Prior to roasting, the bean needs to be extracted from within the many layers of a coffee cherry. For coffee, we are only looking to extract and use the beans found in the centre (generally there are two coffee beans). The coffee cherry is made up approximately six layers; the outer skin, the pulp, mucilage, parchment, silver-skin and the all-important beans in the centre.
Before the coffee beans are roasted, they must go through a special preparation stage, which can be done through either a washed or a natural process.
The coffee cherries are then sorted by immersion in water. Bad or unripe fruit will float, whereas the good ripe fruit will sink. The skin of the cherry and some of the pulp is removed using a machine, by pressing the fruit in water through a screen. The bean will still have a significant amount of the pulp clinging to it that needs to be removed. This is done either by the classic ferment-and-wash method or a newer procedure variously called machine-assisted wet processing.
Believe it or not, this preparation before the roasting process does affect the taste! When dried naturally, you can expect fruitier flavours due to the fermentation of natural sugars in the pulp. A washed process however, offers more vibrant flavours. This is because it removes all the pulp and fruity sugars which have an impact on the bean, leaving the pure coffee bean flavour to come through more strongly.
Interestingly, coffee beans are originally green with a grassy smell! The rich, brown colour, wonderful flavours and aroma we all enjoy are in fact due to the careful roasting process they undergo after harvesting. Once the beans are put inside the drum of the coffee roaster and they begin to heat up, the process causes a chemical change in the beans as they’re brought to a high temperature very quickly. Then, once they reach the ideal temperature for that particular roast, they get cooled rapidly in order to stop them being roasted further. The process may sound relatively simple, but it requires a keen eye to ensure they’re roasted to the correct standards.
Find out more about the coffee roasting process in our guide.
There are four common types of coffee roasts, all with their own unique flavours and notes which are brought out at different stages of the roasting process.
Light roast coffee is also known as the first crack due to the fact that the beans are at the first stage of expanding and cracking.
This type of coffee roast is when the beans reach an internal temperature of between 180°c - 205°c and are very light in colour and dry with absolutely no oil present on the surface. The flavour profile will be quite acidic but you’ll also expect fruity notes and a more aromatic experience too.
Explore some of our light roasts:
NESCAFÉ GOLD BLEND Roastery Collection Light Roast
NESCAFÉ GOLD BLEND Origins Cap Colombia
As the name suggests, medium roast coffee is medium brown in colour, dry and generally more balanced in flavour. This type of coffee roast is roasted to a temperature of between 210°C - 220°C and is preferred by many as the flavour, aroma and acidity all entwine in a harmonious blend and often, a slightly sweeter taste and stronger aroma can be expected too.
If a more balanced flavour and aroma is appealing to you, try our NESCAFÉ GOLD BLEND It's smooth, rich, yet well-rounded. Or, perhaps NESCAFÉ® AZERA Americano is for you, with its irresistible velvety crema.
With the coffee beans reaching a temperature of between 225°c - 230°c, medium-dark roast coffee is a great option for those looking for something a little stronger in flavour than medium, but not quite as bitter as dark roast coffee. Darker in colour and with oil present on the surface of the roasted bean, this type offers a rich flavour that’s described as almost bittersweet. Additionally, thanks to the extended roasting period, the acidity is virtually undetectable.
If you like your coffee beans rich in aroma and full-flavoured, try NESCAFÉ Original. Made with perfectly roasted medium-dark coffee beans for a well-balanced flavour profile that’s universally loved.
The boldest roasting profile available, dark roast coffee is roasted to a temperature of between 240°c - 250°c. This type is black in colour with an oily surface and a very bitter taste. The flavours are very pronounced with strong notes and often, hints of caramel can be found in these types of coffee roast.
Medium-dark and dark roasted coffee beans go through what is known as ‘second crack’, relating to an occurrence during the roasting process. ‘First crack’ is when the coffee beans will audibly pop like popcorn or puff up slightly, whereas ‘second crack’ is a slightly softer sound. It means that if the roasting process continues long enough, coffee beans will go through a second crack, which is usually caused by the oils beginning to migrate from inside of the bean to the outside.
For those who like a dark roast coffee, our NESCAFÉ® GOLD BLEND Roastery Collection Dark Roast coffee is just for you. With notes of dark chocolate and roasted nuts for a rich and intense flavour, you will not be disappointed.