Coffee beans before roasting are green and have a verdant smell. They are the raw form of this beloved beverage. At home, coffee enthusiasts can experiment with different types of beans and roasting techniques. Some even use popcorn machines to grill their coffee seeds! As the beans grill, they go through a process called the first crack, where they release moisture and expand.

This is followed by the second crack, which creates a more distinct flavor profile. A medium roast is preferred by many, as it strikes a balance between acidity and bitterness. With the right home coffee roaster or grilling machine, anyone can enjoy the process of grilling their coffee at home and savor a freshly roasted cup of coffee. 

Coffee Beans Before Roasting

Coffee seeds in their raw, unroasted form are referred to as coffee seeds. As an experienced coffee roaster with over 15 years in the industry, I’m often asked what coffee seeds are like before they are roasted and how they are different from the brown beans we are familiar with. In this complete guide, I will explain everything you need to know about coffee seeds and why they are an integral part of creating amazing coffee.

When it comes to café roast, there are different options to consider. For a fresh grill, raw beans are lightly roasted until they reach the desired flavor and aroma. However, caution must be exercised as they may break if not handled carefully when still warm.

The first crack marks the beginning of the roasting process, followed by the second crack. If you prefer a more hands-on approach, you can buy green beans and grill them yourself at home. Alternatively, you can visit a coffee shop where the process of roasting took about 10 minutes.

Keep in mind that a one-way valve canister is ideal for storing freshly roasted beans due to the slightly higher concentration of carbon dioxide they release. 

If you enjoy coffee, why not try grilling your own coffee seeds at home? Dark grill coffee is perfect for espresso and those who prefer bolder flavors. If you prefer even darker roasts, you can continue roasting them in a pan.

Don’t forget to grind your beans with a good grinder to achieve the desired texture. Experiment with different roast levels to find your favorite, and who knows, maybe one day you’ll have your own coffee company specializing in even grill coffee.

Why Are They Green?

Green coffee seeds get their distinctive green color from chlorophyll, the same pigment that colors leaves and grass. Chlorophyll helps power photosynthesis in the coffee plant, allowing it to convert sunlight into energy and grow cherries that contain the coffee seeds.

Coffee Beans Before Roasting

Once the coffee beans are removed from the cherries and dried, the chlorophyll remains, giving them a slightly olive green hue. The shades of green can vary depending on the specific coffee variety, but green is their natural raw color before roasting transforms them into the brown beans we buy.

Fresh roast coffee seeds are typically green before they undergo the grilling process. 

Flavor Profile

The most obvious difference between green and roasted coffee seeds is that green beans do not have the rich, aromatic flavor for which coffee is prized. The hundreds of complex chemical compounds that produce coffee’s wide range of flavors only emerge after the roasting process triggers chemical reactions within the beans.

While green beans do have some inherent vegetal and verdant notes, their flavor is extremely mild. Some specialty green bean importers will conduct sample roasts and tastings to help ascertain the flavor potential of various coffee lots, but the beans themselves provide only subtle hints of their origins and characteristics before roasting.

To achieve the perfect coffee roast, there are various methods one can use.

The first and second options are using an oven or a purpose-built coffee roaster. If you choose the oven, you need to keep roasting the beans until they have reached the desired level of darkness.

On the other hand, a purpose-built coffee roaster allows for more control over the roast.

Another popular method involves using a popcorn popper. Whichever method you choose, the key is to roast the beans until they give off a rich aroma and reach the desired level of darkness. This will ensure a satisfying cup of joe.

Caffeine Content

An interesting fact about coffee beans is that they actually contain a higher level of caffeine than the same beans after roasting. Why does roasting reduce caffeine levels? The answer has to do with the chemical structure of caffeine and the changes that occur during roasting.

Caffeine contains carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and oxygen atoms bonded together through relatively weak hydrogen bonds. When coffee seeds are roasted at high temperatures, around 400°F, some of those bonds break down, allowing the caffeine to sublimate and get carried away with the roast gases.

