Roasting & Brewing

Coffee Roasting

Coffee roasting is the process by which raw greens are molded into the finest specialty coffee that we know and love. It is a delicate process and one that ultimately impacts the quality of the taste of the coffee in your cup.

As the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) states, “Roast too quickly at too high a temperature, and you’ll scorch the exterior of the bean. Roast too slowly at too low a temperature, and you’ll sap the bean of its flavor.” Sounds simple but the value of expertise, and an eye and ear for detail cannot be understated. You must have just the right conditions when roasting to produce a premium cup of specialty coffee. And so with that in mind, we have provided an outline of the process for your knowledge.

Steps to Roasting a Premium Cup of Specialty Coffee

  1. Drying Cycle – This is the first phase of the roasting process, when the temperature of the beans rise and they begin to change color from a green color to a pale yellow.
  2. First Crack – At this stage, the bean begins to crack – indicating the roasting is about to begin.
  3. Roast Initiation – The bean begins to take on a brown color and starts to realize the various characteristics we coffee drinkers have come to love.
  4. Pause – Here is where  the art of roasting comes into play, as the roaster determines the proper amount of time to pause before moving on to the second crack.
  5. Second Crack – The stage in which the beans begin to carbonize, producing the burnt characteristics of some roasts.
  6. Stopping the Roast – This crucial step involves the introduction of cool air to stop the roast rapidly, so that the roast results in the desired characteristics.

Coffee Brewing

Coffee brewing, though overlooked by many, is key to a superior cup of coffee – for even the finest quality specialty coffee can be deleteriously altered at this stage if not brewed correctly. Subsequently, Electric City Roasting has put together this outline of some of the basic procedural steps.

Steps to Brewing a Premium Cup of Specialty Coffee



Amount of Water to Use

A typical coffee preparation requires a ratio of 1.0 – 1.5% coffee to 98.5 – 99% water.

Grams Ratio: 1g of coffee to every 15-16g of water (manual brewing).

Volume Ratio: 2 tablespoons of coffee to 6oz of water (auto-drip).

Water that tastes or smells “off” (chlorine, sulfur, iron) will inevitably produce “off” notes in your brew. Use filtered tap or spring water.  Water that ranges from 195-205 degrees Fahrenheit promotes the best extraction of solubles within a reasonable time. Shoot for 200 degrees – not right off the boil.


Grinding the Coffee for Brewing

Purchase your coffee whole bean for ideal freshness.  Coffee ought to be ground just before brewing for maximum freshness and flavor, and should be ground for the appropriate amount of time to prevent under- or over-extracting the flavor from the beans. Typically, courser grind sizes correlate to immersion styles of brewing that need a longer brew time, and finer grind sizes go with shorter brew times. For example, french press is a courser grind with a 4 minute brew time, and espresso is a finer grind with a 20-30 second brew time.   There are two main grinders: Burr and Chop. Chop grinders tend to leave the coffee with various grind sizes. Burr will keep the coffee relatively more consistent. This will produce a grind that will yield a more even extraction.


Choosing a Brewing Method

There are numerous brewing methods at-home coffee drinkers may make use of. A few of the most common are French press, Percolation, and Drip Filtration. With each, the particle size from above needs to be considered, as does temperature.


Filter Selection

(Other than French Press) – A well made filter ought to be used, though it should be stated that a non-filtered system such as a French Press will produce a coffee with the most defining characteristics the roaster intended it to have.  Metal Filters can retain gunk from previous brews. They will need proper cleaning before brewing. Paper filters tend to leave a papery taste, so they will need a proper rinse before use.



Time is critical. The coffee ought not to be brewed for too long or too short an amount of time. This again depends on the methods chosen above (grind size and brew method).  Generally, immersion (french press) methods need a 4 minute brew time, and filter/drip methods need 2-3 minute brew times.

If you have a question about brewing specialty coffee, please contact our SCAA Certified Cupper, Mary Tellie, or check out our Brewing Basics course!