What Does A Coffee Roaster Actually Do?

What Does A Coffee Roaster Actually Do?


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            Coffee roasting seems like a mysterious art to many outside the coffee industry, and while many roasters can be very secretive about their process, it is a fairly simple concept to understand.

            A coffee roaster is mainly responsible for sourcing and then roasting green beans, which then give you the finished product, that are the brown/dark brown coffee beans you are familiar with. Now let’s break this down further to help you understand what each step implies.

            First of all, let’s make it very clear as to what a “green bean” is. Green beans are basically the raw material for coffee roasters. These are the seeds that will come out of a coffee cherry, from a coffee plant. The coffee cherries go through various methods of processing, quality checks and screening at the farm, to then finally have green beans that are sold to the roaster. Coffee Roasters may source the green beans through different methods, often through middle-men, cooperatives, auctions or some roasters may even have direct links with the farms, which is more desirable from a specialty coffee perspective as it leads to greater transparency, and better understanding of the quality being offered.  


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            Every coffee roaster needs to have a roasting machine in order to roast, or in simpler terms “cook”, the green beans. If one were to have unroasted coffee beans, they would be almost bitter in taste, with no aroma or qualities similar to that of the roasted coffee we know and love. Roasting these green beans will bring out what the raw bean has to offer in terms of it’s flavor and aromas.

            A large part of how the coffee will taste comes down to how the coffee is roasted. Usually, light-medium roasts are much more pronounced in their flavor, bringing out a lot of the desirable characteristics the coffee has to offer. Of course, this is greatly variable on the type of coffee and where it is from and multiple other factors. But as a general rule, darker roasted coffees will carry undesirable or bitter flavor notes. This is due to much of the natural flavors being burnt off from roasting too much, or “baking” the coffee. Although darker roasts will generally be more desirable for those who enjoy having milk with their coffee, or appreciate tobacco-ey and bitter aftertaste.

            Roasting in itself is a very tricky process and roasters will come to discover what is the optimal flavor profile they want through a lot of trial and error. Having a local roaster in your city or country is extremely exciting because this means you have access to fresh coffee and really up your coffee game. It will not only allow you to taste interesting coffees from different origins, but also help the roaster grow and become better!

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