Roasting is the Key to Quality Coffee Blends

By: Ray La Foy

It might seem a little hard to conceive, but all the rich flavors of coffee depend mostly on two different types of beans - the Robusta and the Arabica. The varying flavors themselves, for the most part, are actually created during the roasting process. This is where a master roaster will take ordinary beans and make them extraordinary by enhancing their flavors during the cooking process. The skill of the roaster and the beans in question will result in the flavor of coffee a drinker desires.

From the coffee plantation to the roasting stage, beans themselves go through several processes. They must, of course, first be harvested and then dried. Beans that are dried, but are not roasted, can actually hold their full flavor for a very long time - up to two years in some cases. These beans are generally referred to as “green.” Once the roasting process is completed, the time clock begins ticking on the full-bodied flavor of the beans. It will begin to diminish, but generally not enough for anyone other than a serious connoisseur to notice.

The key to making different types of coffee - from America light to espresso dark - lies in the hands of the master roaster. Using specialized equipment that carefully turns and roasts beans evenly, the roaster cooks the concoction to just the right temperature and time to yield the flavor brew desired.

The types of roast most common include:

* Light roast. This is generally considered "American coffee." The roasting process is cut short of the bean's natural oils and sugars beginning to caramelize. The flavor is weaker than a European roast, but favored in coffee houses and homes all over the USA.

* Vienna or French roast. This is kind of the all purpose medium-bodied roasting. Here the beans are left in a bit longer to give the end product a richer, bolder taste. The beans' natural oils and sugars start to caramelize, but aren't allowed to do so for too long.

* Dark roasts. True European dark roasts are strong creations that require a longer cooking time.

* Espresso quality. The darkest of the roasts, this one involves not only the caramelize of the beans, but cooking right up to the burn point. For espresso, the beans must be very dark and roasted just right. The end result is coffee beans that are ideal for espresso and other favorites such as cappuccino and Cuban coffee.

Once beans are roasted, other flavors can be added. These can include such tastes as vanilla, hazelnut, chocolate and more. The key, however, is all in the roasting process where the real coffee flavor is unlocked.

Freshly roasted beans will hold their full flavors for a short time, but can be made to extend by not grinding them before use. Real coffee lovers grind their coffee beans just before brewing to ensure the richest, boldest flavors possible.

There may be only two major beans going, but that doesn't mean all cups of coffee are alike. When it comes to creating flavors, the key is all in the roasting process. When a master roaster proceeds in his or her craft, the outcome is truly gourmet.

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