By: Rafael Teodoro
Hello, coffee lovers!
Surely you've seen your favorite drink marketed as 'freshly roasted coffee' before. But what exactly does that mean? Well, marketing-speak aside, freshness absolutely counts when it comes to coffee… no different than many of the foodstuffs you enjoy. Coffee beans change continuously after they're roasted, primarily via gradual off-gassing of CO2 from inside the bean. Think of the fizz running out from a soda/soft drink or beer, but measured in days, not minutes! Roasting your own coffee is one way to ensure your own 'freshly roasted' quality and flavor.
I started roasting my own coffees about 6 years ago. I started out by modifying a simple popcorn air-popper. This is how most home-roasters start out, and you can make some very delicious coffees using this method. Soon enough however, I found myself migrating to a purpose-built home roaster. This helped me up my game to larger batches, while also giving me more consistency and control over my roasts.
Behmor 1600 Plus (Source: www.thebestproductshouse.com)
While freshness is the obvious 'prize' to home-roasting, there's a few more pleasures that keep me an ardent practitioner:
- It's FUN! New hobbies and passions make the whole process holistic!
First and foremost, home roasting to your liking is very engaging and FUN! If you enjoy cooking, creating art, gardening, or other hands-on pursuits, shaping your own sacred morning ritual drink from raw-to-cup, is a great feeling of satisfaction. You may be wondering, how do we keep it fun as time passes?
2. Designing your own coffee roast: Personalizing and making it truly yours!
Keep that passion burning by designing your own coffee roast. Much like the doneness of a steak or the reduction of a sauce, coffee can be presented via different degrees of roast. You've surely seen 'dark roast', or perhaps 'medium roast' labels on coffees before. Roasting your own coffee means YOU are in control of the roast degree, and thus flavor profile, of a given coffee bean. I enjoy putting my own spin on each roast, and designing each batch to match the brew method or occasion I want for that coffee.
3.The sensory element: A fireworks display for your nose, eyes, and taste buds!
Designing your own coffee roast is one thing, but have you ever smelled coffee beans in the middle of roasting? It's absolutely HEAVENLY. In fact, you'll be taken on a 10-minute olfactory vacation of sorts, shifting from fresh-cut grass, to bread dough rising in the oven, to the scent of sweet butter melting on that just-baked bread. The changing of the bean's color and the sounds of the cracks that indicate their progression through the roast are other signals that take you on the caffeinated journey.
4. Going pro! Seeing how you measure up against the professionals.
One last fun aspect of home coffee roasting is a process called “cupping.” Cupping is an industry-standard protocol by which coffee industry professionals evaluate coffee or coffees, allowing grading, comparisons, and quality control of a roasted coffee.
That said, it's easy and fun for any coffee enthusiast to do. In this example, I got my hands on a batch of Colombian coffee roasted by a professional roastery, and also acquired the exact same raw (or 'green') beans from the same farm/origin. I roasted up these beans to a roast profile that was similar to the roastery's batch, and then proceeded to conduct my own cupping session. I evaluated things like aroma, acidity, body, and described what kind of flavors I was tasting in each roast. Recognize where my roast was able to 'match' the reference roast, and where I might try to improve upon my process. All the while tasting and enjoying. And best of all, unless my roast was a complete failure, I then get to enjoy the coffees over the next few days as a part of my own family's caffeination requirements!