Home Coffee Roasting Basics. What are the different types of Coffee Roasts
Do you know your types of coffee roasts? Light, dark, medium, city, city plus, French, Vienna, Italian, American, and espresso are commonly used words to describe the types of coffee roasts. There is very little industry standardization for roasting which can cause confusion. In general, roasts fall into four color categories. We will explain and clarify what the common roasting levels are and their characteristics.
After a few minutes you will hear the first ‘crack’. The bean will have visibly expanded in size and will be light brown in color. There will be no visible oil on the surface because the beans are not roasted long enough for the oils to break through to the surface. These roasts are generally preferred for milder coffee varieties. Often this roast will exhibit more of its ‘origin flavor’. Beans from regions such as Java, Kenya, Ethiopia, Hawaii, and Jamaica are commonly roasted to this level so that their signature characteristics come through in the flavor. This roast tends to be higher in acidity and lighter in body.
Medium Roasts (aka City, American, Breakfast)
Shortly after the first ‘crack’ but before the ‘second crack’ occurs the beans are considered to be at a medium roast. Beans will be medium brown in color and still exhibit a non-oily surface. This roast is generally preferred in the United States. There will be sweeter tones than the light roast and the body will announce more balance in acidy, aroma, and flavor. This is a great starting point for coffees you’re roasting for the first time. Generally, most coffees taste good at this roast point and it will be easy to gauge whether a lighter or darker roast is needed to suit the bean or your own taste preferences.
Medium-Dark Roasts (aka Full City, Continental)
You will hear the bean begin its ‘second crack’ and you will see oils rise to the surface. The bean will become a rich, dark color and the surface of the bean will appear slightly shiny. Taste at this point will be spicy, chocolate, dark berries and less acidity. You will have a fuller bodied cup and aromas and flavors are more evident. Finishes tend to be drier, more like baker’s chocolate or dry wine. Central American, South American, and Indonesian coffees generally taste very good at this roast point.
Dark Roast (aka Italian, French, European)
Beans will be shiny and have an oily surface. The beans will begin to smoke and the sugars begin to carbonize. Tastes will be smoky/sweet with lighter body. The darker the roast the less acidity will be found in the cup. Here is a good place to note that there is no such thing as an “espresso roast.” Espresso is a beverage, not a roasting point. Beans intended for espresso are generally roasted Medium-dark to dark. We’ve found that Brazilian and Indonesian beans stand up well to a Dark Roast.
Our Trip To Guatemala to visit Finca Vista Hermosa Coffee Plantation
Here are some pictures from our trip to visit Edwin Sr. and Edwin Jr. at their plantation in Huehuetenago, Guatemala: in March of ’06.
Edwin Jr. is responsible for the growing of the coffee, the export to America (he has a place in Washington) and finally the distribution. He has also taken up consulting work for other farms. Without Edwin we would not have our wonderful Guatemalan Finca Vista Hermosa as well as other fine coffees from Guatemala.
Edwin is one of the most knowledgeable growers that we have met. He strives for excellence and is willing to donate his time to help others. He helps farms increase their profit by growing exceptional coffee. This money than goes to paying workers higher wages and providing basic necessities such as health care and education.
While we were visiting the farm in Guatemala we saw them nearing completion of a new clinic where they would bring in doctors to provide free healthcare to the workers. They also helped maintain and build a school where the government could only fund half of the project. In return, Edwin has some of the most dedicated workers in the region.
Here at Burman Coffee we do all we can to help Edwin and his projects. We hope to continue helping Edwin grow, and strive to find more people and coffees throughout the world that carry similar characteristics and drive as Edwin and his coffees.
We are really excited to now be carrying the Gene Home Coffee Roasting Pan. We’ve been experimenting with it and have really liked the results. Hopefully we’ll get some of our own pics and videos up. For now, here’s some quick stats and info about the roasting pan.
Scenes for the 2016 Specialty Coffee Association of America Expo – Atlanta, Georgia
Over the weekend of April 15-17, 2016 Burman Coffee traveled to Atlanta where were able to check out the newest and coolest in the coffee world. We tasted a lot of great coffees, tested new roasters, and met some great people. Here are some of the photo highlights from our trip.
Now you’ve just roasted the perfect coffee. What do you need to know to be sure you get the best taste when you brew it? The NCA (National Coffee Association USA) has some important factors to consider before you start brewing your perfect cup of coffee.
Be sure all equipment is cleaned thoroughly. After each use rinse your equipment with hot water and dry it with an absorbent towel. Check that no grounds have been left to collect on any part of the equipment and that there is no build-up of coffee oil. Such residue can impart a bitter or rancid flavor to future cups of coffee.
Next you will want to be sure you have the right grind for the brewing method. Over or under extracting can cause your coffee to taste bitter or flat. Find out what the recommended grind is and adjust your grinder accordingly. Never reuse your coffee grounds. Once brewed, the desirable coffee flavors have been extracted and only the bitter undesirable ones are left.
