Roasting Is Key In Coffee Flavors
With only two major types of coffee beans in production, it’s hard to imagine how coffee ends up with so many flavors. It seems no two brands taste exactly the same and cups from different specialty stores always have their own distinct appeal.
So, what is it the makes beans taste different? Aside from added flavors and growing locations that can make even the same kind of bean take on a different flavor, the key is in the roasting process.
Master roasters know their stuff and they know how to work beans of the same variety into different creations that take on their own distinct style. Working with extremely high temperatures and a process that calls for precision, these roasters know their stuff and can be considered gourmets on the level of a fine wine maker.
Using a specialized roasting device to ensure all beans are cooked evenly and roasted and turned as they should be, these roasters wield temperatures and times as their ingredients for creating different types of brew.
In general, however, there is a timing rule of thumb for creating the main classes of coffee beans used on the world market today.
Americans, for example, tend to like a “lighter” flavor. Watered down, some say, the American coffee market gets a coffee that’s roasted for only about seven minutes. This doesn’t give the beans’ sugar enough time to fully process and create the heavier flavor of the European roasts.
A full-bodied, medium roast is produced by a roaster who leaves beans in the system for about nine minutes; a little more at times, too. This produces a blend that’s a bit stronger than the American roast, but lighter than the versions made expressly for espresso.
European coffee tends to be darker and richer in taste. Much like European beers versus American creations, the end result is a thicker, richer and darker coffee. To create this, master roasters keep their beans under heavy watch for about 12 minutes.
To create the caramelized beans needed for the Italian creation espresso, the beans must be burned. For other creations this would be considered a failure of the roast, but not for the rich drink perfected by the Italians. This blend requires a full 14 minutes under heat to create the smoky flavor necessary for espresso. In this process, the beans actually do start to burn and the sugars within the beans themselves fully caramelize. The end result is the darkest blend used.
While each roaster uses their own tricks of the trade to create masterpieces out of a pile of beans, the basic varieties rely on different roasting times. A single batch of arabica beans, for example, can take on four different flavors entirely depending on how the roaster handles the blend. Plus, this of course, doesn’t mention designer additives that can be included in the mixes, such as mint or chocolate.