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Manufacturing process of coffee

You will find every step of coffee manufacturing carefully explained, starting with blending, roasting and ending with grinding and packaging.

Blending | The art of roasting | Grinding and packaging

Blending

Taste is a matter of personal preference, this is certainly true when it comes to coffee. The consumers of each country require different characteristics in their daily cup of coffee. They may like, for example, a strong, or equally, a somewhat milder flavour. Such differences in taste may even occur within the same country at a regional level.

Coffee specialists carry out a lot of research into taste per country. It is important to obtain information regarding the habits and preferences of the consumers, in order to adapt the coffee to their tastes.

Blending for a stable taste
To produce the desired flavour, various coffee varieties are blended together. The principal aim in blending coffee is to arrive at a flavour and aroma which can be continually reproduced. The blender uses recipes which have already proven that they meet the taste criteria of a certain region. Coffee is a natural product, and given that the quality of the harvest is unstable, the recipes for blends must be regularly adjusted.

First blend, then roast
As a rule, different coffees are combined while still raw, to produce what is referred to in the trade as 'blends'. A very small number of roasters prefer to blend their coffees after roasting. Four or more different varieties are necessary in order to achieve the particular flavour required because only by blending can the natural fluctuations in quality amongst the different varieties be compensated for.

The art of roasting

Coffee's characteristic flavour and aroma develop during the roasting process. The flavour is locked within the green coffee bean until it is roasted. Heating green coffee beans sets a series of complex chemical reactions in motion that release the flavour compounds hidden within each bean.

Art and science
Roasting coffee beans to perfection is an art as much as a science, since they may react differently to the roasting process, depending on the soil and weather conditions in which they were grown and the processing method used. Different types of coffee require different roasts to bring out their rich flavours. An experienced roaster adjusts the roasting time and temperature for each batch of beans so they can reach the peak flavour and desired roast.

The roasting process
During roasting the green beans are exposed to very high temperatures of 500 degrees Celsius. The temperature in the bean rises to between 200 degrees  Celsius to 250 degrees Celsius, bringing about changes in chemical composition. The moisture in the beans evaporates, releasing the aromatic oils; the beans are  reduced in weight while at the same time they increase in volume. The sugars in the beans are converted into caramelised sugars, giving the coffee beans a distinct
flavour and a deep brown colour.

The temperature and length of roasting determine the characteristics of the end product. Once the desired roasting temperature has been reached, roasting is terminated. The roasted coffee is moistened and cold air is blown through the roasted coffee beans.

There are three types of roasting:

  • Light or blonde roasting gives coffee a mild flavour, which is drunk for example in Scandinavia.
  • Medium roasting produces a somewhat stronger flavour, as is popular in Central Europe and the USA, among others.
  • Dark roasting results in very strong bitter flavoured coffee intended to be drunk black, for southern European tastes.

Grinding and packaging

Grinding
The coffee beans are usually ground after roasting, in so-called rolling mills. A coffee bean can not be ground fine enough in one time to be suitable for the modern filter systems. A rolling-mill consists of several groups of cylinders, placed on top of each other. The beans are fed between two finely ribbed cylinders, which turn in opposing directions. The first group grinds the coffee beans coarsely, which is called pre-crushing. Each next group grinds the coffee finer until the desired grind size is reached. The spacing of the cylinders is adjusted according to the required fineness of the ground coffee.

Packaging
Transport, preservation and advertising, the three most important functions of packaging, were originally unnecessary for roasted coffee, since, until the middle of the 19th century, and in many places even later, there was no industrial roasting. The proprietor of the coffee house purchased his supply of raw coffee and roasted the beans himself. For domestic purposes as well, raw coffee beans were purchased form the grocer and roasted at home.

Nowadays, to guarantee as far as possible that the flavour of the coffee enjoyed by the consumer is as good as when it left the factory, ground coffee is very often vacuum or soft-vacuum packed, so that no air can get in. The quality of ground coffee is quickly diminished by oxygen in the air; oxygen breaks down the precious aromas in the coffee, and the flavour becomes more and more flat. That is why the best roasters pack the delicate, fresh roasted ground coffee in vacuum packages.

Unopened packets always have a quality guarantee for a specific length of time. This best before date is printed on every packet.

source: Douwe Egberts

  
  
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