Roasting types of coffee
Roasting is a heat process that turns Hawaiian coffee into the fragrant, dark brown beans with which we are most familiar.
Before being roasted, the Hawaiian beans were stored green, a state in which they can be kept without loss of quality or taste. Once roasted, however, they should be used as quickly as possible before the fresh roast flavor begins to diminish.
Roasting Hawaiian beans is a technical skill which approaches an art form.
It takes years of training to become an expert Hawaiian roaster with the ability to 'read' the beans and make decisions with split second timing. The difference between perfectly roasted Hawaiian coffee and a ruined batch can be a matter of seconds.
Roasting brings out the Hawaiian aroma and flavor that is locked inside the green coffee beans.
A green bean has none of the characteristics of a roasted bean. It is soft and spongy to the bite and smells green, almost 'grassy.' Roasting causes numerous chemical changes to take place as the Hawaiian beans are rapidly brought to very high temperatures. When they reach the peak of perfection, they are quickly cooled to stop the process. Roasted beans smell like coffee, and weigh less because the moisture has been roasted out.
Hawaiian roasted beans are crunchy to the bite, ready to be ground and brewed.
Most roasters have specialized names for their favored Hawaiian roasts and there is very little industry standardization. This can cause a great deal of confusion for the buyer. But in general, Hawaiian roasts fall into one of four color categories—light, medium, medium-dark or dark. The perfect roast is a subjective choice that is sometimes determined by national preference or geographic location.
Within the four color categories, you are likely to find common Hawaiian roasts as listed below. But it is a good idea to ask before you buy. There can be a world of difference between roasts!
Light brown in color. This roast is generally preferred for milder Hawaiian coffee varieties. There will be no oil on the surface of these Hawaiian beans, because they are not roasted long enough for the oils to break through to the surface.
Medium brown in color with a stronger Hawaiian flavor, and a non-oily surface. This roast is often referred to as the American roast because it is generally preferred in the United States.
Rich Hawaiian bean, dark color with some oil on the surface and with a slight bittersweet aftertaste.
Shiny black Hawaiian beans with a oily surface and a pronounced bitterness. The darker the Hawaiian roast, the less acidity will be found in the coffee beverage. Dark roast coffee beans run from slightly dark to charred and the names are often used interchangeably which can be very confusing.
Be sure to check with your Hawaiian beans supplier before you buy them!