Understanding Coffee Roasting, Light to Dark

There is nothing better than a hot cup of fresh roast coffee. Roasting coffee beans changes the chemicals in the beans, making a delicious hot drink from what would otherwise be a bitter and acidic mouthful. You, too, can roast your own coffee beans at home for the flavor that you would only otherwise get at a gourmet coffee shop.

Coffee Bean Roasting
The key to roasting coffee beans is to keep the beans moving constantly so that the beans roast evenly. In addition, it is extremely important to have a method to cool coffee beans quickly at the right time so that they don't over roast. You will also have to deal with the smoke that roasting generates and chaff, or the outer skins of the beans that shed during roasting.

There are several ways to roast coffee, including the use of a hot air popcorn popper to oven roasting your beans. If you want an easier, more even roast, look at gourmet coffee roasters.

Light Roast vs. Dark Roast Coffee
The differences between light roast and dark roast coffee lies with the amount of time the coffee beans are roasted and the temperatures used. The longer the bean roasts at a high temperature, the darker the coffee will be. Dark roast coffee tends to take on the flavor of the roasting itself, while light roast coffee keeps the nuances from the soil and weather from where the beans were grown.

Generally, coffee beans that are light roasted include beans such as Kona or Java, where enthusiasts want to taste individual flavors. Those who enjoy dark roasts care less about the type of coffee bean used and more about the flavors that the roasting itself contributes to the end result.

Coffee Roasting Degrees
The lightest coffee roast is also referred to as a City roast. The beans will be light to medium brown in color and will have one full crack.

Full City, or medium roast coffee, will have started a second crack. The bean still has some of the tastes of its point of origin with additional nuances added due to the roasting process.

The oils have started to rise to the surface of the coffee bean in dark roast coffee. Coffees in this category, such as Vienna roast coffee and Italian roast coffee, still have subtle hints of their points of origin, but the roasting process flavors are more predominate.

French roast coffee is a very dark coffee where the bean is black to burned. Oil completely covers the surface of the bean. The roasting flavors in French roast coffee completely dominate any local nuances that the bean might have originally had.

Remember that roasting coffee beans at home is an art, not a science. You will probably have to experiment before you find the perfect roast and bean for you. Along the way, you will be able to enjoy many different cups of coffee.

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