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Roasting Coffee: As Told by the Top Coffee Roaster on the East Coast

Roasting Coffee: As Told by the Top Coffee Roaster on the East Coast

The journey from a humble coffee cherry to a fragrant, flavorful cup of coffee is a complex process that involves a series of carefully orchestrated steps, and at the heart of it lies the art and science of coffee roasting. When you’re done with this article you will learn the crucial factors that determine the final flavor profile of roasted coffee – time, temperature, coffee density, size, and quality.

 roasted coffee beans

What is Coffee Roasting?

Coffee roasting is a process that takes seeds of a fruit (green coffee) and applies direct heat over a period of time, transforming them into the aromatic brown beans you enjoy. (Side note: They’re not beans though, they’re really seeds of a fruit that grows on trees that resemble beans, but everyone calls them beans… but they’re not the kind you want to find in your burrito). 

Imagine your clothes dryer at home, you know how it spins wet clothes around and applies hot air which causes them to eventually dry? Well as roasters, that’s pretty much what we do with coffee, we remove moisture through heat and eventually the green coffee becomes brown. Without the process of roasting, coffee would not be drinkable and we’d be sad.

While coffee is grown in various regions worldwide, Latin America holds a special place in the hearts of us here at Mayorga Coffee. At Mayorga we focus on Latin American coffee because that’s where we come from and what better way to show love than to roast coffee from the people and countries that represent us. The unique flavors and aromas of Latin American coffees are often the result of meticulous roasting techniques that accentuate the inherent qualities of the beans.

Eduardo Choza Roasting Coffee

Time and Temperature: Let’s Cook!

Time and temperature are the dynamic duo at the core of coffee roasting. These two factors determine the degree of roast and, consequently, the flavor profile of the final product.

The duration of roasting plays a pivotal role in shaping the coffee's flavor. As the beans roast, they undergo a series of chemical reactions. Initially, they lose moisture and gain heat, leading to a phase known as the drying phase. Then, they undergo a Maillard reaction and caramelize, similar to meat or onions, the coffee undergoes a transformation that gives them their characteristic color, aroma, and flavor. Roast time is often carefully controlled to preserve the unique characteristics of coffee like fruity, floral, and nutty notes or to develop caramelized and bold flavors like brown sugar and dark chocolate

Roasting temperature stands as another pivotal factor, with distinct roasting stages unfolding at different temperature levels. The initial drying phase takes place at a lower temperature, typically around 350°F (175°C) and as the roast progresses, the temperature is increased to bring out specific flavors. For example, a medium roast (around 418-430°F or 214-220°C) is often favored because of its balanced taste and ability to maintain their bright notes and nuanced flavor profiles.

Coffee Density: Unveiling the Inner Character

Coffee beans from Latin America vary in density depending on their origin and varietal. Density is an important factor during roasting as it affects the rate at which heat is absorbed and transmitted within the bean. Generally, denser beans require more heat and time to roast properly.

Beans from high-altitude regions, like our coffees from Colombia Santa María, Bolivia Caranavi, Perú Amazonas and Guatemala La Hermosa, tend to be denser. These beans often have more pronounced acidity and vibrant flavors, and they require a skilled roaster to carefully develop their potential.

roasted coffee bean

Size Matters: Uniformity in Roasting 

Bean size is another critical factor that impacts the roasting process. While it may not seem immediately evident, variations in bean size can lead to uneven roasting, resulting in a less desirable flavor. At Mayorga our coffee is very similar in size from origin to origin, this ensures an even roast. We take pride in working with all of our producing partners that often meticulously sort their beans before they even reach us in Rockville, MD. 

Quality: Pride and Beyond

Regardless of the roasting technique employed, the quality of the green beans is paramount. Mayorga’s coffee producing partners take great care in cultivating and harvesting their crops. To say they put heart and soul into what they do is a major understatement. The region's diverse microclimates, volcanic soils, and varying altitudes contribute to the exceptional flavor diversity in Latin American coffees. These beans often have distinct characteristics that make them stand out. This focus on quality and traceability enables us to highlight the beans' intrinsic qualities through precise roasting techniques. From the farm to the roastery, there is a lot of pride that goes into each coffee at Mayorga.

chemex coffee mug

Appreciate, Don’t Hate

The choice between dark, medium, and light roast becomes a matter of personal preference, as each roast level accentuates different aspects of the coffee's inherent character. Dark roasts offer intensity and boldness, medium roasts strike a harmonious balance, and light roasts provide a bright and refreshing journey through the region's diverse flavor landscape. 

At Mayorga, our rich coffee heritage of Latin America and diverse flavor profiles offer a canvas for us to showcase our skills. By carefully manipulating these key factors of time and temperature we unlock the vibrant and nuanced flavors in our coffees. Next time you sip on one of our coffees remember the meticulous roasting process that has gone into making that brew a true work of art.

This Article is written by Eduardo Choza - Director of Coffee at Mayorga Coffee

#4 Best Coffee Roaster in the US 

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