Roasting and Grinding for New and Emerging Coffee Varieties

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Roasting and Grinding for New and Emerging Coffee Varieties

A comprehensive guide to roasting and grinding techniques for new and emerging coffee varieties to bring out their best flavors.
Roasting and Grinding for New and Emerging Coffee Varieties

 Coffee roasting and grinding are essential steps in achieving the full flavor potential of any coffee variety. As new and exotic coffee varieties from different origins become available, roasters must learn how to adapt their techniques to bring out the best in these coffees. This article provides a detailed overview of factors to consider when roasting and grinding new and emerging coffee varieties for optimal flavor.

Table of Contents

  • Understanding the Unique Attributes of New Varieties
  • Modifying Roasting for Different Origins and Varietals
  • Optimizing Roast Degree and Development Time
  • Grind Size Considerations for New Coffees
  • Tips for Cupping and Tasting New Coffees
  • Recommended Equipment for Roasting and Grinding
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Conclusion

Understanding the Unique Attributes of New Varieties

1. When working with an unfamiliar coffee variety, begin by researching its background and notable attributes. Factors like the variety, origin, processing method, density, moisture content, and more can impact how that coffee should be roasted and ground.

2. Pay attention to details from the coffee farm or importer about the flavor profile, acidity, body, and other characteristics of that particular variety or harvest.

3. Look for advice from other roasters who have experience with that coffee variety and origin. Check online forums and conversations for tips on roast profile techniques.

4. Order samples early if possible and do side-by-side cupping of different roast levels. Take detailed tasting notes to understand how flavors develop in that variety from beginning to end of the roast.

5. Be prepared to experiment and adjust your methods over several roast batches until you learn how to best accentuate that coffee's inherent qualities.

Modifying Roasting for Different Origins and Varietals

1. Coffees from Africa and India typically have higher densities and require higher temperature roasts to fully develop their flavors.

2. Indonesian and some Latin American coffees have lower densities that call for lower-temperature roasting to avoid scorching their delicate flavors.

3. Slow down the roast or extend development time for denser beans to allow even heat penetration.

4. Speed up the roast or use a higher charge temperature for lower-density beans to help bring out the sweetness.

5. Adjust heat application based on moisture content - drier beans require less energy input to reach target temperatures.

6. Pay attention to aroma and color cues throughout the roast to gauge the development of flavors - making adjustments as needed.

Optimizing Roast Degree and Development Time

1. Under-roasted coffee will taste grassy, sour, and lack sweetness. Over-roasted coffee takes on a bitter, burnt flavor.

2. For light roasts, drop the beans just before or at the start of the first crack. For darker roasts, extend the time until the end of the first crack or into the second crack.

3. Longer development times deepen flavors and reduce acidity. Shorter development creates brighter, fruitier tastes.

4. Sample roast the same coffee to different degrees to determine the ideal time for that variety's sugars and acids to fully develop.

5. Adjustments in only a few seconds of roast time can significantly impact flavor - take detailed notes on your experiments.

Grind Size Considerations for New Coffees

1. Grinding coffee properly unlocks aromas and allows even extraction of soluble solids during brewing.

2. Harder, denser beans require finer grinding to expose more surface area for water to penetrate.

3. Softer, lower-density beans can be ground coarser to avoid over-extraction.

4. For manual brewing like pour-over and French press, start with medium grind and adjust from there for taste.

5. For espresso, you may need to adjust the grind considerably from your norm to achieve the desired extraction given the bean density.

6. Make small adjustments to grind size and record results until reaching the optimal range for that coffee variety.

Tips for Cupping and Tasting New Coffees

1. Cupping lets you experience the inherent flavors of the roast without additional variables introduced by brewing.

2. Use standardized cupping protocols for consistency when sampling different coffees.

3. Control dosage carefully and be consistent across samples to minimize confounding factors.

4. Take detailed notes on the aroma, flavor, mouthfeel, and aftertaste of each coffee.

5. Compare the same coffee roasted to different degrees side-by-side to determine the optimal roast level.

6. Adjust your roast profile accordingly based on feedback from cupping until you hone in on that coffee's peak flavor.

Recommended Equipment for Roasting and Grinding

Having the right equipment makes dialing in roasts and grinds for new coffee varieties much easier.

- Sample roaster - Allows roasting small 125g batches for experimentation

- Programmable roaster - Set custom profiles for temperature and airflow

- Roast-logging software - Tracks data like time, temp, ROR, color changes

- Variety of grinders - Burr, blade, espresso, batch brew, single serve

- Refractometer - Measures extraction yields during cupping

- Cupping equipment - Cups, spoons, grinder, kettle, trays, forms

- Multiple brewing devices - Pourovers, French press, espresso, cold brew, etc.

- Scales - Weigh coffee and water for consistency

- Tasting journals - Record roast profiles and flavor notes on each coffee

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Should I change my roast profile for every new coffee variety?

You will likely need to make some adjustments to account for differences in density, moisture content, processing method, and inherent flavors of each new coffee. Start with your standard profile as a baseline then tweak temperature, time, and airflow from there.

2. How can I bring out fruity/floral flavors in lightly roasted coffees?

Use a declining temperature profile, higher charge temp, shorter development time, and lighter roast level to accentuate a coffee's inherent aromatics and acidity.

3. What if I over-roast a new coffee variety?

Take notes on when the first crack occurred and adjust your profile to end the roast slightly earlier next time. Extend the drying phase and lower the temperature to avoid scorching those beans.

4. Should I change my espresso grind setting for a new coffee?

Most likely yes. The grind size needed will depend on the coffee's density, moisture content, oiliness, etc. Start with your normal setting and adjust finer or coarser as needed.

5. How many roasts until I learn to dial in a new coffee?

It typically takes 3-5 experimental roast batches while taking detailed notes to really hone in on the optimal profile for a given coffee's origin, variety, and characteristics.


Roasting and grinding are both sciences and arts that take time to master, especially when working with new and emerging coffee varieties. Pay close attention to the coffee's inherent qualities and let those guide your equipment settings and roast profile changes. Take detailed notes, and cup-tasted coffees, and adjust your methods in small increments across multiple batches until you unlock that coffee's full potential.

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