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The Way of the Roasted Bean
Unlocking the Rich Aromas: The Art and Science of Coffee Roasting

 

Ever wondered how those humble green coffee beans transform into the flavorful elixir that kick-starts your day? It all starts with the captivating process of coffee roasting, where science and art meld to create the perfect cup of Joe. At Strangely Warmed Coffee, Steve Slaybaugh passionately roasts coffee, applying his expertise to every batch. Uncover the interesting world of coffee roasting as we demystify the process.

 

 

Coffee roasting begins with the selection of high-quality coffee beans from various regions around the globe. Each region imparts unique characteristics to the beans, such as the smooth and mellow notes of Peruvian beans or the chocolatey notes of Colombian beans. These beans are carefully sourced and often purchased from farmers who dedicate their lives to cultivating exceptional coffee.

Once the beans are acquired, they make their way to the roastery and into the roasting machine. Toasting the beans brings out their rich flavors and enticing aromas. The roaster carefully controls temperature, airflow, and time to achieve the desired roast profile, as different roasts yield different taste profiles.

 

 

Roasting profiles are like recipes for coffee roasting. They define the specific temperature and time parameters to achieve a particular roast level—ranging from light to medium, medium-dark, and dark. Light roasts are known for their bright acidity and floral notes, while dark roasts boast bolder flavors with hints of chocolate and caramel.

As the beans twirl inside the roasting drum, they undergo an incredible transformation. The heat causes the beans to gradually change color, getting darker and darker as the temperature goes up. During this process, moisture evaporates, and the beans undergo chemical reactions that release the aromatic compounds responsible for the coffee's complex flavors.

At a specific point in the roasting process, the beans emit a distinct cracking sound known as the "first crack." This sound signifies that the beans have reached a light to medium roast level. Here, the beans develop a balance between acidity and sweetness, showcasing delightful flavor nuances.

 

 

The roaster's expertise lies in carefully timing the roast. At any moment after the first crack, the beans can be stopped to achieve the desired roast level. For a medium roast, the beans are usually stopped shortly after the first crack, while a dark roast is allowed to continue until the oils on the surface give a shiny appearance. As I saw first hand, while Steve roasted a batch of his Peruvian beans, intuition and experience are important for knowing just when to stop the roast.

 

 

After reaching the desired roast level, the beans must be cooled rapidly to halt the roasting process. This is achieved by transferring them to a cooling tray, where air is blown over them to lower their temperature. Proper cooling helps solidify the flavors and aromas developed during roasting.

Once the beans have cooled, they undergo a crucial phase of resting. During this period, the beans degas, releasing carbon dioxide accumulated during the roasting process. Resting allows the flavors to mature and harmonize, resulting in a more balanced and enjoyable cup of coffee. Finally, the beans are packaged, often with informative labels detailing their origin, roast level, and tasting notes.

 

 

Coffee roasting is an enchanting blend of artistry and science, where skilled roasters like Steve Slaybaugh at Strangely Warmed Coffee coax out the unique flavors hidden within each bean. From the careful selection of beans to the precise timing of the roast, every step contributes to the creation of your beloved morning brew. So the next time you savor a cup of coffee, take a moment to appreciate the craftsmanship and passion that went into each roasted bean.

 

Listen to Steve Slaybaugh of Strangely Warmed Coffee Co. explain his process on the Central Florida Cities Podcast. 

Click here to listen.

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