Types of Coffee Roasters

The different types of coffee roasters

There are many sizes and types of coffee roasters available, ranging from factory machines, helped by sophisticated quenching-devices and automatic timers, with the capacity to roast hundreds of pounds of beans, down to tiny "professional" batch roasters which roast no more than a couple of hundred grams. Some companies use "high-yield" roasters, developed in the 1970s, which "roast" beans in relatively small amounts, but in a matter of precisely-timed seconds, perhaps up to two minutes, on fluidized "beds" of hot air rather than with the directly-transferred heat of metal drums. Called high-yield because the beans' surface areas expand so much as to produce more coffee when ground, these roasters are not favored by many experts, who feel that the high-yield flavor is not as fully developed and round as that produced in conventional roasters.

There are small table-top roasters for the domestic market, but they can be hard to find, and expensive when located. Many people find it a joy to roast small amounts of coffee in frying pans over a cooker-burner (on the stove). (Oven-roasting is not recommended namely because it is not possible to keep the beans moving, and the roast is therefore usually very uneven and uncontrollable.) To roast coffee beans correctly, use a heavy, possibly cast-iron, frying pan, which has been warmed up. Add a single layer of beans over a low heat, increasing the heat to high as they roast, stirring constantly with a wooden spatula. In some Middle-Eastern countries whole spices such as cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, or fennel may be added, to be ground with them later. Other countries actually roast the beans in small amounts of butter or sugar. depending on the desired flavor.

When the beans are roasted to the desired color, they must be cooled immediately, perhaps by putting them into a pre-chilled container, or onto a very cold surface. It is not advisable to grind beans for brewing immediately after roasting as the flavor will be sharp, green and sour. To achieve the desired mellowness of a good brew, do not grind until the coffee beans have had time to de-gas, preferably for a minimum of 12 hours.

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