Everyone has their personal preference when it comes to their go-to cup of coffee, but do you know about the different factors that changes the flavor of your coffee? Aside from syrups and creams that can be added to your beverage, the actual coffee beans have a lot to do with how your coffee tastes. There are many factors affecting your coffee like where the beans were grown, how old the beans are, how they were ground, and how the coffee was brewed. Beyond these, there is another factor that dictates a lot about the flavor of your coffee: how it is roasted!
What is the Coffee Roasting Process?
Coffee beans, in their most original form, are the seeds of a type of berry. Before they are roasted, coffee beans are odorless and lighter in color, sometimes with a slightly green tint, very different from the brown beans you typically see at the grocery store or in coffee shops. Roasting the beans involves quickly raising the heat to very high temperatures, taking the moisture out of the bean, and then quickly cooling them off. In the heating process, a chemical change takes place and it is only after this that the beans have that familiar coffee smell. The beans should be brewed as quickly as possible after they are roasted for the freshest tasting coffee.
How do the Different Roasts Affect the Flavor?
The more a coffee bean is roasted, the further away the bean gets from its original flavor. There are four universal roasts that are typically used to label coffee: light, medium, medium-dark, and dark. Some businesses have catered these into their own categories, but these four are standard. The roast is affected by how high the temperature gets before those coffee beans are cooled, and the higher the temperature, the darker and dryer the beans are. One misconception about roasts is that dark roasts equal more caffeine, when in reality, though the flavor is punchier, it is actually the lighter roasted coffee beans that maintain the higher levels of caffenation.
(Aliases: Blonde, Cinnamon, New England)
This is the most mild level of roast, and it has a slightly more acidic taste to it (especially depending on the origin of the bean). As the temperature rises in the roasting process, the beans begin to expand and crack which first takes place somewhere between 300-350 degrees. Most light roasts are cooled either just before or after the first crack.
(Aliases: Regular, American, Breakfast, City)
This roast level is the most popular in the United States, and has a more balanced level of body and acidity in taste compared to the light roast. The temperature for a medium roast typically lands between 400 and 430 degrees, right before the second crack takes place.
(Aliases: Vienna, After Dinner, Full City, Light Continental, Light French Espresso)
This roast begins to develop more body with a slightly bitter after taste, but it isn’t as extreme as the dark roast. Typically, medium-roast is brought between 430 and 450 degrees, during that second crack of the beans.
(Aliases: French Roast, European, Espresso, New Orleans, Continental)
The beans from this roast are dark (nearly black) and shiny, and they produce a more bitter tasting coffee. The darker the roast, the less acidity and caffeine, and roasting to the high heat of 480 degrees almost entirely masks the original flavor of the bean. The dark roast is a very bold cup of coffee, and, like in many facets of life, to each their own!