Coffee Roasting Process & Degree Of Roast
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Coffee Roasting Process & Degree Of Roast

The coffee roasting process follows coffee processing and precedes coffee brewing. It consists essentially of sorting, roasting, cooling, and packaging but can also include grinding in larger scale roasting houses. In larger operations, bags of green coffee beans are hand or machine-opened, dumped into a hopper, and screened to remove debris. The green beans are then weighed and transferred by belt or pneumatic conveyor to storage hoppers. From the storage hoppers, the green beans are conveyed to the roaster. Roasters typically operate at temperatures between 240–275 °C (464–527 °F), and the beans are roasted for a period of time ranging from 3 to 30 minutes. Initially, the process is endothermic (absorbing heat), but at around 175 °C (347 °F) it becomes exothermic (giving off heat). For the roaster, this means that the beans are heating themselves and an adjustment of the roaster's heat source might be required. At the end of the roasting cycle, the roasted beans are dumped from the roasting chamber and cooled with forced air. Sometimes, in large commercial roasters, the beans are first quenched with a fine water mist. Torrefacto is a roasting process used in Spain and parts of Latin America involving the addition of sugar.

Degree of roasting

Coffee roasters use names for the various degrees of roast, such as City Roast and French Roast, for the internal bean temperatures found during roasting. Roastmasters often prefer to follow a "recipe" or "roast profile" to highlight certain flavor characteristics. Any number of factors may help a person determine the best profile to use, such as the coffee's origin, variety, processing method, or desired flavor characteristics. A roast profile can be presented as a graph showing time on one axis and temperature on the other, which can be recorded manually or using computer software and data loggers linked to temperature probes inside various parts of the roaster.

Degree of roast pictorial

These images depict samples taken from the same batch of a typical Brazilian green coffee at various bean temperatures with their subjective roast names and descriptions.
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green coffee
22 °C (72 °F) Green Beans

Green coffee beans as they arrive at the dock. They can be stored for up to two years.

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165 °C (329 °F) Drying Phase

As beans roast, they lose water and increase in size.

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196 °C (385 °F) Cinnamon Roast

A very light roast level, immediately before first crack. Light brown, toasted grain flavors with sharp acidic tones, almost tea-like in character.

205 °C (401 °F) New England Roast

Moderate light brown, but still mottled in appearance. A preferred roast for some specialty roasters, highlights origin characteristics as well as complex acidity.

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210 °C (410 °F) American Roast

Medium light brown, towards the end of first crack. A common roast for some single origin coffees.

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219 °C (426 °F) City Roast

Medium brown, common for most specialty coffee. Good for tasting the varietal character of a bean.

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225 °C (437 °F) Full City Roast

Medium dark brown with occasional oil sheen, roast character is noticeable. At the beginning of second crack. A common roast level for espresso blends.

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230 °C (446 °F) Vienna Roast

Moderate dark brown with light surface oil, more bittersweet, caramel-y flavor, acidity muted. In the middle of second crack. Origin characteristics become mostly eclipsed by roast characteristics at this level.

460 degrees french roast coffee.png
240 °C (464 °F) French Roast

Dark brown, shiny with oil, burnt undertones, acidity diminished. At the end of second crack. Roast character is dominant at this level. Little, if any, of the inherent flavors of the coffee remain. 

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245 °C (473 °F) Italian Roast

Very dark brown and shiny, burnt tones become more distinct, acidity almost gone, thin body. 

480 degrees spanish roast coffee.png
250 °C (482 °F) Spanish Roast

Extremely dark brown, nearly black and very shiny, charcoal and tar tones dominate, flat, with thin body.

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