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There’s a lot that goes into your morning cup of coffee. In order for it to possess the taste that has you ‘ahhhing’ after each and every sip, it has to go through a unique roasting process which determines everything from the caffeine content to overall flavour profile.

Roasting is truly an art in itself and you’ll be surprised to learn how subtle differences such as a few degrees of temperature can alter the taste of the bean. Keep reading to find out all you need to know about the key steps of the coffee extraction, preparation and roasting process and the types of coffee roast you’ll likely encounter as a result.


The roasting process 

Below is a step by step guide to the types of roasting style that each bean undergoes to create our delicious coffee blends, with their delightful flavours and strength levels.


Step 1: Extracting the coffee beans 

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. Starting with the outer skin, then the pulp, mucilage, parchment, silver-skin and the all-important beans in the middle.

Structure of a Coffee Bean

Understanding the 6 coffee layers

  • Outer Skin / Exocarp: Coffee seeds are covered by flesh, much like a cherry you might eat. At the beginning of fruit development, this outer layer of the coffee cherry is green. As the fruit matures, it turns yellow, then orange, and finally a ripe red.
  • Pulp / Mucilage / Mesocarp: The next layer of the coffee cherry is common in many seeded fruits. It’s a sweet sticky layer covering each of the coffee seeds, rich in sugars and has a big influence on the taste of the coffee bean
  • Pectin: This is responsible in protecting the coffee beans. It’s made up of a cellulose layer.
  • Parchment / Endocarp: This is a thick shell-like layer that surrounds the bean and when dried, loosely resembles parchment paper.
  • Silver Skin / Chaff: This is a very fine layer which has a silver sheen to it, which is where the name originates. This layer remains on the seeds (coffee beans) and is removed by the roasting process. It can often be referred to as chaff.
  • Seed / Coffee Bean: The beautiful green coffee bean or seed, while still inside the cherry, matures to become the coffee we all know and love, once it’s roasted to perfection.

Step 2: Preparing the coffee beans

Before the coffee beans are roasted, they must go through a special preparation stage, which can be done through either a washed process or a natural one.

What’s the difference between washed and naturally prepared coffee beans?
The washed/wet-process and natural/dry process refers to the way the beans are prepared for the roasting process.

Dry Natural Process
Dry/Natural Coffee Process

What is it?

Dry process, also known as unwashed or natural coffee, is the oldest method of processing coffee. The entire cherry after harvest is first cleaned and then placed in the sun to dry on tables or in thin layers on patios.

The natural/dry process refers to when the bean is dried in the cherry before de-pulping. De-pulping is the process of separating the coffee seeds from the outer layer of flesh. After coffee cherries are picked, they must be de-pulped within 24 hours. If the cherries pass the 24-hour mark without being de-pulped, they may produce an overly fruity, rotten flavour that can ruin the quality of the coffee

Wet Coffee Process
Wet/Washed Coffee Process

What is it?

The washed process is where the beans are dried without the cherry, de-pulped and then they are usually fermented to help in separating the rest of the pectin from the bean and parchment, then finally, the beans will be washed and cleaned before drying.

In the wet process, the fruit covering the seeds/beans is removed before they are dried. Coffee processed by the wet method is called wet processed or washed coffee. The wet method requires the use of specific equipment and substantial quantities of water.

The coffee cherries are 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.

You may not think it, but 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 and take centre stage.



Step 3: The roasting process

Interestingly, coffee beans aren’t just the wonderful rich, brown colour with the flavour and aroma we all cherish – they’re actually green to begin with and smell grassy! It’s the magic of the roasting process that we owe to the fantastic flavours and scents of the humble coffee bean.

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 whole 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.


4 Types of Coffee Roast

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 Beans

1. Light roast coffee

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.

Medium roast coffee

2. Medium roast coffee

Medium roasted coffee reaches an internal temperature of 210°c -220°c, right after the first crack and in preparation for the second. Medium roasts have a little more body compared to the light roast and have less acidity.

Medium dark roast coffee

3. Medium-dark roast coffee

Medium-dark roast coffee beans are roasted in an internal temperature of 225°c - 230°c, during or right after the second crack. This type of roast has a richer, fuller flavour, with more body and less acidity.

Try our classic medium-dark roast NESCAFÉ coffee

We've created coffees for all tastes and occasions. Make your moment with NESCAFÉ.

Dark roast coffee

4. Dark roast coffee

Dark roast temperature is between 240°c - 250°c. Due to the high temperature that dark roast beans are roasted at, oil is visible on the beans shell. Dark roasts are much sweeter in flavour, this is due to the sugars in the coffee having more time to caramelize.

The length of the roasting process also supports the development of the rich, deep flavour and full body which leads to dark roast beans having a buttery finish. Dark roast coffees also have much less acidity compared to other roasts.

That is our guide on types of coffee roasts as well as the roasting processes. Coffee beans go on a journey from bean-to-cup, so, next time you sip your cup of coffee, think of the journey it’s been on to get there!

Like your coffee lightly roasted? Why not try our NESCAFÉ Fine Blend? Mellow in flavour and lightly roasted to perfection. Or, for the most sophisticated of taste buds, try our NESCAFÉ GOLD BLEND Roastery Collection Light Roast. Sweet with notes of rich caramelised honey and toasted biscuit, our master roasters combine 50 years of craft and smart roasting technology to create this unforgettable blend.


Other articles you might be interested in

  • Where Do Coffee Beans Come From?

    Coffee beans are commonly grown in a location known as 'the bean belt'. Find out everything you need to know about where coffee beans come from here.

  • Coffee Roasting Process

    There's a lot more to the coffee roasting process than simply heating beans - find out about coffee roasting and the different methods in our guide.

  • The History of Coffee

    Starting in Ethiopia and moving its way across the globe, coffee has an extensive and interesting history that dates back as far as 800 AD.

A Nescafé coffee roaster at work


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