Thursday, September 4, 2014

Modern And Efficient Specialty Coffee Roasters

By Kerri Stout

Coffee beans grown in different micro-climates are distinctive from one another and this is just one of the factors that affects their quality. Plant a great variety in the wrong soil or at the wrong altitude and the resulting product is inferior. Roasting is another factor that affects quality and modern specialty coffee roasters allow for more control over the roasting process. Despite the fact that these machines are usually user-friendly, it takes technical skill and experience to take the best varieties and reveal their full potential by roasting.

The crude machines of the past vary greatly from the computerized versions available today but the basic principles are still the same. The bean is taken from its green state and roasted to release the flavors. Drum machines are commonly used and these work by rotating and causing the beans to tumble around with gas or electricity providing the heat source. Hot air machines are also used and beans are roasted on a currant of hot air.

The drum machines come in many different sizes, from those suitable for roasting high volumes to those that sit on a tabletop. They are designed to allow for manual, semi-automatic or automatic control of roasting. The use of the machine with its monitoring tools helps with efficiency and consistency of results.

A green bean is spongy and soft while a roasted bean is crunchy. The color, smell and density is changed by the roasting process. Chemical changes take place as beans are quickly brought to high temperatures. As soon as they reach a certain point, they are cooled down to stop the process. It is a matter of seconds between perfection and a ruined batch.

The variables of the roasting process include factors such as the size of batches and the moisture content of the beans. Various factors are monitored and recorded throughout the roasting process. Time taken and temperatures reached are very important factors.

The beans start to crack when heated and the times at which the different cracks occur is used to determine levels of roast. If the roast is allowed to continue heating for even seconds too long, the batch can be ruined. Color changes during the heating process and beans turn from yellow to brown. Changes in size also occur as they begin to swell but at the same time they are losing moisture so they weigh less.

Various measurements are taken and adjustments are made to balance flavors and bring out the subtleties of each variety. Once a roast profile is established for a particular variety, it is used to promote consistency between batches. Specialized names are selected for various roasts.

An increasing awareness in the subtleties and complexities of this beverage is developing worldwide. Many companies, both large and small, have sprung up specializing in both roasting and selling the equipment. The perfect roast is very much a subjective choice and people often keep searching until they find one that suits their taste.

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