Now THAT’S Some GREAT Coffee!

Let’s face it: Americans ruin coffee in ways other than overgrinding, including burning the beans during the roast to hide their inferior flavor.

Seriously, burned beans are not roasted. They’re burned. Don’t burn your beans – roast them!

Have you ever roasted peanuts and eaten them charred to a black crisp? No? Then why are you doing that with your coffee?

Charred food is one of the leading causes of cancer. That alone should perk up your ears. It’s why the Bible says to roast your beef, not burn it. Roasting something requires heating it at a distance from the flame to the point where certain chemical changes occur but it doesn’t char. For meat, that’s between 140 and 165 degrees. The juices, including the fat, are supposed to drain into the fire, “an aroma pleasing to God.” They’re not healthy for you. When meat is heated beyond 165 deg F, the protein breaks down and it becomes very tough. If you thoroughly overcook it for hours, it’ll become soft again, but then the protein has broken down even further, into something your body never evolved to recognizes. It’s NOT healthy for you.

Moreover, charred beef is a known carcinogen. Even searing beef produces a carcinogenic layer of charred meat. Burning pretty much any food, including bread into toast, produces a carcinogenic layer of char. “Light gold” is about the darkest you ever want to cook your bread. If it’s more brown than this but not cooked on the inside, you’re using too high a temperature or too large a loaf.

When did “charred” become a coffee flavor? I think it was when Starbucks expanded. The first cup of Starbucks I ever tasted gave me serious heartburn. That can’t be healthy. I think that’s why Starbucks adds milk to everything, to sooth your heartburn. They don’t offer an actual lightly roasted coffee. The company must have been started by a gastrointestinal oncologist to help him and his med school buddies create large mansions with built-in backyard swimming pools, not to mention small yachts.

If you want a REAL cup of coffee, go to most any place in Germany or Italy (probably other European countries) and order a light roast. They’re actually LIGHTLY roasted. I’ve never had a bad cup of coffee in Europe. Then again, they don’t char their beans before grinding. They ROAST them, not BURN them, and by roasted I mean “heated until they’re no longer green.”

Raw coffee beans are somewhat more pale than split peas. Properly roasted coffee beans are the same color as sheaves of wheat. Remember, when it comes to beans, green usually meant “poisonous,” so people would roast them to break down the toxins.

They wouldn’t burn them. That’s stupid. Who intentionally burns their food? Apparently, some coffee drinkers who can’t discern the difference between “rich” and “charred.”

Coffee snobs speak of the first and second endothermic phases and cracks, with caramelized sugars, burned sugars and even carbonized sugars. The key temperature points are 345 deg F, 370, 400, 444, 446, 465, 474, and 486 for the “Italian Roast.”

Did anyone ever read or watch Fahrenheit 451? Do you recall the significance of 451? The point at which paper, an organic compound, will spontaneously leap into flame? So, clearly, anything near 450 degrees is probably not healthy, as that’s the temperature at which organic materials burn.

As it turns out, 300 to 350 deg F. is the magic range. That’s before all the “first crack” and the “first exothermic phase. Those points involve chemical decomposition, and not of the healthy kind.

The key word is “Maillard Reaction,” an umbrella term for certain chemical reactions involving the enzymatic browning of cooked foods which occur between 140 C (284 F) and 165 C (329 F).

Please note that upper limit is 329 deg F. Beyond that, you’re not roasting. You’re burning.

When it comes to coffee, “As the beans reach a temperature of about 345ºF (174ºC) they start turning brown and a “toasty” odor can be smelled.”

In reality, they’ll turn brown at 300 if you give them a few more minutes. If you’ve ever roasted your own coffee beans (or want to) try this: Place raw beans on a cookie sheet or large, shallow roasting pan, spreading them out evenly. You should not have multiple beans deep. One bean per layer and one layer, please.

Take one bean out and place it on the counter. Place the pan containing all the other beans in the oven, center rack, turn your oven to 325 deg F, turn on the oven light, grab a book, a chair, sit down and start reading, occasionally comparing the beans in the oven to the raw bean on the counter.

As soon as you see a discernible difference, watch them carefully. The beans around the edges will brown first, and remove the pan from the oven when the edge beans are the medium-brown color of a chocolate chip cookie or Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pies. No darker! The interior beans will be lighter, the color of wheat, which is what you want.

Turn off the oven and allow them to cool for an hour before storing them in a paper bag.

Congratulations! You now have a bag of properly-roasted coffee beans!

That’s it! That’s the UPPER end of proper “roasting.” You have roasted them. You have not burned them, much less charred them.

Now, do a coarse to medium grind, put a heaping tablespoon in your $12 French Press, and add boiling water. Gently stir for 60 seconds. Let stand for 2 minutes. Press, pour, and without adding ANY milk, cream, sugar, or other additive, ENJOY!

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