• Type or quality

    As with the green, first impressions are very important. A roast that is dull, uneven, open and/or soft (with ears or shells) immediately raises suspicion. Conversely, a bright or brilliant, even and solid roast is not just pleasing to the eye but also suggests good cupping potential. For the average consumer of whole bean roasted coffee the most obvious eye-catching aspect is probably the evenness. An even roast is therefore a prerequisite for almost any coffee to make it to the end consumer in whole bean form. There are some exceptions: a few very well established naturals with less than optimal roast appearance are sold as whole bean, but these are coffees with an established reputation. The consumer is convinced they are good even if they do not 'look so good'. But 'new' coffees whose appearance does not match the general perception of what quality coffee should look like do not stand much chance in the whole bean market segment.

    The potential causes and remedies for many individual roast defects have already been identified in Section 11.05, the Green. The following therefore deals with more general roast defects that are under the control of producers and exporters.

    An even roast is all-important. In an even roast almost all the beans have roasted to about the same colour and brightness, with a white or whitish centre-cut that is not too irregular. There should be few obvious defects, preferably none.

    Wet-processed coffees usually produce the best roasts, especially when the parchment has been properly sun-dried. Brilliant roasts with white centre-cuts are a hallmark of well prepared and well dried coffee: under-drying, on the other hand, produces dull roasts. The centre-cuts in particular are indicative of the care taken during the processing and drying of washed and semi-washed coffee. Naturals (dried in the cherry) usually show dullish roasts with brownish centre-cuts and this makes it difficult to present most of them as whole bean. Unless well managed, mechanical drying using hot air may also dull the roast appearance.

    A brilliant or bright roast almost shines up at the viewer. It has a well defined, white to brilliantly white centre-cut and the beans are usually fairly hard or solid. When considering mixing or blending, one should always consider the roast of each individual component: mixing bright, solid roasts with dull and usually softer roasts may well result in an unattractive overall view that renders the coffee less suitable for presentation as whole bean.

    Dull and dullish roasts lack lustre and brightness. This is usually caused by under-drying, or sometimes by mechanical drying. Over-fermentation and the picking of overripe cherry can also cause dull roasts and will especially affect the colour of the centre-cut.

    In washed coffee, brownish centre-cuts or no center-cuts are suggestive of overripes, over-fermentation, use of dirty water or the presence of too many skins in the fermentation tanks. But naturals usually tend towards duller roasts, and brownish or almost no centre-cuts as a matter of course.
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