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One interesting note of coffee roasting is that as beans reach into second crack, they tend to lose any distinctive varietal flavors. Is this a bad thing? Well, for some, perhaps... I for one will mutter a bit if my Ethiopian Yirgacheffe goes past Full City and I lose distinctive flavor notes; and in my early roasting career I almost cried as a batch of prized Puerto Rican select went unheeded into Italian Roast realm before I managed to get back to it. But... some varieties do better at distinctive French Roast stage. De gustibus non disputandum est - it just doesn't pay to dispute results in cup!
And that is coffee roasting. I have seen a fair amount of advertising of 'slow-roasted' or 'deep-roasted' coffee, which always gets me to wondering. I suppose if you roast a huge amount of beans in a low-temperature environment... why, yes, that would in fact be a slow process! Certainly for a roaster to get beans to a certain roast point and no further, it does pay to be precise and not rapidly incinerate his product. But I can't say I'd want to purposely take any longer than necessary to do so.
As for 'deep' roasting? Hmm. Can't say as I've ever heard of 'shallow' roasting; but whatever it is, 'deep roast' must be opposite! Seriously, only 'trick of trade' that I can think of runs counter to notion of holding beans at any given temperature... and that is, once a batch reaches desired point, get it out of roaster and cool it down FAST! As described above, quality of a roast depends on those sugars and soluble materials within bean getting 'cooked' very specifically. Keeping beans near additional heat (yes, even other beans nearby, releasing their own heat energy) will continue to cook them.
To some extent this is unavoidable, so experienced roaster will compensate for this by knowing his roasting environment; and ideally provide a cooling location where beans can cool as rapidly as possible by flow of cool (i.e., room temperature) air over freshly-roasted beans. This allows them to 'coast' into their final characteristic color and taste.
© Andy White, Roastmaster for Coudy Coffee. For more coffee and espresso information and resources, visit http://www.coudycoffee.com
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Andy White is the Owner and Roast-Master for Coudy Coffee, proudly serving his small-batch roasted gourmet coffees to wholesale and retail customers. He can be reached through the Coudy Coffee web site http://www.coudycoffee.com