Roasting coffee is the process that all green coffee beans go through before they can be used to prepare coffee. If you want to take pride in making an excellent cup of coffee by splurging in freshly roasted beans, then this article is a must-read for you.

Why Is Coffee Roasted?

Roasting coffee beans bring out the aroma and flavor that is usually locked inside the green coffee beans. Beans are mainly stored in green, a state in which they are to be kept so that there is no loss of quality or taste. Green beans are unlike roasted beans; they are soft and spongy if you try biting them and smell of grass. In the process of roasting, some chemical changes take place as the beans are brought to a rapid high temperature. Once they have reached perfection, they are quickly cooled to stop the process. Roasted beans smell just like coffee and weigh less compared to green beans because the moisture is roasted out. They are crunchy when you bite them, ready to be brewed. A rule of thumb here is that you should use it as quickly as possible once they are roasted or else the fresh roast flavor will begin to diminish.

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Why Does Freshly Roasted Coffee Taste Better?

When you start to burn raw coffee beans into brown roasts the natural flavors, aromas of the coffee starts to degrade. The chemical structure of the coffee beans start to change and after a point, they begin to lose the desired flavor and acquire an undesirable flavor. One big part of the deterioration process revolves around the build-up and release of carbon dioxide, which can create the beautiful bloom during brewing and the exchange of certain sulfurous compounds, which contribute the exquisite natural flavors and aromas of certain Arabica coffees.

The chemical structures within a raw coffee bean subject the bean to high roasting temperatures thereby setting a fuse on freshness. It is recommended to have coffee soon after roasting. There is a peak “resting time” following each roasting process before the coffee’s body and signature flavors tend to surface.

4 Types of Coffee Roasts

There are four general varieties of roasts, going from light brown in color to a deep black. Lighter coffees are milder, while darker coffees tend to be more bitter. However, contrary to popular belief, the lighter roasts tend to have a higher concentration of caffeine.

1. Light Coffee Roasts

These include Light City, Half City, and Cinnamon. They are light brown in color, and there is no oil on the surface due to their short roasting time.

2. Medium Coffee Roasts

These may be called City Roast, American, or Breakfast. They have a stronger flavor and are a medium brown, again with little to no oil present on the surface.

3. Medium Dark Coffee Roasts

Typically called Full City Roast, these have a rich dark color with some oil present and a slightly bittersweet aftertaste.

4. Dark Coffee Roasts

The names of coffees in the Dark Roast category include Espresso, French Roast, Italian Roast, Viennese, High Roast, European Roast, New Orleans Roast, and Continental. They are characterized by oily black beans and are decidedly bitter.

Sometimes, these different variations of dark roast are just a matter of regional naming conventions, while others may indicate the beans have been roasted a bit longer or were derived from a different source. You will typically find that most dark roasts have a fairly similar taste, however.

The Coffee Roasting Process

Your coffee beans start out as small, spongy green beans barely recognizable as coffee beans. Once they have been roasted to about 200 to 250 degrees Fahrenheit internal bean temperature, they have reached the yellow stage, although the bean’s appearance may be orange or tan. Steam may rise from the roaster during this stage, as moisture escapes. Once the bean’s internal temperature exceeds 250 degrees, it has arrived at the light brown stage, heading towards the first crack, which usually occurs around 355 degrees. This is when the seed cracks and the bean expands. At 400 degrees, the beans are now is recognizable as the coffee bean you are likely most familiar with. Once the bean reaches 415 to 425 degrees, the beans is in the second crack phase. Finally, at 450-510 degrees, the bean has reached the dark roast phase, with that black, oily bean that yields bitter, dark coffee that some people cannot do without.

If you get your own coffee roasting machine and decide to roast your own coffee at home, it may take a while before you get the hang of roasting the beans exactly right. Once you do, however, you’re sure to impress your friends and enjoy the pleasure of having coffee taste exactly the way you want it to. Of course, you can also go to your favorite café and enjoy your favorite cup of coffee just the way you like it without all the painstaking effort of picking out the beans, roasting the beans, grinding the beans, and then filtering the grounds. But of course, it’s your coffee experience, so how you choose to enjoy it is totally up to you!


Grant is the man behind Just Coffee Maker, a site dedicated to the art of brewing coffee manually! Grants's writing is unpretentious and really captures the beauty of the ritual in making great coffee.

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