There are many ways to make a cup of coffee, and true aficionados are always looking for that extra degree of control. A cup of coffee can taste quite different depending on whether you’ve used a pour-over, an espresso machine, or a French press. With all that said, roasting your coffee beans can provide you with a much higher degree of control over your cup of coffee.
You can leave the roasting process up to a professional, or you can do it yourself at home. Either way, different types of roasting techniques can add an entirely new dimension to your coffee experience.
What Happens During the Roasting Process?
So what exactly is the point of roasting coffee, anyway?
First of all, the coffee bean is a shade of green before it’s roasted. At this point, the coffee bean is pretty much tasteless. Those subtle notes and flavors are only released once the coffee beans go through the roasting process.
During the roasting process, the coffee beans lose moisture and inflate. Of course, they’ll also turn varying shades of brown.
By far, the most crucial part of the roasting process, however, is the fact that it creates a chemical transformation in the beans. Certain chemical compounds break down cause the release of flavors in the beans.
Sounds pretty complicated, right?
Even though it might sound rather scientific, these chemical processes aren’t really that groundbreaking. In fact, they’ve been in use for a very long time.
The first chemical reaction involved is called the Maillard Reaction, named after a French chef. The Maillard reaction happens when we make cookies, dumplings, and even toasted marshmallows. This is a reaction that occurs between reducing sugars and amino acids.
The other primary chemical reaction involved in coffee roasting is called the Strecker Degradation Reaction. This is what creates the foam we see from espresso machines, and it also causes a release of CO2.
The roasting process can be broken down into a few steps:
- The coffee beans are first heated in a cylindrical broiler
- The cylindrical broiler spins as the beans are heated
- Spinning lets the beans roast without touching a hot surface for too long
- The broiler is heated automatically for the first few minutes
- After some time has passed, the roasting expert checks the results
- Judging by smell, taste, and sight, the expert decides what to do next
- After controlling the temperature of the broiler, the expert finishes the process
- The beans are released onto a tray, where they are cooled by a fan.
How Does Roasting Allow You to Control the Flavor?
While the roasting process can be a little complex, the taste of the beans is affected by a few simple factors:
The longer you roast the beans, the darker they become. The darker the beans, the stronger the flavor.
Of course, the taste of the coffee also depends on the actual beans themselves. Beans that are from certain areas of the globe have distinctive tastes and smells. The process of harvesting the beans also has an effect on the final product. Even the altitude and the slope of the soil can drastically alter the flavor of that final cup of coffee.
What Are My Options for Roasting My Own Coffee Beans?
If this process intrigues you and you’d like to give it a try, then there are a few options available to you:
First of all, you could simply visit a coffee shop nearby that roasts their own beans. By tasting the different types of roasts and beans, you can get a sense of your own personal taste. Even if you want to roast your own beans one day, this is a good first step to learn what you really like.
If you’d like to roast your coffee at home but you’re not sure about investing in a real roaster, there are other options available to you. You can roast coffee using a stovetop popcorn maker, believe it or not. While this isn’t exactly a professional-grade solution, it gets the job done.
Finally, you can go the whole nine yards and get yourself a commercial coffee roaster. There are a few units out there that won’t break the bank, and they can provide you with the ultimate level of control over your coffee beans.
Our Top Picks For Coffee Roasters
- KALDI Coffee Roaster
If you want to approach your coffee roasting like a seasoned pro, this top-of-the-line unit from KALDI is a solid option.
You’ll feel like an expert in no time as you use an included thermometer, hopper, and probe rod to take complete control of the roasting process. There’s even a chaff holder too. It’s a little industrial and you might need a fair amount of counter space, but its stainless-steel design is a nice touch that’ll give any kitchen a little extra flair.
- Nuvo Eco Coffee Roaster
While the previous option is pretty complex, this coffee roaster is on the complete opposite end of the spectrum.
And you know what? That’s not a bad thing.
The simplicity of this design is winning over roasters all over the globe, and it’s easy to see why. There are no moving parts on this one, and the internal design of the ceramic roaster allows the beans to be heated equally. A waffle-like grid on the inside makes sure that the heat is distributed evenly, while heat and noise can escape through a couple of well-placed holes.
- Gene Cafe CBR-101 Coffee Roaster
If you need to roast up a kilo of coffee quickly and easily, you might consider this option from Gene cafe. Its user-friendly design makes this a no-brainer for coffee roasting newbies, and it’s easy on the eye as well.
- Fresh Roast SR500 Automatic Roaster
This option is perfect if you’d like to take advantage of some of the most technologically advanced features available. Aside from giving you a range of controls, you can even connect this roaster to your computer.
- Nesco Pro Series Coffee Roaster
The Nesco coffee roaster is another smart choice, and it could be perfect if you don’t have much space. The compact design makes this coffee roaster a welcome addition to even the most cramped kitchen counters, and it’s still more than capable of delivering excellent coffee beans.