At Bean Life Coffee, we are overly particular about selecting premium specialty coffee beans grown and harvested from around the world. We look at numerous facets about the coffee bean, the farm, and the supplier in order to make a decision on which coffee bean to purchase and roast. The credibility and history of the farm, the sustainability of the coffee bean production, the processing of the bean, and the the methods and food safety processes that go into the shipping, storage, and receiving of the finished beans are but a part of the selection process that goes into making a great cup of coffee for you!
Raw coffee beans are a pale light green color and have a hay or vegetative-like aroma. They are small in size (as the beans roast they swell in size!) and have a smooth, slick feel. Raw coffee bean batches are weighed out to a predetermined weight in order to maximize roasting efficiency and maintain consistency from batch to batch.
Once the roasting machine is up to proper temperature, the raw green coffee beans are added to the roasting drum. These beans immediately begin to absorb heat and energy from the inside surface of the roaster drum as well as the ambient heat inside the drum. In about two minutes, the coffee beans begin to undergo its first major change.
As the beans continue to tumble in the roasting drum, the internal temperature of the drum will rise which also increases the rate at which the coffee beans cook. The coffee bean’s color will begin to turn yellow after two to three minutes in the roaster, and an aroma is able to be detected that is reminiscent of dried cut grass. As the temperature of the roaster drum and coffee beans rise, the coffee bean will continue to darken and increase in size, but at a more rapid pace.
TAN / CINNAMON STAGE
Caramelization of the coffee bean begins during the tanning or cinnamon stage. The beginning phases of the Maillard Reaction takes place and the coffee beans aroma changes to be sweet and bready, similar to toasting a fresh slice of bread. At this time in the roast, the sensory acuity of the production roaster comes in to play as the coffee beans are undergoing a tremendous amount of microscopic chemical changes at an increasingly faster rate.
First Crack is one of the most exciting parts of the roast. The coffee beans have completely entered the browning stage and have grown over 100% in size. Because of the coffee beans growing in size, they can no longer be contained in the chaff (similar to a grain husk) and the bean “pops” the thin chaff layer off. This popping effect, which sounds like popping popcorn, is called first crack and will continue for the next two to three minutes of the roast.
Once first crack begins, the development and flavor profile of the roasted coffee bean changes rapidly. A matter of seconds can make a difference between roast levels, the aroma, and the taste of the finished coffee. The shorter amount of time the beans stay in the development stage, the greater the origin flavors of the bean dominate, and the more acidic and brighter flavor the coffee will taste; however, a longer and darker roast will tend to be less acidic, heavier in body, and a stronger influence of roasted flavors. The primary goal during the development stage is to create the intended delicate balance of flavors from the beans.
If the coffee beans continue into the development stage long enough, a second round of cracking will begin. During the first crack, the bean grew in size so much that it popped off the bean chaff. During second crack, the oils from the inside the coffee bean break down the cellular structure of the bean and push its way out making a much lighter sounding crack. Once second crack begins, it is indicative of the loss of the origin flavors of the bean, and the roast flavors will dominate the taste profile.
Once the beans have completed the production roast process, they are transferred to a cooling tray where the beans are constantly being circulated while having cool air blown on them in order to reduce the cooling time. This is a crucial step because if the beans do not get cooled down quickly enough, the remaining heat within the coffee beans can cause the flavor profile to differ from the intended outcome. After the beans have been cooled to room temperature, they are transferred to a sealed bin for a 24 hour wait period.
A common misunderstanding about coffee is that the freshest roasted coffee tastes the best. In fact, brewing coffee immediately after roasting could lead to a rather disappointing experience.
Degassing is the release of carbon dioxide gases from roasted coffee, and the majority of this degassing process takes place within the first 24 hours after roasting is completed. Immediately brewing coffee after roasting can result in small bubbles when the coffee is brewed which can disrupt the contact between the coffee grounds and the water, leading to an uneven extraction of the flavor and aroma compounds in the dry coffee.
Every roasted batch of coffee is tested through a process called cupping. Cupping is a quality control procedure that ensures that each batch meets its intended flavor profiles. A small amount of coffee is ground and steeped in hot water to create a small sample to allow a coffee taster to evaluate the aromas and flavors to verify that the coffee is accurate and ready to distribute to the public. At Bean Life Coffee, the methods for cupping follow the standards set forth by the Specialty Coffee Association of America in order to maintain the best consistency of quality control of roasted coffee batches.
After the cupping process is completed and the quality control expectations have been met, the coffee beans are then packaged for individuals in 12 oz. bags and 5 pound bags for cafés, restaurants, corporate businesses, and coffee extremophiles.