The water you use is VERY important to the quality of your coffee. Try to use filtered or bottled water if your tap water isn’t good or imparts a strong odor or taste, like chlorine. If you have to use tap water let it run a few seconds before filling your coffee pot and be sure to use cold water. Do not use distilled or softened water. Ideal water temperature is between 195 and 200 degrees F. You can always use a thermometer to check your water temperature or remember that as a general rule water reaches its boiling point at 212 degrees, so when your water begins to boil take it off the heat source and let stand to cool for a couple of seconds and it should be at the ideal temperature.
The amount of time that the water is in contact with the coffee grounds is another important factor affecting the taste of your coffee. If the taste of your coffee is not optimal, it is possible that you are either over extracting (the brew time is too long) or under extracting (the brew time is too short). Experiment with the contact time until you can make a cup of coffee that suits your tastes perfectly.
Does the grind of your coffee really make that much of a difference? Absolutely it does! Before you conclude that your coffee is “too bitter” or “too weak” consider your grind. We’ve put together some helpful hints about what’s the best grind for your brewing method. These are just guidelines and not hard and fast rules.
Recipe for creating a London Fog, a delicious drink made with Earl Grey Tea.
A well-loved classic, Earl Grey is arguably the most popular of all flavored teas. Bergamot oil comes from the peel of a small citrus cultivated mostly in Italy, and lends a fantastic spicy-sour flavor as well as aromas which enliven the palate and sinuses. The blue mallow flowers included in this special blend improve the color while also complimenting the bergamot with subtle lavender. Great for a morning pick-me-up, this strong tea with stimulating vapors, warm flavors, and ample caffeine will grab your attention!
Just the thing on a gloomy winter day for a yummy pick me up!
Coffee is our passion. But when our taste buds are seeking a little variety, or for health and wellness, we are so happy to have our exceptional assortment of teas. More and more Americans are waking up to the world of tea – white, green, black, and more; from the artisanal processing methods of Chinese Oolongs and Pu-Erhs, to the fortifying health elixirs of Japanes Matchas, Genmaichas, and Kukichas, to the shockingly sweet & spicy shots of Indian Masala Chai, all have distinct styles and traditions; often flavored or scented to amplify and complicate existing aromas, like Jasmine, Mint, Rose, bergamot (Earl Grey), and pine smoke (Lapsang Souchong) – there are countless unique flavors!
We would like to invite our customers to explore the wonderful world of tea – also known as “cha” in China and Japan, or “chai” in India – with us, and to savor this ancient beverage enjoyed by more people than any drink besides pure water! Sometimes choosing from a list of foreign or fanciful names may feel intimidating, so we are providing a few primers to get you started.
Teas are categorized into “White,” “Green,” “Oolong,” “Black,” and “Pu-Erh” types, each with distinctive characteristics and flavors. All teas come from the Camellia sinensis plant, an evergreen shrub native to China, and while regional weather conditions and soil types contribute to the flavor profile of each tea, the most notable differences are determined by the way the tea is processed.
White teas are minimally processed, with a very light, sweet flavor and high antioxidant content – like a cupful of new spring growth. Nearly all white teas hail from Fujian Province in Eastern China, and they tend to be quite rare in the West. Very young buds are picked when they are still tightly enclosed in new, pale, silky leaves. Tea bushes with large, fleshy buds are used for most white teas – these buds become Silver Needles, while buds plus the next two leaves become White Peony teas. The gentle flavor profiles of white teas make them excellent for adding subtle fruit and floral flavors. White teas are typically steeped in 170 degree water for 3 minutes.
Green teas are most popular in China and Japan. Green teas are heat-processed to prevent oxidation. Premium teas are generally steamed or pan-fried, and then Sencha teas are rolled into fine strands, Gunpowder teas are rolled into pellets, and other types are painstakingly shaped and tied into elaborate “blossoms” that unfurl in the bottom of the cup or teapot. With less processing, leaves plucked in the morning are ready to be brewed that night, and green teas provide the most antioxidants and consequent health benefits. Avoiding oxidation allows green tea to retain its color, tannins, vitamin C, chlorophyll, and minerals. The taste is therefore more astringent and more subtle than Oolong or black teas, and the effect on the body is more fortifying than stimulating. Japan has created numerous interesting health elixirs, including Matcha (finely powdered tea), Genmaicha (tea with toasted rice), and Kukicha (tea twigs). The astounding diversity of Chinese green teas presents a seemingly endless variety of flavor profiles. Green teas are mostly steeped at 180 degrees for 2-4 minutes.
Oolong teas are half-way between Greens and Blacks, making them tasty, healthful, and stimulating – a completely satisfying tea, and a favorite of connoisseurs! These teas are partially oxidized as they go through a “withering” process, then they are rolled into balls, and eventually heated to stop oxidation at just the right moment. Depending on how long oxidation is allowed, Oolong teas can range from dark green to nearly black, and may contain a wide variety of flavors ranging from bright, astringent, and green to complex, nutty, and smoky. Oolong teas may be steeped between 180-200 degrees for 3-6 minutes.
