roasted coffee is one of the favourites of people the world over, signalling a fresh start or, perhaps, the energy you need to get through the day! What it is that creates that smell is what we’re discussing here, and it is not a process that is easily defined.
For one, a whole book could be written about commercial roasting of coffee beans. But here we will look solely at roasting coffee at home for those of you interested in such things. Whilst not as common today, 100 years ago a lot of households would buy raw coffee and roast it themselves. It can be an enjoyable task if you’re that way inclined, though most of us prefer the convenience of pre-roasted beans that taste just as good (or, quite possibly, better!).
Coffee roasting is the act of using heat to transform the green coffee into the dark beans we know. The National Coffee Association of America writes on their website: “Roasting brings out the aroma and flavor that is locked inside the green coffee beans. Beans are stored green, a state in which they can be kept without loss of quality or taste. A green bean has none of the characteristics of a roasted bean - it’s soft and spongy to the bite and smells grassy.”
How do people roast coffee at home?
As with most things in life, there are a number of ways to do this, with none more right than another way. But some are certainly easier, and will definitely provide better results - particularly for those who are uninitiated in the art. Unless you want to get experimental with baking trays in the oven or modified popcorn machines, there are two main ways: Hot-air roasters and drum roasters.
What is a drum roaster?
The clue’s in the name. You can buy these from pretty small scale to fairly large for the home, and it is basically a drum that rotates with the green coffee inside it, applying heat all the while to (supposedly) give an even browning to all the beans. Different quality drums will give different quality results, but this is a fairly easy way to enter the field.
What is a hot-air roaster?
On the other hand, a hot-air roaster mimics what happens in commercial-scale roasting projects but on a much, much lighter level. It is known as fluid-bed roasting in the industry, whereby hot air agitates and moves the beans around to produce an even roast, whilst giving all the heat needed to turn them brown. These are a better option cost-wise than the drum roaster, and a fantastic starting point if you’re looking to get into the field. But whatever you start with, as with any new hobby, there will be trials and tribulations along the way.