Caffeine Content

Typically, a coffee seeds loses somewhere between 15-25% of its caffeine during the roasting process. So light roasts, which are roasted for a shorter time at lower temperatures, have slightly more caffeine than beans roasted darker. But in general, green coffee seeds always have the highest concentration of caffeine.

Roasting coffee seeds at home allows you to brew the perfect cup according to your taste preferences. Whether you prefer a dark roast or a lighter one, joining the coffee roasting community can help you learn and improve your skills.

You may earn the satisfaction of creating your own unique coffee profiles while experimenting with different roast levels and finding the perfect balance. It’s a simple yet rewarding process that can be done at home using a small roaster and monitoring the ambient temperature. Arabica beans are often recommended for home roasting due to their rich flavors and versatility.

While it reigns supreme, there is another species known as Coffea_canephora, commonly referred to as Robusta, which is often used in blends or for the Arabica coffee production of instant coffee due to its higher caffeine content and more robust flavor.

Processing Methods

After coffee cherries are harvested, they must go through a processing method to extract the beans. The two main methods are dry and wet processing.

Dry Processing: The cherries are dried whole in the sun on large patios, keeping the coffee seeds inside the dried fruit. Once dried, the outer layers are mechanically removed to get to the bean.

Wet Processing: The fruit covering is removed mechanically right after picking, leaving only the bean which is then washed and dried.

Coffee Roasting Drum

Wet processing tends to highlight a coffee’s inherent aromatic qualities, while dry processing brings out more body and earthiness. The method used will be an important factor in determining the flavor of the green beans and how they should be roasted.

Roasting your own coffee is an exciting and rewarding experience. It allows you to have complete control over the flavor profile of your beans. 

Evaluating Quality and Defects

Before grilling, it is standard practice to evaluate the quality of green coffee seeds closely. Experienced quality control personnel will check for defects like:

  • Blacks – Beans that turned black due to over-fermentation or excessive drying
  • Browns – Partially prematurely germinated beans
  • Stones – Very hard bean fragments that don’t readily absorb water
  • Quakers – Partially unripe, underdeveloped beans
  • Insects – Beans damaged by boring insects

Defects are quantified by counting the number that appear in a sample size of 300 grams of beans. High-quality specialty coffee should have a defect count of 5 or less per 300g sample. Defective beans are removed through hand-sorting to improve quality.

Storage Considerations

Green coffee beans can be stored for much longer than roasted coffee before quality deteriorates. The key is limiting their exposure to oxygen, light, moisture, and heat. When stored under cool, dark, and dry conditions in gas-flushed bags, green beans can retain their fresh flavor for over a year.

Once roasted, coffee beans begin rapidly degassing carbon dioxide and lose flavor within a month. But storing green beans properly allows roasters and retailers to buy inventory in advance and preserve quality. Proper storage also gives roasters flexibility in applying different roast profiles to the same beans to meet seasonal flavor preferences.

Medium Roast

If you have a passion for coffee, why not try roasting coffee beans at home? It allows you to have control over the grilling process and create your own unique flavors. The key to a perfect roast is achieving an even roast, where all the beans are roasted to perfection. This ensures that the flavors are balanced and the aroma is at its best. So, get your roast came and start experimenting with different beans and roast levels to discover your perfect cup of coffee. 

Decaffeination Before Roasting

Most decaffeinated coffee is processed from green beans before roasting through either the Swiss Water Process or CO2 extraction. Either method removes most of the caffeine while leaving other compounds intact, allowing the decaffeinated green beans to still develop a flavorful cup profile during roasting.

The ability to decaffeinate at the green bean stage, rather than after roasting, is preferable as it allows the beans’ chemistry to develop more naturally throughout the grilling process once the caffeine has been removed.

Arabica coffee gets its name from its origins in the Arabian Peninsula, but it is also associated with the lower caffeine levels in Arabica beans compared to other coffee varieties, making it a popular choice for those seeking a smoother and less intense coffee experience.

