A Guide to Coffee Roasting To be able to produce coffee, it starts with green coffee beans, soft spongy beans that smell like grass, which are thoroughly dried and later roasted and brewed to come up with an aromatic, flavorful drink. The process of producing coffee is by roasting the green coffee beans on a gradual phase such that when the desired temperature is reached, an aroma, which is characteristic of coffee, is emitted and the roasted beans are now in a state which can be referred to as coffee. Levels of organic compounds, such as amino acids, protein, sugars and caffeine, a stimulant which is linked with the central nervous system, are contained in green coffee beans and when these beans are roasted a chemical reaction takes place, which is known as the Maillard reaction, which is a chemical reaction between amino acids and sugars, and this reaction produces brown, roasted beans that possess a distinct aroma and flavor. It takes years of trials and errors to perfectly roast green coffee beans into good, quality coffee. Coffee roasters know when is the right roasting time to achieve the kind of coffee that can come out and, basically, there are four categories – light, medium, medium-dark, and dark. Any of these categories provide the distinct aroma of coffee but the flavor differs for each category.
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Coffee roasters know when the coffee beans are roasted into which category based on the sound it produces during roasting and at specific temperatures, such that at 196 degrees Centigrade the first crack sound is produced, marking the beginning of a light roast coffee, and at 224 degrees Centigrade, the second crack is sounded.
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The characteristics of light roast coffee are light brown color, mild taste, and no visible oil present on the coffee, a result of not too long of roasting so that the inherent oils in the beans have not surfaced out. Light roast coffee are marketed into familiar names, such as Light City, Half City, and Cinnamon Coffee. The characteristics of medium roast coffee are medium brown, has a stronger flavor than light roast coffee and, still, non-oily. City Coffee, American Coffee, and Breakfast Coffee are examples of names which refer to medium roast coffee. While with medium dark roast coffee, it has that rich, dark color where some oil breaks out on the surface, giving a slight bittersweet aftertaste. Medium dark roast coffee is also referred to as Full City coffee. The following characteristics are found in dark roast coffee: shiny due to the oil that comes out during roasting, has a bitter taste, less acidity and slightly dark to charred color. These are the popular names of dark roast coffee beans – High, Continental, New Orleans, European, Espresso, Viennese, Italian, and French.