Saturday, December 22, 2012

Wood Roasted Coffee, anyone?

Antica Espresso Coffee Moka Ground - 250g

As Asians, we know that when food is cooked using charcoal or wood and usually over a longer period of time (without getting it burnt!), the flavor of the dish must be something to look forward to.

The Antica Tostarura Triestina (or Antica Espresso)'s Wood Roasted coffees takes 3-4 times longer to roast than coffee roasted using conventional electric or gas roasters. This is due primarily to the speed at which the internal temperature of the bean rises....wood taking longer time than gas or electric.

Here's the explanation from Antica Espresso:
"Coffee roasting is a process induced by heat that transforms the physical and chemical properties of green coffee beans into roasted coffee products.  Physically, the beans expand in size, turn from green to shades of brown, and while still maintaining a hard exterior, become a lot more fragile inside.  Chemically, the aromatics, acids and other flavor components are either created, balanced, or altered in a way that augments the flavor, acidity, aftertaste and body of the coffee beans as desired by the roaster.

To fully understand the coffee roasting process, one needs to understand the difference between the air temperature in the roaster and the internal temperature of the coffee bean itself.  Physical and chemical changes generally start take place during coffee roasting when the internal temperature of the bean rises to between 200-250°F.  The roasting process can continue through the point where the internal temperature of the bean is between 400-425°F (light roast), right up until when the internal temperature of the bean is around 500°F (very dark roast … keep an extinguisher handy).

The primary difference, however, between wood-roasting and conventional roasting (gas or electric) lies in the speed at which the internal temperature of the bean itself rises i.e. how quickly the temperature of the air in the roaster is transferred to the bean.  For centuries, coffee was roasted in wood-fired ovens.  It was not until the last 100 years or so that other heat sources such as natural gas and electricity have taken over from wood, both of which have primarily been used to speed up the roasting process and reduce cost … not to enhance the final product.

Fortunately, even with the advent of more modern heat sources, our roasters here at Antica Tostatura Triestina have steadfastly refused to abandon the time-honored, traditional, wood-fired roasting method.  Firstly, our beech wood-fired roaster slowly raises the temperature of the air in the roaster to between 500-525°F, significantly lower than conventional roasters that can quickly raise the temperatures of the air up to 840°F.  The consequence of roasting within this lower range is a much slower transformation (known as the Maillard Reaction for you chemistry geeks) of the bean as it rises in temperature.  This results in a roasting time that takes three to four times longer than traditional methods, but which allows us to retain many of the natural compounds by preserving more of the lipids, or “flavors”, within the beans.

This slow roasting process results in coffee that is lower in acidity and higher in body.  We also conserve the intense fragrance and natural properties of the coffee by cooling the beans after roasting quickly and rigorously, but only using fresh air.  Additionally, the heat produced by beech wood-roasting is extremely dry as the oxygen is quickly absorbed due to the combustion of the wood as opposed to the humid conditions of gas heat roasting which produces a significant amount of moisture during combustion.  You might also be thinking that similar to a wood-fired oven or grill, the smoke imparts a distinct flavor to the beans.  This is the case, however, the change in flavor characteristics are very subtle, providing more of a particular imprint rather than an altered profile.

This is what makes our coffee so unmistakable and unique in every sense."

Antica Buonissimo Espresso Whole Bean - 1kg

Is it any wonder then that Antica's wood roasted coffee is now my favorite coffee?

Ideal coffee for Cafe, Restaurant or Office - If you are a restaurant, cafe or office looking for a uniquely marketable coffee beans with excellent taste, click here or email us at info(at) for a quotation.

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