The Weekly Grind: Roasts
Coffee is the world’s second most valuable traded commodity, behind petroleum. We run on it, we swear by it, we’re obsessed with it.
Humans have been drinking coffee since the 15th century, but how much do we really know about it? Like wine or fine dining, coffee is an art. To truly become a coffee connoisseur you need to get to know every aspect of the brew.
With the help of Know Where Coffee, we’ve decided to break the beloved drink down in our series, the Weekly Grind.
What is the difference between light, medium and dark roasts?
Different roasting profiles are created by the length of time that the green coffee bean remains in the roaster.
The roasting process begins when green coffee beans are placed in the roaster and subjected to increased temperatures where the trapped gasses and moisture expand until an audible crackling sound occurs, known as the first crack.
As the heating process continues, the bean’s sugars undergo caramelization. The flavors formed at this point are described as caramel-like notes but still contain the bean’s regionally defined, inherent flavor. The combination of these roasted brown notes and the regional nuances of a coffee crop make the most interesting and complex flavor profiles.
As the temperature rises further in the roasting process, the color darkens considerably and flavors form with great intensity. This reaction in the coffee beans creates a host of aromatic flavors such as toasted, roasted, nutty and chocolate.
The roasting process continues and the woody cellulosic materials within the beans start burning and emitting popping and crackling noises, known as the second crack. At this point the flavor characteristics produced at the second crack and beyond tend to be smoky, woody or even asphalt-like.
Stopping the roasting at various points in the process creates the different roast taste profiles:
Light roast profile
High in acidity and often producing a grain-like, bright, fruity, floral, grassy, lightly sweet flavor with the regionally-defined flavors still dominating. The body is light.
Medium light roast profile
The bean turns light brown and the sugars in the bean begin to caramelize producing a distinct nutty flavor.
Medium roast profile
The sugars are fully caramelized and the beans take on a more balanced offering of caramel, cocoa, chocolate, sweet flavor with a medium body.
Medium dark roast profile
Acidity diminishes significantly and the caramelized sugars take on a bittersweet flavor reminiscent of dark chocolate.
The acidity is completely lost and the regionally-defined flavors are swamped with smoky carbon-like flavors but with a full body.
Know Where Coffee uses medium to light profiles, which allows the roaster and the shop to highlight the actual characteristics of the coffee farm being sourced, so stop by and experiment with the different options! Stay tuned for next week’s java lesson.
Stay caffeinated, Gainesville.