The Coffee Roasting Process from Beginning to End


Image courtesy of Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

In today’s day and age, it’s easy to get coffee in the palm of your hand within minutes. Whether you’re popping a pod into a Nespresso machine, making a pourover with your home coffee setup, or ordering a cup of Joe at your favorite cafe, coffee options are everywhere.

But even though it’s simple to order drip coffee or make your own latte at home, the beans that you use have all gone through a slow, intentional, and thoughtful process before arriving at the store or on your front porch. That process is known as roasting.

Today, we’re going to walk you through the three main steps of the coffee roasting process. From drying the coffee beans and browning them, to the caramelization, development, and cooling aspects of the process, there are a handful of steps involved in roasting coffee!

Without further ado, here’s the coffee roasting process from beginning to end!

Drying the Coffee Beans

Before any actual roasting can begin, it's essential for coffee roasters to dry the coffee beans. The drying phase of the coffee roasting process is incredibly important because it affects the temperature of the beans as well as the moisture levels.

If you are familiar with the chemical component and physical properties of coffee, then you know just how impactful even the slightest change in moisture or temperature can be for coffee beans. As such, coffee roasters are very careful during the entire roasting process but especially when moving through the drying phase.

The coffee beans are placed into what is known as a drum, which is a specialized piece of equipment used for the purpose of roasting coffee beans. Coffee beans are placed inside of the drum, which is then spun in circles over an open flame, which is responsible for heating the beans.

Sometimes, coffee roasters will either utilize an electric source or gas instead of an open flame, though actual fire is quite a common approach. As the beans are spun around inside of the drum, the moisture of the beans is changed into gas, or steam, which reduces the overall density of the beans, making them lighter.

The longer the beans are dried, the less dense they become, which ultimately impacts the type of roast those beans will be categorized as, ranging from light to medium or dark roasts. While the drying process might sound like something that takes little to no time to complete, this is simply not the case.

The best coffee roasters will take their time instead of rushing the drying phase. If roasters don't take things slow and steady, then they run the risk of heating the beans in an uneven manner.

This would result in an disproportionate distribution of heat across the board, meaning that not all of the beans in that same batch will be the same roast type or have the same density level. As such, coffee roasters take their time when drying coffee beans.

Browning and Caramelization of the Coffee Beans

After the coffee beans are dried, roasters move on to a step that involves the browning and caramelization of coffee beans. At this point in time, the coffee beans start to have and emit their own aromas, or smells.

There are a lot of chemical processes involved in the process of developing the aroma of coffee, but in short, the browning process implements something known as the Maillard reaction. In essence, the Maillard reaction refers to the point in time where amino acids within coffee beans become reactive with the sugar of coffee, resulting in the creation of the aroma we all know and love.

As the Maillard reaction works its magic and creates the aroma of coffee, roasters begin to draw out the process of roasting even longer. The purpose behind slowing things down even more is to extend the development process of the aromas.

Coffee roasters are waiting for there to be an audible popping sound because this signifies that the first crack has occurred, at which point roasters move into the third and final step in the roasting process.

Developing and Cooling the Coffee Beans

After drying the coffee beans and putting them through the slow-moving process of browning or caramelization, coffee roosters enter the developmental and cooling phase of roasting coffee. Just as roasters add heat to the equation in the beginning of the roasting process, they implement the opposite approach towards the end.

The coffee continues to crack the way it does in the second step of the process. Coffee pops like that because it has been warmed and chemically altered, resulting in the release of energy in the form of cracking. As the coffee's aroma continues to develop, roasters slow everything down even more in order to prevent coffee from burning or having a burned taste to it.

Coffee Beans Roasted by the Best Roasters Out There

Now that you know more about the coffee roasting process, you can look more closely at the information about where various coffee companies source their beans from. Paying attention to the origin of coffee beans can help you better understand which types of beans you prefer, too!

For instance, at Altruistic Joe, we have an array of coffee beans from different parts of the world. There’s our light-medium roast Ethiopian Heirloom coffee, light-medium Guatemalan Palencia coffee, medium roast Colombian coffee, medium roast Guatemalan Huehuetenango coffee, and medium roast El Salvador Monte Verde coffee.

That’s coffee from Ethiopia, Guatemala, Colombia, and El Salvador! Talk about variety. And even though we source coffee from multiple different countries, these aren’t the only places that you can purchase coffee from as there are roasters all over the globe.

If you’d like to explore the coffees listed above or take a look at all of the other blends we sell, please take a look at our online shop! From single origin coffees to year round blends, there’s an Altruistic Joe coffee for everyone.

Let us know if you have any questions! And follow us on Instagram to stay updated on everything to come in the future!