Kauai Coffee Roasting Guide
Roasting coffee transforms processed green beans into the fragrant and delicious Kauai Coffee you grind and brew every day. Get a behind the scenes look at the roasting process with this comprehensive coffee roasting guide and video tour of our roasting facility.
Heat and the art of coffee roasting
Heat is the essential element of coffee roasting and what releases the array of flavors and aromas that make coffee so alluring. During the roasting process, high levels of heat are applied to green coffee beans, which causes a dramatic chemical change. Starting between 280 and 330 degrees Fahrenheit, the high temperatures inside the roaster force water and other volatile compounds out of the coffee beans. Then, sugars and amino groups in proteins react with the heat and cause the beans to brown. This reaction is called the Maillard reaction and is the same chemical process that creates the distinct and delicious flavors of browned foods like steak, pan-seared vegetables, and toasted marshmallows.
shutterstock: pongpinun traisrisilp
As the temperature increases, further chemical reactions take place. Once the water inside the beans is completely vaporized around 400 degrees Fahrenheit, the beans expand and crack. A light roast coffee is done at this point, but medium and dark roast beans continue to react and change. Around 430 degrees Fahrenheit, coffee beans undergo a chemical process called Pyrolysis, which causes the release of carbon dioxide and a second crack, which gives the beans their deep, rich color and dark roast beans an oily sheen.
Timing is everythingTime is another critical element of coffee roasting and much more challenging to master. The difference between the desired roast level and a burned bean can be just a matter of seconds. That's why experience matters. At Kauai Coffee, we are lucky to have some of the best coffee roasters in the business. In fact, of the twelve licensed Q graders in the state of Hawaii, we are fortunate to have two – Roastmaster Mike Shimatsu and Quality Assurance technician Jorge DeLeon. Together they lead our exceptional roasting team and ensure perfectly roasted, island-grown coffee is delivered to you and your family every time.
Coffee roasting is an activity where all your senses are engaged. The color of the beans, sounds, and aromas they produce are all clues to achieving the perfect roast. Thankfully we also have technology. When beans enter the roaster, we can select the desired roast level with software, but it still takes a human touch to get it just right. At Kauai Coffee, our commercial roasting equipment can roast between 28 and 32 100 pound batches per day, an average of 63,000 pounds per month! Processed green beans enter the roasting plant via conveyor belt and are then added to the roaster one batch at a time.
Once the desired roast level and settings are selected, it’s time to roast! As the beans roast, they are closely monitored. A small scoop is inserted into the roasting drum every few seconds to check the beans. As soon as the desired roast is achieved, the beans are quickly transferred to a cooling drum, where they are gently stirred to reduce their temperature and stop the roasting process.
Shutterstock: Jane Rix
Coffee Roast Types
Surprisingly, there is not much industry standardization when it comes to coffee roasting types and labels. Each roastmaster may have their own equipment, time, and temperature formulas for achieving their signature roasts. However, most specialty coffee roasts, including ours, fall somewhere on a spectrum of light to medium, medium-dark, and dark roasts.
Light roasts Light roast coffee is light brown in color and retains more caffeine than darker roasts. In general, it has a mild flavor and more acidity or brightness than darker roasts because the beans haven't roasted long enough to force the natural oils out of the bean. Another appealing quality of light roast coffee is that you may taste more flavor nuances unique to its origin. When purchasing light roast coffee, look for labels with the following descriptors:
- Light roast
- Light city roast
- Half city roast
- Cinnamon roast
- Medium roast
- City roast
- Breakfast roast
- American roast
- Estate Reserve Peaberry
- Estate Reserve Big Braddah
- Estate Reserve Red Catuai
- Estate Reserve Visitor Center City Roast
- Estate Reserve Sun Dried Typica and Acaia
- and many more!
- Full city roast
- Estate Reserve Kauai Sunrise
- Estate Reserve Polihale Sunset
- Estate Reserve Holiday Blend
- Estate Reserve Aunty Aloha
- and more!
- Dark roast
- French roast
- Italian roast
- Espresso roast
- Continental roast
- Estate Reserve Kauai Blue Mountain
- Estate Reserve Rooster Alarm
- Estate Reserve Mundo Novo
- Estate Reserve Visitor Center Dark Roast
- and more!
See the Coffee Roasting Process in PersonWant to learn more about the art of roasting coffee? Join us for a free coffee roasting demonstration at the Kauai Coffee Visitor Center. Roasting demonstrations occur Sunday through Thursday at 9:30 a.m. and most afternoons. Join us for a Farm Tour to see the entire process from seed to cup! Kauai Coffee farm tours are offered Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
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