Coffee beans travel a long way before they make it into your cup. They have to grow, be harvested, processed, shipped, and roasted before you can buy them in the store.
In this article, we’ll look at the roasting process and answer the question: What exactly is a coffee roasting profile?
The coffee roasting profile is the time, temperature, and cooling processes a roaster uses to bring out the specific and unique flavors of whichever coffee beans they are roasting.
It’s a key process in a coffee’s journey. Roasting has the single biggest impact on how coffee tastes in your cup.
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The Basics Of A Roast Profile
A coffee roast profile refers to how a coffee roaster roasts a particular coffee.
This typically includes deciding on the temperature, duration, and other techniques used during the roasting process to achieve a certain flavor profile in the final coffee.
The roast profile has a major impact on the flavor and overall quality of the coffee. Thus, different roasters will often have unique roast profiles for their coffee.
A coffee roast profile curve is a graph that shows the changes in temperature and other variables during the coffee roasting process.
This can be a helpful tool for coffee roasters to understand and analyze their roast profile. They also use it to adjust as needed to achieve their desired results.
The roast profile curve typically shows temperature changes over time and other important variables. These include the rate of rise or the time at which certain key events, such as the first crack or second crack, occur.
By studying the roast profile curve, roasters can better understand how their roasting techniques affect the coffee and adjust as needed.
TL;DR: A roast profile helps the roaster decide on and track how their coffee tastes.
Light Roast Vs. Dark Roast
Two basic roast profiles you have probably heard of are light and dark roasts. Light roast and dark roast are terms used to describe the level of roasting that coffee beans have undergone.
Light roast coffee is roasted for a shorter period at a lower temperature, resulting in a coffee that is lighter in color and has a more delicate flavor with brighter acidity. On the other hand, dark roast coffee is roasted for longer at a higher temperature, resulting in a darker color and a fuller body with a more robust and pronounced flavor.
The roast level can have a major impact on the flavor of the coffee. So, roasters will often use different roast levels to highlight the unique characteristics of the coffee beans they are using.
Specialty coffee roasters will create specific and unique roast profiles for each coffee on their menu.
The Impact Of The Roast On Flavor
One question you might ask yourself now is, “does the roast change the flavor of the coffee?”
The roast profile of the beans does have a significant impact on the flavor of the final coffee.
The roasting process causes several chemical changes in the beans, all of which change the final taste of the coffee.
For example, the sugars in the beans caramelize, adding sweetness and complexity to the flavor. That’s known as the Maillard Reaction. It’s the same process that happens when you caramelize onions.
The roasting process also causes the beans to expand, releasing more of the oils and flavors locked inside the beans. The longer the beans are roasted, the more intense and robust the flavor will be.
For example, a light roast may highlight the bright, acidic flavors of the coffee, while a dark roast may emphasize the chocolatey or nutty flavors.
Ultimately, the flavor of the coffee will depend on several factors, including the type of beans used, the roast level, and the brewing method.
What Happens During A Roast?
The beans are heated to high temperatures to trigger chemical reactions that alter their flavor and character.
As the beans are heated, they will change color. They go from a greenish color to a yellowish color and then to a light brown color.
The beans will also begin to emit aromas as they are heated. These aromas include grassy and vegetal aromas that turn into more complex, roasted aromas as the roasting progresses.
As the beans continue to roast, they will expand in size and take on a more recognizable coffee bean shape.
This is known as the "first crack" and is a key point in roasting coffee beans.
At this stage, the beans will have developed a light to medium roast flavor with a balanced acidity and a slightly sweet taste.
If the beans are roasted for longer, they will reach a second key point known as the "second crack."
The beans will have reached a darker roast level, with a fuller body and more intense, robust flavors. The second crack is often associated with a more bitter and smoky flavor, a darker color, and a slightly oily surface on the beans.
The exact roasting process will vary depending on the specific techniques and preferences of the roaster, but these are the general stages that occur during a coffee roast.