As the green coffee goes through its motions during the roasting process all the beautiful aromas are unleashed.

Well over 800 flavor and aroma compounds have been discovered in brewed coffee. Although we concentrate more on the main flavors and aromas as per the cupping notes from the importers.

To help understand what flavors and aromas are present in coffee, the Speciality Coffee Association of America (SCAA) in 1995 came up with a useful tool called the Flavor Wheel.

To recap the two main classes of compounds we are interested in (as coffee roasters and drinkers) are carbohydrates (sugars) and organic acids.

To make any sense of the two groups, think of the difference between a cheap white wine and a decent wine. The cheap wine maybe sharp, with a thin, short feel on the palate due to a lack of supporting sweetness and the dominance of just one or two acids. Better wine has a pleasing balance of crisp, clean flavors coming from a mix of a wider range of acids, some of which also impart a sense of sweetness or fruitiness over which all flavors and aromas are layered.

We have discussed the development of acids and sugars during the roasting process.

The important thing to note is aroma development during the roasting process. This takes place only after several minutes into the roasting process. Rapid development of volatile aromatic compounds occurs at around the time bean moisture drops below 5%. Caramelization and Maillard reactions, as well as degration of amino acids, sugars, phenolic acids, and lipids, contribute to the development of aromatics.

Caramelization yields fruity, caramelly, nutty, and other aromas, while Maillard reactions produce savory, floral, chocolaty, earthy, and roasted aromas, among others. The oils in coffee dissolve much of its volatile aromatic compounds and slowly release them as aroma during and after brewing. Aroma content peaks at a light to medium roast. With further roasting, aroma destruction outpaces its creation, and aromatics become smokier and more pungent. At Clock Peaks Coffee Roasters most roast profiles are medium to unleash optimum peak flavor to complement each other in acidity and body.

We avoid dark roasts where oils bleed to the bean surface. Interesting to note that the darker roasts (Full city and Viennese roasts) are regarded as the “crowd pleasers”, though most connoisseurs and third-wave companies frown upon such roasts. Critics contend that lighter roast highlights a bean’s uniqueness, while a full city or darker roast blunts too much of a coffee’s acidity and delicacy.

Next time try one of our Clock Peaks Coffee blends to experience our unique flavors and aromas!

The next article we will address the important role water plays in your brewed coffee.