We here at Espresso Unplugged are constantly searching for ways to improve our coffee experience, just as we know you are too!  The ideal brewing device is one thing, and favored coffee beans are another. But what about the way coffee beans are roasted?

 Many people love roasting their own coffee beans. They like being able to control how dark they’re roasted, they like knowing their beans are as fresh as possible, and they like that green beans are less expensive than roasted beans!

 If you’re new to the concept of roasting your own beans, you may not realize green beans can be kept, depending on conditions, for 1 to 3 years. In addition, green coffee beans are anywhere from 30% to 50% cheaper than roasted beans! Not only can you buy in bulk at a lower rate with less worry about spoilage, you can roast just what you need and just when you need it!

The process of roasting green beans is fairly straightforward. The beans are evenly heated until they start to change color. A yellowish hue suggests they’re cooking properly, and at this stage, they’ve reached Cinnamon Roast. Soon after, the ‘first crack’ is heard. This is when the beans have expanded enough to split their shell just a bit, and this is called New England Roast. A bit darker, and you’re at American Roast followed by City Roast.

Quite quickly, this stage is followed by the ‘second crack.’ Now your beans are at Full City Roast, which is perfect for espresso. Depending on your taste, you can stop here or continue on through Vienna, French, Italian, or Spanish Roast. Toward the end, though, you’ll be drinking a flat, watery brew more reminiscent of tar and charcoal than anything else!

There are a lot of factors that combine to produce a good roast. Chief among them are the evenness of roasting. If some beans are left uncooked, they contribute a mealy, grassy component, whereas overcooking some beans lends a burnt flavor.

Another factor is the removal of chaff, which is the residue of the beans’ skin after it’s cooked off. Although chaff is tasteless, too much of it can clog your coffeemaker and reduce your flavor. Also, dealing with the smoke from roasting your beans has to be dealt with. Although you can run a vent fan or roast outdoors, if the beans are roasted in a confined container, you will taste the smoke in your coffee.

Finally, it’s a good idea to let your roasted beans off-gas for 1 to 3 days before sealing them for storage. You can grind the just roasted beans if you like, but flavors develop and mellow with the off-gassing process.

What about you? Do you have a favorite method of roasting your coffee beans? We’d particularly like to hear about Unplugged roasting! Tell us your story, and we’ll pick from our favorites to win a  porlex grinder.

September 23, 2016 — Gregory Cromwell

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