Coffee: the magic word that heals the soul and makes Mondays seem reasonable.
We can collectively agree that more than being just a beverage, it is an emotion and elixir to well-being.
But then there’s terrible coffee too, which, unfortunately, is as real as that sparkling mug of creamy mochaccino you’re sipping on while reading this. And Heavens forbid lest you had to deal with bad coffee at work, then somewhere a battered coffee machine has to pay its price.
Therefore, to prevent such atrocity at work, we should always look towards brewing our own cup with perfectly roasted coffee!
Not only does roasting coffee seal in all its freshness and purity in your daily mug, but you can have the coffee roasted to just the right degree depending on your taste.
But, if this sounds like a tedious job to you right now, then we’ve come with a complete guide for best home coffee roasters to make it seem like a dream!
So sit back, enjoy your espresso and give it a read!
How does roasting coffee work?
Roasting green coffee beans is what alters their chemical and physical properties and gives them their characteristic flavor and invigorating aroma. Roasted coffee beans contain acids, sugars, proteins and caffeine in higher levels than what is contained in unroasted green beans.
However, unroasted ones lack the flavor of roasted coffee beans due to Maillard and numerous other chemical reactions that occur when you roast them.
What happens during the coffee-roasting process?
After the green coffee beans are roasted, they are subjected to processing and finally, brewing. The entire process mostly consists of “sorting, roasting, cooling, and packaging” and, in case of larger roasting houses, “grinding”, at times.
The coffee beans are put into a hopper and are picked to remove impurities. They are then weighed and transferred by a pneumatic conveyor to storage hoppers, and from there on to the roasters.
The immediate process is endothermic or heat-absorbing, which becomes an exothermic or heat-liberating process for the beans at approximately 175 degrees Celsius or 347 degrees Fahrenheit. This requires the best home coffee roaster to be an “adjustable heat source” as the beans begin to heat themselves. The heat forces the moisture out of the beans.
After this process is done with, the roasted beans are air-cooled using a draft inducer.
During coffee-roasting, the coffee beans become about 15-18% of their original weight as they lose water and other “volatile compounds.”
Surprisingly, even though the beans lose weight, their size gets doubled by the end of the roasting process, as the cellulose structure of the beans expands. This expansion “facilitates the release of carbon dioxide, volatile organic compounds, and water, in the form of steam.”
Certain natural sugars in the beans get converted into carbon dioxide gas while a few others are caramelized into certain specific flavors that make up the complex taste of coffee.
Know your roasts!
Often, certain degrees of roast are given names like “city roast” or “French roast” to determine the varying internal bean temperatures during roasting. “Roast profiles” are often maintained and referred to, for knowing the characteristics of particular flavors.
A number of factors may help to ascertain any particular profile which generally includes “the coffee’s origin, variety, processing method, moisture content, bean density, or any desired flavor characteristic.”
One of the most popular, albeit, probably the least accurate yardstick to determine the degree of roast is to assess the color of the bean by sight alone. The color of the beans shifts to yellow and eventually to darker shades as long as it absorbs heat. Oil appears on the beans’ surface in the later stages of roasting.
Since, coffee can also darken with age, taking its color as the sole determinant may not be a plausible option always. A combination of smell, temperature, color, and sound is usually studied by roasters while monitoring the roasting process.
Sound is a proper indicator of temperature during roasting. There are two “temperature thresholds” called “cracks” that best coffee roasters usually listen for.
The first cracking noise or simply a “crack” occurs at around 196 degrees Celsius (385 degrees Fahrenheit), that marks the beginning of a light roast. At this point, great amount of moisture evaporates, and the bean size expands.
When the temperature gets up to approximately 224 degrees Celsius (435 degrees Fahrenheit), your beans will emit a second crack, indicating that the coffee structure is about to collapse. The beans will soon become wholly carbonized and explode their guts out if heated beyond this point.
The “crack” schedule of coffee, at a glance!
Green Bean: The beans will have their essential green essence as they begin to heat.
Yellow: The beans will gradually turn yellow and emit a somewhat “grassy” smell.
Steam: The water in the beans starts to evaporate and is eventually forced out in the form of steam.
First Crack: The natural sugars in the bean start to caramelize and light popping and cracking sounds are heard, marking the first crack.
City Roast: This is the optimum level for grinding and brewing, following the first crack.
City Plus Roast: The sugars are further caramelized at this point, and the oils gradually migrate to the surface, causing the bean to swell in size. This is a popular level of roast.
Full City Roast: A Full City Roast is a darker roast that almost nears the second crack.
Second Crack (Full City Plus Roast): There is a second louder crack for a Full City Plus roast level, that explores even richer and more intense flavors.
Dark Roast (French Roast): The smoke will gradually turn pungent, and the sugars will burn just to the point before the flavor gets ruined and the structure collapses. This is the maximum limit of roasting within the boundaries of great bittersweet flavors.
Burn: If the beans are not taken away from the roaster, they will completely burn at this point.
Roasting At Home
With a history that takes us brewing back to the 15th century, roasting coffee beans has been a significant deal even way into the 20th century, when buying pre-roasted coffee was pretty common for every household.
Although this practice sustained a major setback with the rise of commercial coffee roasting companies, it is, fortunately, making a huge comeback in recent years.
And this could spell the two most amazing things for us: great coffee and complete control over quality!
3 things you need to roast your coffee at home
Green coffee beans: Getting premium quality coffee beans can be quite an effort if you don’t know or have a standard coffee shop that sells beans in your locality. You can check with local coffee shop owners to know if there are any roasters who might sell unroasted coffee beans.
Roasting equipment: There is a wide range of best home coffee roasters available out there, and moreover, even a simple popcorn maker does the job if managed in the right way. However, it is advisable for you to opt for a standard coffee roasting machine that ensures perfect taste and texture and, of course, fits your budget.
Necessary storage arrangements: This is one of the most vital aspects of home-roasting. You will need a proper, airtight container to store your roasted coffee till you use it the next time.
Since roasted coffee beans start to “degas” and begin losing their flavor and aroma in less than a week or two, it is mandatory to use them up within that period.
Sadly, not even the best containers can maintain the freshness of coffee for longer than this.
Now that you have the essentials…
- Remember, for a successful roasting process the beans must be adequately heated between 196 to 224 degrees Celsius but not beyond this point.
- As you roast, make sure that the beans remain “in constant motion” for an even fry. This will also prevent them from burning.
- The roasting process will produce a fair amount of smoke. So, make sure that your roasting area is well-ventilated; even more so if you’re planning to roast at home.
We already have 99 problems and coffee shouldn’t be one. And, it simply isn’t a thing whose quality can be compromised with!
Go ahead! Roast up your beans and light up your senses…good quality is but rare to come by.
We hope you liked our guide.