There is a whole range of possible coffee roasts, from green to charcoal. The possibilities are just about endless. Every kind of coffee bean responds best to a particular variety of roasts in order for the best natural flavor to be released, and like with wine tasting, the fun is in tasting them all to determine what we like best. For now though, I want to tell you how roasting affects the flavor and caffeine content of your coffee.
When coffee beans are green they possess all the flavor qualities that God has grown into them (see part 1 of this blog series). As the green beans are roasted, the natural flavor is cooked out and traded for the flavor of the roast. This trade-off is good, because a weakly roasted bean is often a bit bitter and sour, and the roasting process corrects this and brings about a very good brew. This is where the Roast Master needs to become well-versed in his coffee types, because there is a point where a single-origin coffee bean is roasted so much that all anyone can taste is the roast and not any natural flavor of the bean– so any old bean would have worked. The Roast Master becomes worth his salt when he learns which bean needs to be roasted to which level in order to bring about the best flavor.
There is another important facet to the level of roasting, and that is the caffeine content. As a coffee bean is roasted, its caffeine content begins to diminish. So, the darker the roast, the less the caffeine. This means that people who get espresso coffee for the caffeine kick are actually getting less caffeine than what is in a regular cup of lightly-roasted coffee.
I don’t know why, but most of us assume that when a coffee is roasted darker, it has more flavor and more caffeine, but this is not the case. I guess it is like a Filet Mignon steak. If you really want the steak to melt in your mouth and have the best flavor, you need to have it cooked rare to medium-rare.
In the next part of this blog post, I want to bring out the lie of all lies for those of us who love coffee, so check back in a day or two.