Roasting: extremely complicated or not?

Ask anyone in the coffee industry and they will usually say that roasting is an intricate, difficult, and complicated process that takes years and years to learn. I assumed the same thing until talking to Collin, a barista and manager at Coffee House North West (Sterling Coffee Roasters) in NW Portland. He said, after hesitating to answer “I’m not gonna say it’s not intricate, cause in one way it is, but I will say this coffee roasting is simply: turning green coffee to brown coffee… reducing the moisture in the coffee, and caramelizing the sugars.” He said “I’ll put it this way, if I put you in front of a roaster, you could be roasting great coffee in 30 minutes.” Often times barista’s and roaster’s try to make roasting this artsy abstract process and claim they are the ones making a coffee delicious, when really, roasting is simply drawing out flavors in coffee that are pleasant, and reducing the ones that aren’t.
Sometimes people will say things like “I was able to draw out the citrus in this coffee,” when really, that coffee was already intrinsically citrusy and he was just simply drawing out that innate flavor profile. It’s as simple as taking a certain coffee and drawing out intrinsic qualities to produce an amazing product. Let’s skip the hoopla.


2 comments on “Roasting: extremely complicated or not?

  1. LoveHoundUK says:

    Nice post. So you think we could be roasting coffee quite quickly and the important part would be to concentrate on getting the right green coffee. Ones with plenty of quality.

    Do you roast coffee at home ?
    What machine do you use ?
    I’d love to start roasting at home and quickly move on to Artisan roasting selling to friends, the public and top restaurants, who could offer something a little different to their customers.

    • wpate527 says:

      As far as specialty roasting companies, most of them import high quality green coffee. So my goal was to highlight professional roasting technique and not so much home roasting. So the point of my post was too bring about discussion on bigger roasters that brag about all these lofty details about their roasting protocols, when in reality, roasting is as simple as you make it. And isn’t simplicity beautiful? So in theory, high quality coffee is indeed of upmost importance. As far as home roasting, before you invest in a mini sample roaster, try a popcorn popper. It’s a lot cheaper and Pretty much what most great roasters start on. Thanks for the comment!

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