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Coffee beans are not black or brown when they’re taken off the plant. In their original form, the beans are green, but when they’re roasted, a coffee bean will expand to nearly double its original size. They’ll also change color to a tone closer to what you see in coffee products, and the density of the bean will also alter. During the roasting process, the surface of the bean will appear oily as it darkens.
Roasting, while giving the blend a deeper, more ‘coffee-like’ flavor, also eventually deadens much of the ‘origin flavor’; that is, the taste and aroma that stems from the soil and weather conditions of the area where the bean was originally grown. Coffee beans from regions such as Kenya and Java are usually roasted a lot more lightly so as to not destroy their signature flavor.
The longer you roast coffee beans, the more original flavor is lost, but that is replaced by the ‘roasting flavor’. These are often sold in categories of degree of roast, rather than origin, ranging from Light Cinnamon Roast through to Vienna Roast, all the way through to deep-roasted varieties like French Roast.
But why buy pre-roasted beans when you can roast your own at home? Home roasting is easier than you might think, and with the recent boom in coffee’s popularity, home roasting has become very popular. Computerized drum roasters can be purchased which make home roasting abundantly simple, handling the beans in much the same way that a popcorn popper might v with hot air rather than hot metal v which keeps the roasting even and limits burning.
While home roasting is a great way to get the most flavorful cup of Joe possible, once the beans have been roasted, they will quickly begin to lose their flavor. Even under the best of conditions, a taste of bitterness will emerge about a week after roasting, so if you’re going to home roast, the best option is to do so a small bit at a time, roasting only the beans you’re sure you’ll need over the coming week and a half.
Green beans can last for several months, or even longer than a year, so home roasters can stock several varieties to allow themselves the maximum choice and quality. The ability to roast as little as 3 ounces at a time allows home roasters to experiment with different blends of grounds, without wasting large quantities of beans.