Coffee roasting has always intrigued me. I knew there was way more to it
than simply heating up beans, but never knew just how much. Recently after
getting into specialty coffee I began following a bunch of different
roasters on Instagram. That’s when I realized just how much of an art and
science coffee roasting really is.
While scrolling through Instagram one night I came across a post from
Honest Coffee Roasters about a coffee roasting class they were putting on.
Thankfully it was being held during my vacation. They only had a limited
number of spots available so I signed up at like…midnight.
It started at 6pm and began with Brice (their director of roasting) talking
to us about why coffee is roasted, etc. This held us over while the roaster
warmed up. Once warmed up, he loaded in 19lbs of coffee, which in the end
would turn into a little over 15lbs. After lowering the temperature back
down to the charge temperature, he dropped the beans into the roaster and
started the timer.
Prior to all of this, he had began writing key information down to create a
roast profile. Information such as humidity, starting amount of beans, etc.
In the end you record the finishing amount of beans and this tells you how
much the beans will lose during a roast. This is important for future
roasts cause if you need X amount at the end, you want to know how much to
Back to the roasting. So every 30 seconds you have to record several bits
of information – the air temperature inside the roaster, the bean
temperature, the amount of gas you’re adding (there’s a dial you adjust
that adds more/less gas to the roaster and controls the temperature), and
the vent opening in the back. Afterwards you plot the temperatures/time
intervals on a chart and it gives you two lines.
At the beginning of the roast the temperature will drop rather drastically,
cause the probe reading the bean temperature is trying to catch up. This is your “bottom out” number and it gets recorded. So throughout the remainder of the roast the temperature will gradually increase, but over time you want it to keep increasing, yet decreasing in the amount of increasing… That’s confusing I’m sure. He referred to it as “rate over rise”. For example: say between 7:30-8:00 the temperature increases by 10 degrees. Between 9:30-10:00 you want the temperature to have increased, but only by 7-8 degrees. And then at 12:00-12:30, maybe a 4 degree increase.
Once you reach the end you drop the beans into the cooling tray and turn it out. You want the beans to cool down as fast as possible so they don’t continue cooking outside of the roaster. As it cools you can take that time to pick out any imperfections, then empty the tray and start bagging.
I’m really hooked on this aspect of specialty coffee now and hopefully can find a small roasting apprenticeship sometime soon.
** If you check them out, I recommend the Flores. That’s what we got to watch being roasted and were able to take a bag home. Really good stuff and affordable. **
MENTIONED IN THE POST
Honest Coffee Roasters – WEBSITE // Instagram: @honestroasters
Brice (their director of roasting) – Instagram: @bricestu