Why Are Coffee Beans Roasted? Everything You Wanted To Know


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Coffee roasting is indeed one of the processes in producing coffee intended for human consumption. But before the beans reach your cup, their life started as seeds and went through many transformations. And roasting is one of the most important parts of its journey.

But have you ever wondered why do coffee beans need to roasted and why this part is so significant in creating your beloved coffee?

Basically, coffee beans need to be roasted before transforming them into your daily cups in order to develop all the flavors needed to have perfect coffee.

In this article, we’ll talk about the reasons why we need to roast the coffee beans before brewing it in the morning. There are many things behind it, but we’ll try to give the most relevant information.

What is the Difference Between Roasted and Unroasted Coffee Beans?

  • Unroasted Coffee Beans

The raw green coffee is far different from the one you typically recognize in your brew. If you aren’t fun purchasing green coffee beans, you might think that these unroasted beans are some distinctive coffee variety. Sure, not everyone can characterize it than the distinguished brown or dark beans people see more regularly. 

However, technically, green coffee beans and brown beans are actually the same. But under some circumstances, they are different from each other. For example, they are the same because they came from a single tree or fruit, or simply say they are made up of the same element. But they are different because the raw beans are tasteless while the roasted ones are flavorful.

  • Roasted Coffee Beans

On the other hand, the coffee beans we see more frequently are the kind of beans we usually grind and brew. They are brown or dark brown – depending on the roast degree that we want – which typically the result of the roasting process. They are transformed into these color preferences due to heat, which forces the structure and composition to change. In other words, they are roasted or toasted or cooked.

We can obtain a preferred roasted bean depending on the roast degree that we want. The roast degree means the level to which you want to roast it, whether light roast, medium, or dark. You can read more on it here.

Why Do Coffee Beans Need to be Roasted?

This time, we already have a little bit knowledge about coffee bean. So, the question now is, why do we need to roast it? 

As mentioned earlier, you need to roast coffee to get all the flavors you need. It could also be other bounds that have to do with some individual’s affection for the art and science of coffee roasting.

1. To Become the Product that We all Know

In short, you need to convert these raw beans into the kind of beans that we’ve typically known or recognized as “coffee.” There’s no sense in brewing green coffees because they offer a bland flavor; they say it tastes like crap. The natural coffee can’t be transformed into your daily cup without finishing the roasting process. 

The beans are further processed from the coffee production using the wet and dry method and then roasted to grind and brew it. Besides, they are roasted in different approaches until they turn brown or dark to develop good chemical and physical characteristics. In this case, they create a product that is intended for human consumption. 

2. To Develop the Flavors that We Want

In addition, we need to roast the coffee for the beans to release all the flavors that we need in our cup – the sweetness, bitterness, and acidity, including those smoky and chocolatey taste. This wide variety of flavors and aromas are constrained inside the beans, and you can’t obtain them in green ones. You need first to develop those compounds before bringing them into your cup through roasting.

When it comes to the roasting process, we’ve said that the coffee beans will go through several stages. Each stage contributes to the bean’s progress in achieving a successful development – the flavor that we want – at the end of the process. Once you see exciting transformations, it possibly means that you’re extracting the bean’s most authentic flavors.

3. To Make it Dissolvable

Aside from the flavor, another reason is the structure or the composition. Of course, you can’t make a great cup of coffee at home without coffee grounds, which came from roasted beans. However, you can’t transform raw beans into typical coffee grounds.

And coffee beans need to be roasted to allow soluble compounds to easily dissolve in water if you tend to brew it later. The solubles in roasted beans are already developed and can be extracted quickly. However, these compounds in raw green beans are difficult to dissolve due to the bean’s cellulose composition. But again, unless you roast it, the cellulose structure on the outside of the bean will break down.

4. Coffee Roasting is an Art

Brewing coffee is a passion and an art that needs to be appreciated. But turning your green beans into a delightful roasted coffee is also a form of art; that making even a tiny mistake while roasting could ruin a batch of beans quite easily. 

For a normal person like me, we might think that roasting is just a simple process that is normally done to make a coffee. But for others, it might be more than that. Some of them treasure the coffee beans that they roast with care, special technicities, etc. 

Roast-masters and even brewers gave their effort and love in roasting the perfect coffee to captivate the people’s hearth regarding the world of coffee enthusiasts. The outcome is judged by the coffee’s final flavor associated with how the beans are roasted. So, they treated it as an art not just because it has a significant impact on the definitive flavor but also because of their intention to make us enjoy our cups of coffee as thoughtfully as it was prepared.

5. Coffee Roasting is a Science

There’s indeed a science behind the art of coffee roasting. Transforming the physical and composition of a raw green bean is already a science. But I bet there’s more than interesting to that. 

