Coffee roasters now work alongside farmers to create a great product from the plant to the cup.
Coffee seeds are not actually beans like most of society thinks they are. The seed is actually the pit of a cherry on a coffee plant. When a cherry becomes a bright, deep red color, it is picked.
Once the coffee seed has been picked, the processing must begin as quickly as possible, to prevent the fruit from spoiling.
Famers processing the seed out of the cherry do it two ways: either a dry method, which is the oldest way, or the wet method.
With the dry method, the freshly picked cherries are simply spread out on huge surfaces to dry in the sun. To prevent the cherries from spoiling, they are raked and turned throughout the day, then covered at night or during rain to prevent them from getting wet.
In the wet method, the freshly harvested cherries are passed through a pulping machine to separate the skin and pulp from the seed.
After the seed is separated from the cherry skin, it goes through a fermentation process, and then gets milled, put into a bag and shipped to a roaster.
“We go out to the famers, build a great relationship, and see what process they do and work together to get a great start to our coffee,” said Austin Amento, owner of Augie’s Coffee, a local coffee roaster in Redlands.
Once the coffee seed is sent to the roasting company, the company does a test roast to select the best roast they want to show off.
The seeds are then roasted in a small roaster, immediately ground and infused in boiling water with a carefully-controlled temperature.
“When we’re cupping for quality control at Augie’s, we’re looking for bright, clean, fruity cups that are exciting for their region,” said Tim Masts, Augie’s Coffee master roaster. “Having tasted thousands of coffees from all over the world, we know what to expect from our favorite coffee growing regions. ”
The roasters taste different types of roasts and smell the aroma to see if it is what they are looking for.
“We do a medium roast at Augie’s Coffee to really show off the origin and the characteristics of the coffee seed instead of the roaster,” said Amento.
Roasting transforms green coffee into the aromatic brown beans that we purchase in our favorite stores or cafés.
Most roasting machines maintain a high temperature. The beans are kept moving throughout the entire process to keep them from burning.
“When roasting, there are more than one billion steps, and they vary quite a bit from coffee to coffee,” said Masts. “In general, you’re looking to have the ideal application of heat from your [open flame] burners to the rotating drum as well as adjusting air flow allowed out of the drum.“
When they reach an internal temperature of about 400 degrees Fahrenheit, they begin to turn brown and the caffeic acid, a fragrant oil locked inside the beans, begins to emerge.
Tim addresses what he is looking for to know when the coffee has reached an ideal roast, “There are audible, aromatic, and visual factors that tell me the coffee is finished.”
After roasting, the seeds are immediately cooled with air. Roasting is generally performed in the importing countries because freshly roasted beans must reach the consumer as quickly as possible.
The roasted coffee seeds are now ready to package and get sent out for the customer to enjoy.