No Beans About It: How a Coffee Roaster Brings Your Beans From Crop to Cup

For most of us, coffee is a food staple that is essential to our daily ability to function. But even if you are an unwilling fiend for caffeine, you have plenty of choices when it comes time to fill your mug. In recent decades, stores and cafes have started stocking beans from all over the world, each specially prepared to achieve a unique taste. Let’s take a look at how this magical plant travels from farm to coffee roaster to your cup.

In the Beginning, There Were Beans

Farmers grow coffee all over the world. The plant was first cultivated in 15th-century Yemen, and much of today’s world still imports beans from the Middle East. Many countries in South and Central America, Southeast Asia, and Africa have also grown into major bean exporters due to warm, dry climates that allow the plant to thrive. Each origin point’s growing conditions – including soil, climate, and altitude – produce a unique crop with characteristic natural flavors that are unlocked by the roasting process.

The Process

A coffee roaster imports beans from all over the globe and runs them through a process that emphasizes or changes their flavors. Batches are fed into large steel drums and heated at a precise temperature for a specific amount of time. The coffee’s natural greenish hue changes to increasingly darker shades of brown, and its texture may become oily depending on the kind of roast desired.

Types of Roasts

Starting with a given bean, a specialty coffee roaster can create many kinds of flavors and drinking experiences. Lower drum temperatures produce light and medium roasts. Light beans are softer shades of brown and are usually dry and non-oily to the touch. They retain much of the flavor unique to their origin country and its soil, climate, and altitude. The lightest beans, therefore, have the most complex flavors, allowing drinkers to detect hints of nut, fruit, and sweetness, depending on the bean’s native character. They are also highest in acidity and caffeine.

In contrast, beans exposed to higher temperatures for longer periods of time produce an entirely different taste. Dark beans emerge from the drum with a shiny, oily texture. Viennese, French, and Italian blends – all dark varieties – can look more black than brown, and they produce a richer, thicker taste when brewed. The characteristic origin flavor is softened and overshadowed by a more robust “coffee” flavor such that the origin often has no bearing on a dark brew’s taste. Longer, hotter roasting extracts more caffeine from the beans, so French and Italian options aren’t preferable when you’re looking for that morning jolt.

Find a specialty coffee roaster near you and start experimenting with different beans and roasts. You can even mix different beans together, grinding and brewing your creation into the perfect custom cup. The possibilities are endless, and it’s easy for any casual sipper to turn connoisseur overnight – especially if you’re too wired to get any sleep.


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