Roasting with all your senses: the First Crack Moment
Whoever has roasted coffee himself or has been present during coffee roasting knows that this is not just blunt button pushing, but an art that requires all the senses.
The Frist Crack is a kind of milestone in any roasting process. When it takes place depends on the respective batch size - but what exactly happens in the process?
The First Crack is a physical process that we can hear - similar to popcorn corn popping in the pan. The high temperatures cause the bean to enlarge and the water it contains begins to evaporate. The resulting steam and pressure cause the beans to "pop," which is what we call a First Crack. The audible "POPP" is preceded by a unique smell. Contrary to expectation, coffee roasting does not smell like the special coffee aroma, but rather like a mixture of toasted bread and popcorn. Shortly before First Crack, sweet aromas are added to this distinctive smell. Experienced coffee roasters know that the beans now start to brown and caramelization begins - the so-called Maillard reaction sets in. Many of you might be already familiar with this process from baking sessions, where proteins and sugars are transformed into new compounds under the influence of heat. This provides a golden crust, but also for the beautiful brown tones of our popular beans.
Beginning of the critical roasting phase
While flavors of fine caramel are developing, at the same time the critical phase in the roasting process begins. The First Crack is an exothermic reaction, so the beans give off heat. Shortly thereafter, another endothermic reaction takes place and the beans absorb heat again. If the roasting temperature drops too much during this time, the beans are baked instead of roasted, which has a negative effect on the taste. As a result, the finished coffee then often tastes bread-like or papery. However, if the temperature is too high, the beans can develop undesirable bitter substances. Especially in the specialty sector, beans are not roasted much longer than first crack in order to bring out the natural aromas and flavors without becoming bitter. These roast profiles are then referred to as either "Light" or "Medium", the beans are roasted light brown to medium brown and have a matte surface.
The Second Crack
The name First Crack suggests that there is also a "Second Crack". In fact, it does, but for our roastery it does not matter, because we do not roast our beans that long. Most of the roast profiles are somewhere between first and second crack, but there are also special dark roasts that stay in the drum even longer. The beans are then dark brown to black, have an oily surface and a bitter, often burnt taste.
Our First Crack Moment
At 19grams we rely on a much gentler roasting, because the beans remain only a few moments after the First Crack in the roasting drum. After about eleven roasting minutes (more or less, depending on batch size and bean type), the drum is emptied. Thereupon, the beans are cooled under constant stirring, so that they retain their unique flavor profile and do not re-roast.