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.

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