Advanced Techniques



Espresso Roasting

The objective of roasting espresso is to maximize the sweetness and aroma of the coffee while minimizing the bitterness and acidity.  Most people focus on trying to reduce the acidity by roasting the coffee extremely dark. This also removes all the wonderful aroma and sweetness of a coffee, making the espresso less palatable.  This explains the unpopularity of straight espresso and the popularity of espresso based drinks where either milk or other flavors are added to replace the sweetness that was lost by roasting darkly. 

From 170-200C the sugars in coffee begin to caramelize.  From tasting pure sugar versus its caramelized component it is evident that uncaramelized sugar is much sweeter.  The dark color of coffee is directly related to the caramelization of the sucrose in coffee.  Therefore, to maximize sweetness you want to minimize the carmelization of sucrose, yet you do not want to roast too lightly or bitter tasting compounds will not thermally degrade.  When roasting espresso, stop the roast somewhere between the end of the first crack and less than half way through the second crack.  Do not roast well into or past the second crack.  We recommend a roasting chamber temperature somewhere between 205-215C.  Realizing the danger of the following suggestion we might recommend a color similar to the one below.  Note: All monitors, computers, and internet browsers will display the color slightly different.  This is only a recommendation to point out that this color is preferable to the almost black color you will frequently observe for espresso.  To get a better idea of coffee roasting colors order the Agtron roasting classification kit from the SCAA.


See the article written by Carl Staub of Agtron on coffee roasting and chemical reactions for more information.

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