The Coffee Process – Roasting

Goodmorning everyone! While you’re enjoying your morning cup of joe you might be interested to read further about how coffee is produced, processed, roasted, and ends up on your pantry shelf.

Welcome to the third post of the Coffee Process series where we will be talking about the roasting process! Haven’t read the first two? Find them below:

1) Coffee – Where Does It Come From?

2) The Coffee Process – Harvesting and Processing


Roasting coffee beans is the act of cooking raw coffee beans to a certain degree. The darker/more roasted a coffee bean is, typically the bolder the flavor.

There are different levels of roasting for coffee beans: light, medium, medium-dark, and dark roasts. The type of bean and level of roast both completely change the flavor profile and caffeine content of the resulting product.


Roast Levels

Light roasts have an internal temperature 356 – 401 degrees Fahrenheit (180 – 205 Celsius). They have no oil on the bean and retain the most caffeine out of all the roasts (Coffee Crossroads). Light roasts tend to have a high acidity content and a toasted grain taste (Roasted Locally).

Medium roasts reach an internal temperature of 410 – 428 degrees Fahrenheit (210 – 220 Celsius). They, like the light roast, have no oil on the bean but lack the grainy taste that light roasts have. The caffeine content in medium roasts is not as high as in light roasts but still contains more than darker roasts. (Coffee Crossroads)

Medium-Dark roasts  reach an internal temperature of 437 – 446 degrees Fahrenheit (225 – 230 Celsius). They have a richer color than medium and light roasts and have some oil on the bean and a heavier body. (Coffee Crossroads).

Dark roasts reach an internal temperature of 464 – 482 degrees Fahrenheit (240 – 250 Celcius). They are dark brown to black in color and have a layer of oil covering the bean. The original taste of the bean is usually drowned out by a bitter or smokey taste from the roasting process and the caffeine content is the least of all the roasts. (Coffee Crossroads).


Common Names

Light roasts are commonly known as: Light City, Half City, Cinnamon Roast, and New England Roast (Coffee Crossroads).

Medium roasts are commonly known as: Regular Roast, American Roast, City Roast, and Breakfast Roast (Coffee Crossroads).

Medium-Dark roasts are commonly known as: Full-City Roast, After Dinner Roast, and Vienna Roast (Coffee Crossroads).

Dark roasts are commonly known as: French Roast, Italian Roast, Espresso Roast, Continental Roast, New Orleans Roast, and Spanish Roast (Coffee Crossroads).


First and Second Crack

Within the roasting process there are two key points. These key points are called first and second crack. (Click here to hear the sound of each of these stages)

First Crack is when coffee begins approaching edibility (Perfect Daily Grind). This occurs around 360 degrees Fahrenheit (182.22 Celsius) when the bean emits a popping noise and expands under the pressure of the carbon dioxide and water vapor that are produced by chemical reactions that happen within the bean as it heats up (Bridgehead).

Second Crack is when the oils begin to travel from the inside of the bean to the outside of the bean. The actual popping sound of this stage is softer than of first crack. Only dark roasts achieve second crack as this is when the actual cellular structure of the bean begins to break down in the heat of roasting and when the flavor of roasting will begin to take over the flavor of the bean in the final product. (IKAWA).

Roasting Stages

During roasting there are 7 separate stages. Not all coffee beans will go through every stage. The amount of stages that the beans go through completely depend on the type of roast that is attempting to be achieved. These stages are taken from IKAWA. The site lists the stages as 9 separate one, the list below is a separate version focusing only on key points for the bean.

  1. Pale – As the bean begins to heat up, it will first pale in color from green to almost white. This first stage will emit a grassy smell and is indicative of the bean first beginning to cook.
  2. Yellowing – The beans will start to turn from the almost white color to a yellow color and begin emitting a smell close to hay. This yellowing is known as The Maillard reaction (when seeds reach 293 – 302 degrees Fahrenheit (145-150 Celsius)).
  3. Orange/Tan – When the bean heats up past 329 degrees Fahrenheit (165 Celsius), caramelization begins to occur and the bean darkens in color. The smell shifts from that of hay to that of baking bread due to the reaction in the sugars of the bean.
  4. Development time – The time after first crack is often referred to as the development time because now the bean is primed and begins to cook quickly. How soon first crack happens depend on how quickly the roaster heats up the beans, the cracking sound can happen quickly and be loud or it can be a drawn out and softer sound depending on the heat of the roast.
  5. Second Crack – If the roast continues on long enough, a second crack will occur. As stated before, this is when the cellular structure of the bean begins to break down and when the oil starts to migrate outside of the bean.
  6. Burnt – If you continue the roast much longer past second crack, the bean will begin to burn and will no longer be usable.
  7. Cooling time – The beans will be cooled quickly to room temperature after they reach their desired roasting temperature (in order to create light to dark roasts). It is crucial that they are cooled quickly so as to be precise with the temperature and to not dull the flavor of the coffee through longer cooling times where the bean stays warm for longer.


After cooling the beans down, they are ready to be packaged and shipped to the appropriate stores so that they can eventually end up on your pantry shelf!


Thank you for journeying with me through the fascinating process of coffee harvesting, processing, and roasting. Stay tuned for more exciting installments like this and have a wonderful day everyone! Happy coffee drinking!

  • E. Lexi Abbott

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Published by E. Lexi Abbott

A free spirit and a wild soul. I am a writer who is seeking the inspiration found in the crannies and nooks of life. My goal is to combine the world in my head with the world around me one page at a time.

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