Roasting Coffee: Technology or Art?


Along the Caffeination road trip I ran into a gentleman who told me “roasting coffee is first and foremost a technology, and if you do it well enough you can start to consider it an art”. Many others I spoke with had the opposite point of view on the matter. That the green coffee bean is a blank slate for them to artistically heat and rotate into a consumable final product. For those who feel that way, I would say the big issue here is that many of the consumers don’t know or feel that what they are drinking in your cafe every morning is somebodies “work of art” or even maybe their “masterpiece”. To most consumers a beverage or food item generally doesn’t fit into the realm of ‘art’.

I agree with both sides of the fence, leaning a bit more toward Lucciano, from Graffeo coffees statement. Roasting coffee is OF COURSE firstly a technology. Even the most primitive way to roast coffee that I can think of is using steel to hold and heat the coffee beans, which was invented at some point in the last few thousand years. Like anything, with a little time and practice, I think you can eventually begin to exceed the technological aspect of roasting and start to breech some level of artistry, but I think it is imperative to embrace the technology you are roasting with in order to elevate your skill beyond it.

Most importantly , if you begin roasting coffee, with the idea in mind that you are an artist, you should try painting coffee beans rather than roasting them. But if you enter the world of roasting with only the goal of mastering the craft at the forefront of your mind, you may be prepared to transcend beyond the technological limitations of roasting and take on roasting as an art.

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