Black teas are most popular in India and in the West. Indian teas were first cultivated by the British, who had previously traded tea with China. Brits in Northeast India discovered a wild tea variant, a sub-species called Camellia sinensis var. assamica, and put it to work in vast plantations. English Breakfast, Irish Breakfast, Earl Grey, Darjeeling & Ceylon teas all come from this rather different tea plant. To make black teas, leaves are withered in the sun, then rolled to break open tissues, so that inner chemicals react with the air (or “oxidize”) and begin to ferment. Leaves change from green to red and then eventually to brown or black. The oxidation process brings out new flavors, often fruity, floral, or malty. Black teas are generally steeped at boiling (212) for 3-5 minutes.
Pu-Erh teas mostly come from Yunnan Province in Southern China, and these rich and sophisticated products undergo an elaborate fermentation process, including aging. Freshly-picked leaves are briefly withered, then partially heat-processed to stop most oxidation. Then leaves are rolled, but *not* dried and packed like other teas – enzymes, bacteria, and fungi continue to slowly ferment the leaves and to produce rich, complex flavors. Traditional Pu-Erh teas are fermented for at least 6 months, sometimes up to 30 years! Nowadays most are made using an enhanced fermentation process that simulates long aging in less than 1 year. These teas are revered for their medicinal benefits, cutting cholesterol, aiding digestion, warming the body, dispelling the effects of alcohol, and refreshing the mind. And what a flavor profile! A good Pu-Erh is like a single-malt Scotch – unique, rich, with a powerful aroma and best savored sip by sip with friends. Pu-Erh teas may be prepared like black teas. But they are best enjoyed in the traditional style – a series of small cups, steeped in clean boiling water for 15 seconds, then 30 seconds, then 45 seconds, etc, up to 8 times. White, Green & Oolong teas may be prepared in a similar manner; see “How to Steep the Perfect Cup of Tea.“
Herbal “teas” are not, in fact, teas at all – Rooibos, Chamomile, Hibiscus, etc contain no Camellia sinensis and no caffeine. They are still delicious and healthful, of course! Most herbal infusions are best when steeped in boiling water for at least 5 minutes, sometimes up to 20 minutes (this is especially true of herbs with medicinal benefits – longer steeping means more of the good stuff!). With long steeps, remember a lid on your cup to keep it warm.
With so many different types, it is impossible to sum up the flavor profiles and health benefits of our many herbal infusions. We continue searching for more special herbs and blends to supplement our many exceptional teas. Check out this special article all about our favorite herbal infusions!
Freshness is of vital importance, as the delicate and complex flavors of teas fade over time. The very finest teas will go to market only days after they are plucked in the spring and early summer. Unfortunately we rarely see these in the United States. At Burman Coffee Traders we seek out only the freshest teas. We store everything in airtight containers and send your order in resealable bags to ensure that you receive the highest quality possible.
This is the traditional way of preparing coffee beans for market and is the preferred method for many origins. Ripe cherries are spread on the ground in the sun. When the fruit is dry, it’s pounded and winnowed to separate the beans away from the dried fruit and hulls. Then they’re then graded, weighed and bagged. Natural beans generally are varied in color and shape. Machinery is commonly used to hull, separate and clean the dried beans. Natural coffees exhibit heavier body and flavor profiles with deeper-toned and more varied fruit, chocolate, spice and savory notes than the same beans prepared by the washed method. Natural coffees tend to have more chaff when roasting.
Washed or Wet Processing
Washed processing has 2 stages. The first “wet milling” stage starts with several washing and brushing cycles to separate the sweet pulp completely from the hull encasing coffee beans known as ‘parchment’. Next, the cleaned parchment soaks in concrete pools for several hours. They are then dried.
In the second “dry milling” stage, the beans pass through a series of machines. They’re hulled and de-chaffed, graded by high-speed sorters to regularize size, color and/or density. The extremely consistent size, shape, color and flavor of beans processed by the washed method facilitates larger batch sizes and longer, darker roasting. In the cup, washed coffees exhibit bright, clean flavor and aroma, with notes of fruit, citrus, floral and spice. Washed coffees have light to medium-heavy body, and provide a blend’s crisp, vital first impression.
Semi-dry or Semi-Washed Processing
A hybrid process used in Indonesia, Brazil and other origins with abundant water. It is used to improve the flavor and physical consistency of Natural coffees and is used mainly for Specialty-grade beans due to its higher expense. The process begins with removal of the outer cherry using wet pulping machines. The beans, still coated with sweet pulp, are ‘rested’ – cured for up to a day to develop the characteristic ‘Natural’ flavor profile. The pulp is again rinsed and the parchment coffee, still with traces of pulp, is fully sun-dried. Grading, weighing and bagging are accomplished in mechanized dry mills similar to those used in wet processing. By gently removing most of the fruit before drying, controlling the amount of pulp contact during drying, then using mechanized dry milling – coffee flavor and physical consistency is greatly improved. The beans retain the same flavor and body as Natural process coffees.
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