Dark Roast Coffee

What makes a DARK Roast Coffee?

Coffee cherries are green prior to roasting. They lack the characteristic flavor that we have come to value in a good cup of coffee. Roasting the beans reduces their water content and releases sugars, fats and starches in the bean. As this happens the beans develop an oily surface. This oil is what gives coffee its distinctive aroma and taste. Expert roasters use a combination of bean mass, temperature, smell, color, and sound to monitor the roasting process and produce the desired flavors and levels of roast.

Sound is actually one of the primary ways to determine a coffee’s degree of roast. Coffee beans will begin to fracture around 400 °F. Gases escape from the beans and emit a sound similar to popcorn popping. This sound is known as the first “crack”. Coffee heated to this temperature is considered a light roast. When heated to approximately 435 °F they emit a "second crack" and are considered medium roast. Coffee heated beyond 441 °F is considered dark roasted.

That sounds simple enough so why is there so much variance in the taste of dark roasts?

The flavor of coffee is determined by many factors but the main three are as follows:

Location and Climate: The best coffee beans are grown at precise altitudes in tropical climates and each location will have a distinct flavor. They require fertile soil and just the right mix of rain and sunshine during their growing season. These variables as well as how the coffee beans are initially processed are main factors affecting overall flavor.

Bean Selection: Larger coffee roasting houses resort to mechanically sorting the beans. This results in substandard cherries being introduced into the batch. These damaged beans can produce off putting flavors and aromas during the later stages of processing. Small batch roasters use a more labor intensive practice of hand selecting each bean. This gives them better quality control and more consistent flavors.

Expertise: Finally the level of expertise of the roaster is a large factor in the end product. When it comes time to roast the beans, the difference between a dark roasted coffee and a burnt bean is a matter of seconds. It takes years of experience and careful attention for a person to be able to “read” the beans and determine when they reach the peak of perfection. So, although there are thousands of coffee roasters there are few that can produce consistently good coffee. Additionally, beans from certain region of the world lend themselves to different levels of roasts. For instance, Mexico is said to produce beans that handle the high temperatures of a dark roasting process well. However, few roasters use a single type of bean and prefer instead to experiment with blends to create “signature” flavors.

Breve Coffee Company is a small batch roasting company located in St. Louis. Kevin, the master roaster, has more than a decade’s worth of experience in the selection and roasting of the finest coffee beans from around the world. For a full bodied dark roast that is sure to please the coffee connoisseur’s palette try our eco-friendly Fireside French Roast.