How Coffee Beans Are Roasted to Achieve Different Taste Profiles


You may be a die-hard fan of balanced, medium-intensity American roast coffee beans. Or perhaps you prefer the full-on flavour of gorgeous Italian coffee beans. But have you ever thought about the ways in which this diverse range of flavour profiles is achieved?

There are literally hundreds of ways of roasting coffee beans and it can be quite remarkable how dramatically the taste profiles can change with tiny variations in temperature.

Here we explore some of the most popular methods for roasting beans from around the world to give you the full picture of the magic that goes into your mug. Green Coffee Beans / Raw Coffee Beans Having been picked and packed abroad, raw, green coffee beans arrive at the roastery ready to be roasted to the required temperature.

Green coffee beans can be stored for up to two years at a temperature of around 22°C. Light Roast Coffee Beans Light roast coffee beans are roasted at temperatures of between 165° and 205°, until ‘the first crack’ appears.

Varieties include ‘cinnamon roast’ (196°), ‘American roast’ and ‘New England roast’ (205°). Higher temperatures kill acidity, so the relatively low temperature at which these beans are roasted makes them the most acidic.

Medium Roast Coffee Beans Regular or medium roast coffee beans have the most balanced taste profile and are sweeter than light roasts. Their balanced acidity, body and aroma result from the higher temperatures at which they are roasted (around 205° to 210°). ‘American roast’ is a popular example with a roasting temperature of 210°.

Rich Roast Coffee Beans / Espresso Coffee Beans Rich roast coffee beans are roasted at 210° to 240° to make varieties such as ‘city roast’, ‘semi-light roast’ (219°), ‘full city roast’ (225°) and ‘Vienna roast’ (230°). At these temperatures, coffee begins its ‘second crack’ and takes on a shiny, oily appearance.

The taste is less acidic, with a heavier body and subtle caramel and chocolate tones. These beans are most commonly used in ‘espresso’ blends. Dark Roast Coffee Beans Dark roast coffee beans are also referred to as ‘double roast’, ‘French roast (240°), Italian roast and ‘heavy roast’ (245°).

At these temperatures, most of the acidity is roasted out of the beans. They begin to smoke and the sugars within them begin to carbonise, giving them an oily, dark brown appearance. The taste is smoky with a burnt flavour.

Extra Dark Roast Coffee Beans Extra dark roast coffee beans such as ‘Spanish roast’ (250°) are roasted at temperatures above 245°. This virtually removes any remaining trace of acidity leaving a smoky, charcoal and tar-like taste profile. These beans have a thin and flat body and are very shiny and almost black in colour.

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