Coffee Roasting


Before roasting any coffees, selecting the best beans is one of the most important key factors for a perfect cup of Kona. Gourmet coffees differ from one another in a variety of ways. This includes cultivation practices, growing areas, altitude, soil, and climate. Like fine wines, gourmet coffee will also vary from country to country, region to region, and year to year. Yet by purchasing gourmet coffee, you are assured of drinking the best beans each coffee-producing country has to offer.

Arabica coffee beans, which Kona coffee is base from, receive special care and attention throughout their cultivation and growing processes. Here in Kona, coffee usually grows at an altitude between 800 and 2,000 feet. (Most other coffee-producing countries grow coffee at higher altitudes, above 3,000 feet. And between the geographical area of the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn.) But all coffee requires the right combination of sun, shade, and moisture to thrive.

All gourmet coffee is carefully handpicked, processed, and sorted in the growing country and then roasted to perfection when they arrive in the United States. The pleasure of selecting gourmet coffee to suit your specific taste requirements is left to you. Here at Kona Pacific Farmers Co-op, we roast our own coffee, making sure that the end product is the best possible our customers can buy.


What's most important is to understand that roasting is really a type of food processing and a work of art. Just like any cooking or baking, the control time of heat is important and also if more so if there is a blending of ingredients. Variety and exploring fine coffees in different roast is what makes it more enjoyable.

There are many types of roaster equipments out there and they can average to roast one pound to 400 pounds or more. Most common roasters are designed like clothes dryers. Coffee beans are kept in the tumbling chamber with heat being blown into by fans. The beans are not on a direct flame. A tool called a "trier" will be used to pull samples out to check the colors while roasting.

Throughout a period of 15 minutes with temperatures as high as 400 degrees the greens will start to loose its moisture. It will then start to turn yellow, then into a caramel color and then finally brown or to the color roast you want. While roasting, the beans will go through two stages of popping. The sounds of popping will be like popcorn. When the roasting stops it gets dumped into a cooling tray where a brief spray of water followed by air cooling, or by air alone will cool the beans to where it can then go through a resting period for packing.


Green coffee beans must be roasted to develop their flavor characteristics. The roast's color depth (darkness), which can range from light to a very dark, can depend a great deal on the country of origin or blend used. In many cases, coffees from different countries will need different degrees of roast to develop their optimal flavor characteristics. For example, a light brown color that releases desirable flavor characteristics from one country's coffee may not produce as satisfactory results for another country's coffee.

Coffee with a light brown roast color and no traces of oil on the bean's surface are known as an American, or Traditional roast. A Vienna or Full City roast is usually a dark brown with perhaps a small amount of oil on the bean's surface, while an Italian or French roast appears almost black. Darker roast coffee beans will also appear shiny- this is the result of oils that rise to the surface of the beans during the roasting process.

In 1995 the Specialty Coffee Association of America designed and put into use a classification system for roasting coffee. This system is referred to as the "Agtron". With this system now in use, it is possible to control the quality and degree of the roast that is to be achieved.

The Agtron system lists eight different levels of roasting, from very light all the way to a very dark roast. The system contains 8-color disk, numbered 25-95 in 10 point increments. These are used to match the color of the roasting coffee beans to the desired end result. If the roaster is roasting to a medium roast, he/she will look at one of the disks to determine how close the coffee is to being done, or how much longer the beans will need to be roasted.

The effects of roasting to develop coffee flavors are viewed in different ways such as Light, Medium, and Dark Roast, or expressions like, "City Roast", "Full City", and "Espresso" are used by roasters or regions. Sometimes color will look just about the same but depending on the types of beans used and heat temperature applied will give an entirely different flavor.

We have divided roasts into three categories: Light, Medium, and Dark along with a number from the SCAA Agtron color chart. Light Roast, Agtron #85 (color of cinnamon) has more acidity, intense aromas with crisp. Medium Roast, Agtron #55 (roughly light-brown in color) maintains most of its acidity and full in body. Dark Roast, Agtron #35 (dark brown to black in color) usually has an oily surface that will have a bitter flavor with a noticeable decrease in body. Here at KPFC we have incorporated using the SCAA Agtron scale to our roasting standards for providing our customers the best flavor and quality of our coffees.

Remember, Roasting is considered to be an Art, and you can go from one roast color to another in just seconds. A person who roasts and gets the coffee to that particular point of what we call "excellent" of where they bring out the enriched and best flavors from that coffee bean are called Roast Masters. They have gone through many years of training, practices, trial runs, testing, and have a lot of experience of roasting.







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