No matter which method you use to make coffee, be it French press, pour-over, or expresso, you’ll likely be looking for the best coffee grounds to use. Coffee is roasted in various ways; it can be roasted in a drum or barrel. A small amount of coffee sold worldwide is also air roasted, but the technique has never become mainstream.
If you’ve ever heard of the term air roasted coffee, you may be wondering what this is and how it’s processed. In this article we will explain the air roasting process and answer the question, ‘what is air roasted coffee?’
What is Air Roasted Coffee?
Air roasting is a method of roasting and processing coffee beans that has been around since the seventies. Although some producers still use air roasting, this method never really caught on, and only a small percentage of the world’s coffee has been air roasted.
Coffee beans are traditionally processed by being tumbled in a hot steel drum or barrel. Air roasted coffee is slightly different as the coffee is roasted using a bed of hot air. Producers who use the air roast method do so because it’s faster to process the coffee beans.
Air roasting is also cleaner, and it’s easier to duplicate the same taste with each batch. Some coffee drinkers particularly like air roasted coffee as it has a smoother taste and is less bitter than traditional coffee made from drum roasting methods.
The History of Air Roasted Coffee
Various chemical engineers developed air roasted coffee, but it wasn’t until 1970 that coffee consultant Mike Sivetz invented the fluidized air roasting bed. This new roaster changed the way that coffee was seen, and it became a specialty drink. Sivetz gained a patent for his air roasting bed in 1976.
Sivetz worked hard to develop the new air roasting technique as he was disappointed with the traditional coffee roasting methods available. Sivetz wanted to create something better and started experimenting with coffee roasting in his garage. Air roasting was mildly popular for a brief time in the 1970s. Today air roasting isn’t widespread, and most coffee drinkers have never heard of the process.
The Air Roasting Process
Many people enjoy air roasted coffee, and although it’s only found in small amounts, relative to the rest of the world’s coffee, it has achieved something of a cult following. Air roasted coffee tastes excellent as it’s smooth and isn’t bitter like many coffees are.
The air roasting process is relatively simple; a fluidized air roasting bed is used with the following process:
1. The coffee beans are placed into the roasting chamber, which has a bed of very hot air. A desired roast level will be set; this will include the roasting time and temperature, which will be pre-set.
2. The beans will then levitate on the hot air, which is being continually pushing into the roasting chamber. The roasting chamber and hot air are known as a “fluid bed.” Each coffee bean will revolve around the chamber by floating in the vortex. The hot air will roast it at a constant temperature on all sides.
3. Once the beans have been roasted, they will start to pop and crack, much like popcorn. The outer husk of the bean, which is known as the chaff, will be blown off the bean and removed by a collection chamber.
4. Once the coffee beans have been roasted to the correct level and the chaff has been removed, a cooling process will begin.
The Differences Between Air Roast Coffee and Drum Roasted Coffee
There are many differences between coffee that’s been air roasted and products that have been processed using more traditional methods.
Air-roasted coffee tastes slightly different than traditional coffee. It has a purer taste, is smooth, and less acidic or bitter than coffee which has been drum roasted. The reason that air-roasted coffee tastes better is that the chaff is removed during processing.
Traditional roasting methods don’t remove the coffee beans chaff during roasting. The chaff remains in the barrel while the coffee is roasted and often burns or smokes, which affects the coffee’s flavor.
One of the main differences between air roasted coffee and drum roasted coffee is the processing time. Air roasted coffee is quicker to make; it’s roasted for between four and eight minutes. Drum roasted coffee generally takes around fifteen minutes to roast.
If you’re interested in trying air roasted coffee, you’ll likely find that it has a smoother, less bitter taste. Air roasted coffee is a type of specialty coffee that is less readily available than other coffees, but it’s worth making an effort to find a supplier and taste this great coffee!