All about the Rappahannock Coffee  roasting process
Our Roasting Process  

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Roasting at Home

Weighing Beans The roasting process begins by weighing green beans. The quantity of beans introduced into the roaster impacts the roasting time. Our Roastmaster has spent many hours testing and tasting the roasted product for flavor and smoothness. Once the roasting method has been optimized for a particular type of bean, it is recorded in the Roastmaster's Notebook. For consistency, the same quantity of beans is used for each roasting cycle.
Preheat Temperature The roaster is preheated, ready to accept the green beans. The roaster will cool down about 30 to 40 degrees once the beans reach the roasting chamber.
Pouring into Hopper The measured green beans are poured into the intake hopper.
Starting the Roast Beans are introduced to the roasting chamber and the timer starts. The roasting chamber is a rotating drum that tosses the beans constantly through the hot inner atmosphere. From here on, the roast is monitored for temperature, time, color and taste.
Sight Glass Roasting beans are visible through a sight glass in the roaster.
Controlling Temperature During different stages in the roast, the temperature is adjusted to follow the formula achieved by the Roastmaster.
Keeping Roaster Notes Careful notes are kept and compared to previous roasting cycles. The flavor and appearance of the product as well as conditions during roasting are recorded.
First Crack "First Crack" occurs about half way through the roasting process and is an important milestone. You can hear the outer shell of the coffee beans in the roaster snapping. This indicates that the bean has begun caramelizing and hardening.
Looking at a Sample A sample of the bean is taken from the roasting chamber. The bean is evaluated for color, smell and taste.
A Darker Sample Further into the roasting process, the "Second Crack" occurs. At this point, a sample is taken every few seconds as the bean is now rapidly changing. Beans may be compared to a previous roast considered "ideal" for that variety. It is here that the degree of roast is determined, whether it be medium, dark, french or espresso.
Pulling the Beans Here is where the experience of the Roastmaster becomes important. The sound and smell of the beans in the roasting chamber are indications of what the beans are doing. The difference between a good and a bad roast is only a few seconds of roasting time. At the moment of perfection, the beans are released from the roasting chamber into the air cooler.
Beans Cooling Since the beans are very hot, they will continue to caramelize and change unless the roasting process is stopped by cooling. The air cooler stirs the beans and draws air through them with a powerful blower under the cooling chamber. The cooling process may take about 10 or 15 minutes.
Filling the Bins The cooled beans are then placed in bins ready for use directly in our in-store brewers or for our customers to purchase and take home. Our roasting capacity is 1,000 pounds of finished coffee per week, enough to supply 50 large restaurants plus our own retail operations.

Next:Blending Coffee

Roasting at Home