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November 24, 2021
This is not a definitive guide, this is meant to provide beginners and people that are interested in coffee roasting with a framework and a starting point from which they can begin to experiment and figure out how to improve their roasts.
With a little understanding of what’s happening to the beans and what professional roasters do and what they look for, you can have delicious roasted coffee at a fraction of the cost.
Roasting coffee only needs to be as complicated as you want it to be.
Once you hit 'run' on the roaster, your coffee will go through 5 distinct stages:
During the roast, the coffee beans will dry, and the moisture content of the beans is reduced from 8-12% to less than 0.1%. The drying turns the seeds brittle and allows them to be ground. The reduction in moisture also means the beans lose mass. Roasting coffee typically results in an 18-20% loss in weight. Meaning, that if you roast 130 grams of green coffee, you will get 104-107 grams of roasted coffee. While the beans lose mass, they can almost double in volume. Each coffee bean expands as it roasts due to the creation of gasses on the inside, mainly from the evaporation of water and the generation of carbon dioxide.
Roasting caramelizes the natural sugars found in the coffee and burns off the acids present in the green beans, creating a balanced flavour. It also helps develop volatile flavour compounds and releases coffee oils from the cell structure, which greatly enhance the flavour and the mouth-feel of the eventual beverage when the coffee is ground and brewed.
Roasting is just like cooking; you're aiming for the sweet spot between under-done and over-done. When roasting, you can under-develop your coffee and end up with sour, grainy and vegetal notes, a weak body, and a short-lived, unsatisfying flavour. If you over-develop, the coffee will taste flat and unbalanced because over-exposure to high temperatures has caused the decomposition of the volatile flavour compounds. Development time is critical, but it's hard to give recommendations about how long the coffee should stay in this phase because it depends on the coffee you're working with and what you want to do. Like with a V60 brewer or an espresso machine, you will need to experiment and dial in a roast over time. Keep a timer handy!
You will need: oven-safe pan or baking sheet to roast your coffee (cast iron pan preferable), spatula or stirring spoon, oven mitts, timer, bowl.
Bonus tip: the chaff (the outermost papery layer on the bean) will stay on the coffee when roasting in the oven and will end up in your bowl while the beans are cooling. To remove the chaff, go outside with the bowl and toss the beans lightly in the bowl while blowing. The chaff will fly out, leaving only the beans. Don't do this in your kitchen or you will have chaff all over your floor and your counters.
Some more advice: track your development time. Underdeveloped coffee can taste grassy and grainy, overdeveloped coffee can taste bitter and unpleasant. Once you hit first crack and all of the beans are popping, start a timer on your phone and track how long it takes for the beans to reach the desired roast degree. You can slow the roast down by lowering the oven's temperature or by opening the door for a couple of seconds to vent out some of the hot air. Experiment! see what works for you.
November 24, 2021
November 18, 2021