I recently watched a TEDx talk presented by Asher Yaron on the health benefits of drinking coffee from newly roasted coffee beans (Youtube TEDx talk). I started to think about it and I wanted to try it out for myself.
According to the talk, the process of roasting raw coffee beans is very simple, all you need is heat. Ok, I can do that, I can heat things. So I went to this place where they sell raw coffee beans downtown. I talked to the cashier and she presented me with a variety of beans. The prices ranged from double that of ordinary ground coffee to six times! All I was thinking about was to get the cheapest beans possible. After all, in the event that I would fail with the roast, it wouldn’t cost my shirt.
So, after some questions back and forth, I settled for a variety called Santos. Santos is from Brazil and it is kind of sweet in taste. By the way, did you know that Brazil is the main producer of coffee beans at 17 million tonnes (Wikipedia.org/wiki/coffee)? In second place, Vietnam, who produce some 15 million tonnes of coffee beans each year. It is no wonder that coffee is one of the most popular beverage in the world.
According to the TEDx talk, coffee was once used by monks, to gain a higher level of conciousness during long sessions of prayer. He also say that the vacuum sealed coffee we drink today is: old, stale and dead. That sounds really bad doesn’t it? Dead coffee… While the talk is very informative, let’s not kid ourselves, the talk is basically a commercial for his magnificent roaster, but I will let that slide for now. After all, everyone has something to sell, the difference is how you present it.
I’m thinking that, research has shown that even though we drink this “stale coffee”, we still get loads of health benefits. What health benefits are there in freshly roasted coffee I ask.
We can easily find the health benefits of drinking ordinary crappy coffee from wikipedia. Some of them are listed below
1) Coffee is rich of Anti-oxidants which boosts your immune system, preventing cancer.
2) Coffee makes you feel more awake and your brain is stimulated.
3) May lower risk of type-2 diabetes.
So, it is pretty healthy, well, on to the roasting.
Roasting the coffee
The roasting is very simple. Preheat the oven to 200-210 degrees Celsius using the hot air setting. When the oven has reached the right temperature, put the tray in the middle of the oven. The roasting should take 10-15 minutes. You will notice that the beans will swell up and leave a silvery thin shell behind, almost like popping popcorn, but in slow motion, see the animations below.
When the beans have reached a dark brown color, take out the tray and put it on a cool surface. As the tray is hot you may also want to use a water spray to cool it down quickly or even move the beans to another container, otherwise the beans may burn. The tray should be flat and not bend and “pop” because the beans should be placed in one layer on the tray. The beans turn brown and double in size because of a reaction between the amino acids and the sugars in the beans. This reaction is called the Maillard reaction Wikipedia.org/wiki/maillard reaction.
After roasting, I noticed that the coffee will continue to mature for several hours. I would suggest you to let it rest for a couple of hours before grinding and brewing the coffee.
An interesting thing I noticed was that brewing seemed to produce a light brown coffee. The taste is sweet but also strong. So I guess it depends on how long and hard you roast the coffee. Also when drinking my coffee I usually add some 40% fat whipped cream, to round off any harshness from my brew. The sweet taste of the bean with the cream’s nutty flavor makes for a very nice coffee.
Below is a set of animations I created from the photos I took. You have to have fun while you roast your coffee you know.
Roasting coffee is simple and fun. Just keep track of the beans so they don’t burn. If possible, acquire a already roasted bean to compare the color.
Also, the coffee will lose some moisture as part of the roasting process. This is a thing to think about while you decide which coffee bean you want to buy. I calculated that the Santos bean will loose 13% in water weight, so this should be included in your calculations.