Have you ever wondered how the roasting process discovered? How did the people find that for the coffee to become literally coffee, it must go through a heating process called roasting?

When it comes to the brewing method, the good flavors take time to come out. The same with roasting, you need to wait for the flavors and aromas to develop. And we all know that there’s a science behind it.

We roast the coffee beans because of one reason: to give a particular flavor to our cups of coffee. But roasting is the result of several components’ reactions. One of them (the volatile component) contributes mainly to the full development of aroma. Simultaneously, the other one (non-volatile compound) attributes to the enhancements of flavor through the combination of heat, time, and patience. 

Though we know the most fundamental reactions occur during the coffee roasting, there might still be a lot of things happening in there. We just don’t know it yet. Understanding the science behind the roasting of coffee beans means being more appreciative of your coffee. So, give it a try and explore the world of specialty coffee.

How Does Coffee Get Roasted?

You roast the coffee bean by applying heat to it until it turns brown or dark. The amount of heat and time you roast it is some of the most important factors contributing to a successful result. It means you should know how to properly control the heat and time to avoid burning or under-cooking the beans.

In fact, roasting itself is always practiced by individuals back in the old days. In different ways, though. When it comes to roasting coffee, using a metal pan is probably the oldest, most practical, and favored technique to obtain a desired roast profile.

Although there are many ways to roast coffees, the beans are generally roasted inside a machine known as a “roaster.” It’s necessary equipment where you enter the batch of coffee beans to be heated. Nowadays, the standard is a large roasting drum, usually made of cylindrical steel where the beans rotate.

What Happens During Roasting?

During this process, the beans will go through the three main phases of coffee roasting, known as the:

  • Drying stage 
  • Browning stage and 
  • Development stage 

Expect that a lot of transformations and reactions will happen. Here’s a primary step on how the coffee bean is roasted and what happens to it. 

  1. The first step is to charge (enter as a batch) the coffee beans into the roaster or chamber to execute the drying technique. This will last typically within 6-8 minutes at about 160 degrees Celsius. After then, the beans will change in color, from green to yellow.
  2. At this point, the browning stage will take place. Wait for it to begin creating different aromas as well as browning of beans. At this phase, the Maillard reaction will happen, where the reactions between sugars and amino acids occur and release different flavors. In addition, at the end of this stage, you’ll start hearing a cracking noise. Probably the first crack.
  3. The last step is the final roasting stage. If you’re satisfied with the degree to which you roasted your coffee, then you don’t need to roast it further. But if you want to further subject it to heat, you may do so and wait until the beans reach medium-dark or dark color. You should pay attention to the second crack, which indicates that you shouldn’t go beyond.
  4. Since it involves minimal work, what you just need to do is monitor the flame, time, and the transformations in your roast. It also requires a lot of concentration; therefore, you need to sense everything. After all, at this point, it will be all down to your personal preference.
  5. The last step is cooling. All you need to do is pull the coffee beans out of the roaster and let it cool at room temperature. After a couple of hours, it’s ready to be ground and brewed.

Is it Better to Roast Your Own Coffee Beans?

I think it depends. It’s better and worth it to roast your own coffee if you prefer flavor and freshness above all else. And if you are willing to do all the effort.

Coffee isn’t a shelf-stable product. Coffee can only retain its maximum flavor for a week after roasting, so it’s seems better to roast roast your coffee at home to get the best out of it.

Just remember that there are a lot of techniques to achieve a perfect roast profile. It’s not limited to what’s popular and what’s best. As long as you have a rough guide and a baseline to the roast you want, it’s easier for you to roast the beans that best suit you.

But on the other side, roasting alone can be a time consuming process. You also need to work on it to make sure you wont ruin the beans. You also need a roasting machine or equipment at home to get going. So, if you can’t roast your own coffee but want the freshest and flavorful coffee possible, just leave it to experienced roast masters that understand the nuances and delicacies involved in roasting.

There are many coffee roasters out there that carefully and skillfully roast their coffees. Volcanica Coffee, for example, is one of my primary source of coffee due to their commitment to offer the only the finest quality coffee. They fresh roast coffee every week in their state-of-the-art facility in Atlanta and ship within one business day to ensure freshness

Does Coffee Beans Need to Roasted?

Yes! Because you can’t make a cup of coffee with unroasted coffee beans in the first place. In the end, the need to roast your coffee beans plays a vital role in the taste of coffee your brew every day. Remember that we roast the coffee beans to develop different aroma compounds that can make or break the final coffee flavor. 

But even though the common reason we roast the coffee beans is what most important, behind it is another reason that involves affection for making coffee.

Therefore, in conclusion, we need to see other angles as to why other people paying the most attention to it. Sure, coffee roasting produces the product we love…the sip of a paradise. But it’s also both an art and science. There’s something behind it that only a few people can see and appreciate.