Grilling coffee beans at home is a great way to achieve the perfect glass of coffee. With a reader-supported machine to roast your coffee, such as the Gator, you can easily achieve a dark roast that suits your taste. After roasting, simply pour the beans into a metal colander to cool and release any excess chaff. Enjoy the satisfaction of brewing your own coffee beans at home for a truly aromatic and flavorful experience. 

How Green Beans Become Roasted Beans

The expert roaster takes green beans through an intricate process to develop flavor and aroma:

  • Beans are loaded into a commercial drum roaster that heats them between 370°F for lighter roasts and up to 460°F for darker styles.
  • Constant rotation ensures even heating as the beans begin to turn yellow, releasing grassy aromas.
  • At higher temperatures, they turn tan, then finally crack open and turn brown. Oils migrate to the surface turning them shiny.
  • The beans double in size, nearly doubling their weight as they emit carbon dioxide gas.
  • Agitation stops and the roast is cooled quickly with water or air to stop the process.
  • The color gradually settles into final shades from light brown for light roasts to nearly black for French Roast.
  • After resting to stabilize gases, the beans emit aroma at the crack of the bag, signaling peak freshness and flavor.

With different types of coffee roasting, there are options to explore and experiment with the perfect roast to suit individual preferences. 

Roasting Styles

From green beans, different roast styles emerge:

  • Light: Highlights tangy fruit tones from acids preserved by shorter roasting, stopping after the initial cracking.
  • Medium: Balances some roast aromas with fruity acids by pushing through first crack but not far beyond.
  • Dark: Deeper, bitter notes emerge as the sugars begin to caramelize from extended time spent after first crack.
Brief history of Coffea arabica species

A seasoned roaster knows how to coax the best attributes out of a particular coffee by choosing the perfect roast style through experience and cupping.

Key Takeaways 

Here are the main points to remember about green coffee beans:

  • Green coffee beans get their color from chlorophyll and have a mild, vegetal flavor before roasting.
  • They naturally have higher caffeine levels that reduce during the grilling process.
  • How they are processed after harvest as cherries affects their flavors as green beans.
  • Careful evaluation identifies quality beans over defective beans best suited for high-end roasting.
  • Green beans keep for over a year when properly stored unlike roasted coffee.
  • Roasting with heat triggers chemical changes that develop complex flavors and aromas.
  • The degree of roasting determines lighter or darker coffee styles from the same green beans.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Are Some Green Beans Yellowish?

Certain coffee varieties like Indonesian beans will appear more yellowish rather than blue-green due to small differences in chlorophyll and carotenoids. The visible spectrum in green bean color depends on the specific genetics of the coffee species.

Can You Brew Drinkable Coffee From Green Beans?

While possible to soak and simmer green beans to extract some flavor, the resulting coffee would be thin and grassy. Green beans lack the complex oils and caramelized sugars needed to produce coffee’s signature smooth, aromatic flavor. Roasting is essential to making them drinkable.

Are Green Coffee Beans Useful For Anything Else?

Green coffee bean extract has become popular in weight loss supplements because it contains high levels of chlorogenic acid, an antioxidant that shows some evidence for promoting weight loss. Green bean powders have also been used in some natural deodorants.

How Are Green Beans Harvested And Dried?

Cherries ripen around 6-9 months after flowering and must be handpicked once ripe. Within 6-12 hours of picking, the cherries get pulped by machine or by hand in water to remove the outer skin and pulp to reach the beans. They are then dried on beds or mechanically to reach an ideal moisture level around 10-12%.

What Is “Semi-Washed” Processing?

Sometimes coffee cherries are de-pulped and then dried immediately with some sticky mucilage still attached to the beans instead of washing. This is called “semi-washed” or “semi-dry” processing. It creates flavor profiles in between dry and washed processing.

Should Green Beans Be Roasted Soon After Harvesting?

Not necessarily. As long as green beans are dried properly and stored well in breathable bags, they can retain quality for over a year before needing to be roasted. Age alone does not negatively impact green bean flavor if stored optimally.

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