The 9 Stages of Coffee Roasting (From Green to Spanish)
In order to make gourmet espresso drinks, it’s important to have a good grasp on the various roasts of coffee. Roasts vary widely from coffee shop to coffee shop, one of the primary reasons for differences in flavor.
Lighter roasts (such as the ones you’re more likely to grab out of the drive thru window) will have a taste that’s very different from your boutique coffee shop (usually darker roasted) – even if the two restaurants are using the same exact green coffee bean.
9 Stages of Roasting
- Green Coffee. Green coffee is un-roasted. Some energy drinks actually process green coffee beans for a “more natural” source of caffeine.
- Yellow Coffee. At 200-250 ºF (internal bean temperature), coffee begins to take on a yellowish color, emit steam, and have a slightly earthy aroma. “Yellow” is a rather loose descriptor. Some coffees may appear orange or tan during this stage.
- Light Brown Coffee. At this stage, temperature increases to 250-300 ºF. This is the final stage before coffee goes from being endothermic to exothermic.
- First Crack. Between 395-405 ºF, coffee beans undergo the “first crack.” As the beans warm and expand, the release of moisture results in an audible cracking sound. The roaster continues adding heat at this point, as most people would not consider this kind of coffee desirable.
- City Roast. Once the beans reach 400-415 ºF, they’ve undergone enough roasting to be considered drinkable. Roughly half of the sugars have been caramelized at this point, which results in a light and balanced sweet/bittersweet cup of coffee.
- Full City Roast. At 415-425 ºF, the beans start to crack a second time. This is a slightly darker roast.
- Vienna Roast. This stage of the roast (450-465 ºF) is not quite as well known as the ones that precede and follow it.
- Italian & French Roasts. Certainly the best known roasts, these two profiles are achieved between 475-510 ºF. Typical espresso is roasted at one of these two levels, French being slightly darker and smokier than Italian.
- Spanish Roast. Once coffee has been roasted at 520-530 ºF, it enters into this unfortunate categorization, which is essentially charred coffee bean residue. Whether anyone actually drinks Spanish Roast has yet to been confirmed.
No matter what kind of roast you enjoy, pick up a bottle of our caramel coffee syrup to enhance the flavor of your coffee!