Roasting Kopi Luwak

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All About Coffee Roasting

Coffee starts life as a cherry, like fruit growing on a tree. Surprised by that? Well that’s one of the reasons we can have somehting like Kopi Luwak coffee (cat poop coffee), because the little civets love eating the coffee cherries.

After mechanical means or the digestion of a small mammal strips the flesh away, we are left with the cherry seed, which will become the bean that we all know and love.

But the coffee cherry seed must complete a journey first - it must be roasted. There are two main methods - the drum roaster and the air roaster.

The drum is the original, granddaddy method of roasting coffee beans and, surprise surprise, a drum is involved. This drum can vary in size from being like a paint tin all the way up to a concrete mixer in some commercial coffee plants.

Irrespective of the size, the method remains broadly the same. The bean is loaded into a drum shaped, rotating cylinder. A heat source is applied to the exterior of the drum, which will usually be a gas flame.  The beans tumble around as the drum slowly heats and roasts them.

An air roaster works by blasting the beans with hot air – basically think of an industrial sized version of the hair dryers in a public bathroom, and you’re in the right ball park.

Roasting time will depend on the temperatures that are being used, and what ultimate level of roasting is required in the end.

Oh, and did you know that roasting coffee beans is a lot like making popcorn? Whilst some coffee is roasted with mechanical monitors in place, a lot of artisanal, high quality coffee is still made with an expert Roast Master keeping an eye on things – or rather an ear.

 They are listening for two pops during the roasting time. The first pop means that the heated bean has released both water and oxygen. Carbon Dioxide needs a little more time to get its act together though. The second pop then, is the sound of the C02 leaving the bean.

So, there are various coffee roasts out there, and basically they just refer to the time when the roasting process is halted. The sooner the roast ends, the lighter the roast will be.

A Light Roast, also referred to sometimes as a cinnamon roast, is going to be light, with a somewhat acidic taste.  This roast is going to have the least effect on the beans natural taste too, making it perfect for special origin beans with a different taste profile from the norm.

At the other end of the scale, Dark Roasts are going to have the most bitter notes in their flavor profile – but are also going to have the most robust overall tastes, making these perfect for use as espresso shots.

Medium and Medium Dark make up the middle ground between the two extremes, and provide a good mixture of a balanced flavor with some acidity and a bitter-sweet aftertaste. This is why Kaya Kopi Luwak is roasted to a medium roast. It therefore retains the flavor but still has a full body.