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Coffee Roasting

DEVELOPING A COFFEE’S FLAVOR -- ABOUT THE ROAST

After coffee was first discovered, it took man several hundred years to discern that roasting the dried bean released the essential oils holding the coffee flavor the world has grown to love. Many methods were used in the development of this process, but it was finally ascertained that uniform heat transmission and constant movement of the beans produced the best roast with the most consistent flavor. The point at which the oil begins to develop deep within the bean is the chemical change know as “pyrolysis.” The techniques used in developing this transition is where the art of the roaster comes into play.

Each coffee has different characteristics and it’s the job of the roaster to maximize the positive aspects of the coffee’s flavor.

We at Maui Oma Coffee Roasters believe the optimum flavor for Drip or French Press brewing of a specific varietal is generally best achieved when the oils are drawn out to a point just below the surface of the bean. This point immediately precedes the first singes of the bean’s surface which signifies the “dark roast” stages of roasting. This roast translates to Agtron rating number 45, and is our standard roast, often called “Full City Roast.”

Agtron rating in roasting is an industry standard set of numbers that corresponds to different shades of brown that reflect the various stages in the development of the roasted coffee bean. Agtron numbers range from #25 being the darkest and #95 being the lightest. Most coffees are roasted between #35 and #55. Though color can tell something about the flavor of the coffee, there are many other factors in the roast besides color that can influence the flavor.

  • 1) The time of the roast
  • 2) The air flow
  • 3) Weather using conductive (Drum Roasted) or convective (Fluid Bed Roasted) heat
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    All of these factors can influence the development of flavor in the roast. Everyone’s tastes are different and so it follows that tastes in coffee vary as well. What is wonderful about coffee is that there is such a wide range of flavor characteristics available from this worldwide crop. Each growing area develops flavor characteristics depending on the type of plant, elevation, soil make-up, amount of direct sun, method of processing and many other factors. To help you find the coffee that best satisfies your taste it is important to understand a coffee’s specific taste qualities.

    Internationally, coffees are cupped and judged on the different aspects of their taste. Here are some of the main taste categories:

    ACIDITY – The tanginess you feel on the tip of your tongue. The brightness you feel on the sides. Not to be confused with sourness or bitterness that can be caused by defective beans or improper brewing. “Acidity” can be a most favorable characteristic.
    Descriptive terms: Mild, Sharp, Vibrant, Bright, Tangy, Edgy, Wild, Piquant

    BODY – The sense of heaviness and texture, where you can feel the volume of the coffee Full-bodied coffees are less likely to loss their flavor through milk.
    Descriptive terms: Rich, Smooth, Light, Heavy, Bread like, Flat

    AROMA – The scent that offers a coffee’s allure and reflects a coffee’s character.
    Descriptive terms: Flowery, Fruity, Herby, Dull, Smokey

    MOUTHFEEL – The impression the coffee creates throughout your mouth.
    Descriptive terms: Thick, Velvety, Creamy, Thin, Watery, Syrup-like, Soft, Astringent

    AFTERTASTE – The lingering taste and impression left after the coffee is gone. This impression can change.
    Descriptive terms: Clean, Thick, Lingering, Acrid, Warming, Sweet, Chocolaty, Spicy

    FLAVOR – The overall impression of how a coffee’s characteristics work together.
    Descriptive terms: Chocolaty, Spicy, Nut-like, Buttery, Earthy, Rubbery, Floral, Balanced