emradguy Senior Member Joined: 31 Mar 2011 Posts: 3,685 Location: Houston Expertise: I live coffee
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Posted Fri Mar 16, 2012, 10:11am Subject: roasting coffee with raw brown sugar?
I don't do any home roasting, but my father-in-law is in Venezuela (live part time there, part time here) and he is planning on roasting some beans he got from his home town with piloncillo. It's basically a very crude raw brown sugar, used mostly in south american cooking. According to my mother-in-law (who's here at my house now) this is a very common practice down there. Has anyone ever heard of this? Does anyone know what the results may turn out like...and would anyone think the roasted beans might be suitable for espresso?
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StereoHeathen Senior Member Joined: 11 Sep 2011 Posts: 59 Location: New York City Expertise: Pro Barista
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Posted Fri Mar 16, 2012, 10:27am Subject: Re: roasting coffee with raw brown sugar?
I might be totally wrong, but it seems like any sugar roasted with coffee would come out burnt and blackened. Given that sugar caramelizes around 320F, and coffee is roasted to 400F+, I can't imagine the results being spectacular.
Posted Fri Mar 16, 2012, 10:28am Subject: Re: roasting coffee with raw brown sugar?
I suppose it is worth a try, if for no other reason than to experience something culturally different. I will say that it will never happen in my Hottop! I would guess that the brown sugar is added at the end of the roast or even just before cooling. Since sugar caramelizes at 320 to 350F. I can't imagine the mess it would make inside of a drum roaster, and certainly do not want to experience it.
I would theorize that this probably if found where pan roasting is the norm in areas where the coffees are of marginal quality or "real" coffee roasting appliances are non-existent.
Posted Fri Mar 16, 2012, 10:36am Subject: Re: roasting coffee with raw brown sugar?
I also would expect the sugar to burn during roasting. However I really like to sprinkle a little raw sugar over the coffee puck just before pulling a shot. It totally changes the extraction - it doesn't just make it sweet.
farmroast Senior Member Joined: 13 Jul 2006 Posts: 1,450 Location: Amherst MA. Expertise: Professional
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Posted Fri Mar 16, 2012, 1:12pm Subject: Re: roasting coffee with raw brown sugar?
Torrefacto roast, is usually roasted in a wok shaped pan a bit of liquid/water/butter then sugar is added at the end of the roast so it just gets a chance to brown before finish. The sugar is usually fine ground to coat better. You could roast in a normal roaster and dump just before end into a nonstick preheated pan and add sugar,stir to finish.
I came across a post somewhere (over a year ago) talking about cuban coffee and I either misunderstood what I read or not ... because since then people have told me that cuban coffee isn't even espresso and that it has tons of sugar and caffeine and uses robusta beans (or I could have it all backwards - again)
In any event I read that post at about the same time as I was learning that my RO water wasn't the best choice for espresso - that water with the right mineral balance extracts better. And by chance, I had the radio on NPR and a cooking expert was answering a question from a listener asking why they could soak and boil beans and yet they never got soft. The expert suspected "hard water" and said that based on the mineral content in water beans take more or less time boiling to soften up - and used as an example beans in water with tons of molasses or brown sugar, you can boil it longer and the beans don't get mushy because of the mineral content in the water doesn't burst the cellular matrix of the beans as much (or something like that).
So with those three ideas floating around in my head (hmmm .. maybe I need more minerals in my water, cuban coffee is brewed with sugar - and boiling stuff in sugar water behaves differently) --- I decided to try it. I posted here about it and some people suggested I'd be nuts to let sugar get into my machine and gum it up. But I had a few Gaggia carezza machines I was testing things on --- and figured I could clean/fix any problems or could afford to toss the machine if I ruined it (curiosity is a strong driver for me).
I have done this many times (like everyday) since then, machines with and without 3-way valve. I just backflush a few extra times with plain water. I've never had any indication of stickiness or build up in the machine --- but do this at your own risk, ok?
What I find is: First of all you have to be careful of dose - if you barely have room for the coffee puck, then the sugar may make it too high and hit the screen or you can't lock the PF. I just sprinkle a small amount ("sugar in the raw packet" - half a packet or a whole packet depending on my mood - I'm thinking 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon, though I don't measure - if I don't have packets, I just use a couple of pinches of raw sugar, enough for one layer of crystals across the top of the puck). The resulting shot is sweeter than if I pulled the shot and then added even twice as much sugar. The resulting shot is thicker and gooey feeling in the mouth. (like dark, dutch chocolate melted under your tongue) The pour runs slightly slower (no idea why)
My best guess is that the sugar dissolves instantly in the hot water and the water now has a different composition so it extracts the coffee more slowly/gently or perhaps it favors certain compounds in the coffee and resists others -- I'm no chemist -- but it definitely is different than pulling a shot and adding sugar after.
Sorry to take the roasting with sugar thread off track --- but if you decide to try it, I'd love to hear your results.
Posted Fri Mar 16, 2012, 4:58pm Subject: Re: roasting coffee with raw brown sugar?
Re: sprinkling raw sugar over the puck before pulling shot ... I came across a post somewhere (over a year ago) talking about cuban coffee and I either misunderstood what I read or not ... because since then people have told me that cuban coffee isn't even espresso and that it has tons of sugar and caffeine and uses robusta beans (or I could have it all backwards - again)
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