Coffee Roasting Series #2 - 5 Basic Roasting Principles

5 Basic Roasting Principles

For the beginner, coffee roasting is highly confusing. There are many methods and many roasting machines. When you conduct research online, you find disagreeing online forum discussions, and the advice you get is from roasters whose coffee you will never taste.


If you read the books and listen to experts, often the most basic and important principles get lost in the noise of someone wanting to sound scientific. Confusion for new roasters lends experts financial security, as confused newbies need to spend lots of money on books, training, and consulting.


Coffee roasting is the fulfillment of flavor potential in a given bean, balancing acidity, body and sweetness. Max sweetness doesn't always make a good coffee, as those coffees can be too thin (or clear). This means they don't have much impact or presence in that sweet flavor. Max boldness isn’t always best, because sweetness and acidity are both reduced. You are always seeking a balance. For any bean, there are a range of balances you will find pleasant.


But these balances are often of secondary concern to a new roaster. You might read that you can extend Millard to get more body, or reduce ROR during development to extend it while keeping coffee light and sweet. But if you don't get a few key principles of roasting down, extending or reducing Mallard time will not help you, and roasting super light while still reaching 20% development time will not be enough to make your coffee actually "seem" sweet to taste.


The 5 basic principles I will discuss are: 1. Charge and Soak, 2. Momentum and heat application, 3. Airflow, 4. Heat reduction and ROR curves, and 5. Phases of roasting. My approach is to tell you exactly what is helpful to know about these aspects of roasting, and nothing else, so that you can focus on the things that will get you from bad coffee to good, and ignore all the noise.


Next post, we will begin discussing the first principle, which is the Charge and Soak.