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Coffee - Roasting & Grinding

Most coffee is roasted commercially on a large scale, but you can do your own roasting at home if you want control over flavour
November 11, 2012
By: Wong Wei Chen
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Coffee - Roasting & Grinding

Once harvested, coffee berries are treated to remove the pulp, and their seeds (or coffee beans) de-shelled, graded and then stored. In this form, the beans are commonly known as green coffee, and can enjoy a shelf life of 10 years or more, provided they are protected from dampness.

The roasting process converts green coffee into the flavourful and highly aromatic victual that we are familiar with. Most coffee is roasted commercially on a large scale, but you can do your own roasting at home if you want control over flavour.

Well-roasted coffee should sport a dark reddish-brown hue, and should not be black and shiny. Inadequate roasting results in a harsh and relatively tasteless infusion, whereas excessive roasting produces a black concoction that’s bitter and astringent. But to each his own: if you simply love bitter chow, go all the way!

After roasting, coffee soon loses its aroma, and quickly becomes stale when exposed to air. It should therefore be stored in a sealed, preferably airtight, container, and kept in a cool place.

The final process – before you actually get to drink the beverage – is grinding. How fine you grind your beans largely depends on how you want to prepare your coffee. Coarse coffee has chunky grains that are similar in size to kosher salt (which is coarser than common table salt). Medium grounds are similar to common table salt, while fine and extra-fine grounds are somewhat powder-like, though individual grains are still discernable to the touch. Turkish coffee, the finest of them all, feels like flour.

As a rough guide, go for a coarse ground if you’re preparing your brew using the French press. Medium ground is good if you’re using drip coffee-makers, and use fine or extra-fine grounds if you’re using espresso machines.

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