I have been toying with removing the roast type from the labels on our coffee. You know …..the part that indicates if the coffee is a dark roast or a medium roast. Too many people relate the roast type to strength. Understandably so since in Coffee shops and grocery stores the dark roasts are often bitter and strong.
In the specialty grade roastmaster world, the roast type is referring to “crack”. Before you head off into a different tangent, “crack” is referring to the noise the coffee bean makes during the roast. The first crack is made when the center membrane of the bean breaks. If you listen to the beans it will sound a lot like popcorn popping. First a few will crack and then a bunch will crack and then it slows down until the remaining beans crack. The second crack happens when the walls of the cells break. This is a much quieter crack. In fact it is so quiet I make sure to not have any music in the background or I might miss it.
A light roast or a “blond roast” as Starbucks calls it describes when the beans are “dropped” (brought out of the roaster) just after the first crack is finished. A light roast truly does produce a light taste. I spoke with a roaster in Louisiana and because people there grew up with chicory added coffee and sweet tea, he sells a lot of light roasts. I offered a wonderful light roast last year and it just didn’t sale here in Omaha so I discontinued it.
A medium roast is when the beans are dropped just before or just at the second crack. Some coffee purist think that this is the only way coffee should be roasted. Typically, a medium roast is going to be bright where the floral and fruity notes are predominate. On a personal note, while I like fruity notes in coffee I do not like coffees with flowery aromas so I doubt if we’ll ever offer a flowery coffee.
A dark roast is when the second crack is fully developed. As a coffee is roasted darker the brightness (citric acid) is roasted out and the lower notes (chocolate and nuts) are brought out.
Our extra dark roast is 30 seconds after the second crack has fully developed. This is the darkest I will go with a roast since any longer will produce a burnt taste. It will take out most of the acidity and leave you with a silky smooth and the flavor hits the back of the tongue coffee.
I hope this helps clear up some confusion about the different type of roasts. It was hard for me not to get into more detail about the artisanship of a true roast master because it is a whole lot more that dumping the beans in and dropping them out when they hit a certain color.