My last post about us hand processing the coffee beans ended up with the green beans needing to be polished to look nice. Well....when I noticed this morning that I would be out of coffee if I did not either roast some today or open up a bag that was already sealed and labeled...well, I figured that this would be a good time to finish the series. It had not rained all morning yet and we have hurricane warnings for Panama right now. So, I skipped the polishing step that would make it pretty, since the coffee was just for us and it is purely a cosmetic step and went right to the roasting! :)
This is our home-roaster. This model is very common around here for people's personal roasters. There are many different models now, but I have used this one for a few years now and I like it. It will only do 9 oz. at a time, so this is not the machine for a commercial enterprise, but it is great for making a batch of fresh coffee each week or small batches for friends.
One of the keys to good coffee is the roaster. You have to start out with good coffee beans, but then you have to have someone who knows how to roast it the way you like it. Since everyone likes coffee roasted differently, it makes roasting challenging. Well, pretty impossible to please everyone, but you can get "good" roasts that most people will at least enjoy and some will even love. The picture above is what our "green" beans looked like after they had been in the roaster for 7 minutes. The roaster can be programmed to have different temperatures for a certain time length, different air flows for certain time lengths...it gets all complicated. But in the end, it takes approximately 25 minutes, it must reach 395 degrees to hit the 1st "crack" where it begins to sound like someone is snapping wooden toothpicks. This 1st crack is where roasters start paying attention to what roast they are going to perform. With a lead in of 1st crack, you have to know that there is a 2nd crack coming next. :)
The image above is from: http://cyberiancafe.com/roast and is not the actual one that I started learning from, but I pulled it off of the internet as an basic illustration of the different roasts. However, there are a multitude of other options! I also learned over the years that depending on the coffee beans you use, the rules change. Here in Panama, I can roast beans that never hit the 2nd crack, but will release oils as if they did after "resting" for 48 hours. So, it is important that the roaster is familiar with the harvest of beans they are working with to produce what the customer wants. Also, the difference between a Full City roast and a Fire Risk roast can be the difference of 1 minute, so no dozing off during roasting time. I know this too, I have had times where I was distracted and well....thankfully I had friends that liked different roasts and were gladly willing to take many of my "failed" batches off of my hands. I am not a black bean coffee drinker...never understood the whole charcoal thing, but I know many people who are.
Anyways, starting around 420 degrees the coffee begins to reach the 2nd crack. Again the sounds like toothpicks breaking can be heard. About 30 seconds into the 2nd crack, I stopped my roast. At this point, the heat on my machine was off, but the temperature rises quickly as the oils inside of the beans are released with each cracking noise that is heard.
The picture above is where the beans are released from the inside chamber onto the spinning tray below. There is a cooling fan that blows air onto the beans to cool them quickly as the tray spins around and a blade keeps readjusting the beans. This process takes another 5 minutes.
Tada! Roasted beans! They should sit and rest for a minimum of 1 hour before being packaged if this had been a commercial roast. However, if it would have been a commercial batch, it would have taken time to cull out any imperfections.
The coffee has now been ground and is ready for tomorrow! My work is done....haha....my wonderful husband just informed me there are more trees to go harvest today.
I know this post was long, but there is so much about coffee that I could go on and on. Let me know if you have any questions! I will gladly answer what I can.