Northern Lights Coffee is committed to providing the best coffee from start to finish. We only acquire the best beans to roast and utilize an air roasting method for premium quality and flavor. Every batch we make, we check the quality of the pre-roasted green beans by seeing if there are any flaws and deciding which roast will yield the ideal flavor profile for the particular beans. However, we not only want to provide the perfect cups of coffee, we are also in the business of teaching others how to roast. Our story started with a few people who have loved coffee for years and wanted to try their hands at roasting. From our humble beginnings to now, we want to share our knowledge so the customer can try roasting at home.
Our roasting method begins with an commercial grade fluid air bed roaster which floats the coffee beans in a stream of 500 degree air and develops the coffee's flavor, avoiding sour acids and bitter taste.
With Air Roasted Coffee you taste the coffee not the roaster. It’s the air that roasts the coffee not the surface of the roaster. So the coffee has a very clean taste that is intensely aromatic, minus the acids and bitter tars that are produced by conventional roasters. This roasting method was championed by Michael Sivetz, Chemical Engineer and Coffee Industry Consultant. He wrote the first scientific treatise on coffee, Coffee Technology. Disappointed with the state of roasting manufacturing, he developed and manufactured the first practical commercial air roaster: the Sivetz Fluid-Bed Roaster, in the 1970's.
Most drum roasters today introduce hot air into their roast chamber, then the beans tumble and touch the hot surfaces to roast, like clothing in a clothes dryer. The Sivetz system levitates the beans on a fluidized bed of hot air, keeping the beans moving and not scorching on hot surfaces. The sole use of hot air greatly increases the rate of heat transference to the beans, creating a cleaner, more aromatic roast free of bitter tasting tars. There are many other methods, including five most popular types of coffee roasters including the centrifugal roasters, the tangential roasters, drum roasters, packed bed and hot air roasters. Each have their own methods and advantages, but Northern Lights Coffee has found that electric fluid air roasting provides the most ideal flavor with the least amount of negative impact to the environment. We are star gazers at heart and want to do our part to make sure future gazers can look up to the sky, sip a cup of coffee, and lose themselves in the wonder.
Great coffee starts with green beans, the foundation of all coffee. Green beans are coffee beans that are pre-roasted, before they develop into light, medium, and dark roasts. First, we adjust the heat of our electric air roaster to a perfect temperature, depending on the roast profile. For light "Full City" roast, we start around 435-445 degrees Fahrenheit, 450-460 degrees for medium "Vienna" roast, and above 470 for dark "French" or "Italian" roast. Once the roaster is at the right temperature, we put the beans in, letting them whirl around the drum in a cyclonic motion. We do this to keep the beans from contacting the roaster surfaces and burning; the motion also provides an even heat, allowing all the beans to roast at the same time. Next, we monitor and record the temperatures and listen for ‘cracks.’
Cracking is the idea of roasting the moisture out of the bean. As the beans heat, the moisture comes out in explosive "pops" or "cracks". As the roast develops, ‘first crack’ tells us the moisture is being roasted out of the outer layers of the bean. After the first crack, we allow the beans to roast a bit longer, which makes the light roast. You must wait until the first crack to have an acceptable roast, otherwise the beans will not be ready to grind and consume.
The rest is timing and listening for end of the "first" crack and the start of the "second" crack. The "second' crack tells us the moisture is being driven out of the inner layer, the heart of the bean. We take the temperature every few minutes to ensure consistency. As the beans roast, how long we allow the "second" crack to develop, creates the different roast (medium, medium dark, and dark). Keeping a constant eye on the color of the bean while listening for the crack makes sure every batch we roast is perfect. Quality and taste take time, which we lovingly take in order to create the most delicious cups of coffee that can transport you to other worlds.
You can also roast from home, or over a campfire, in a cast iron skillet, as long as you constantly stir and rotate the beans. Experimenting with different times and cracks is the key to perfecting your own personal taste and roast. We at Northern Lights Coffee can specially roast any profile you prefer, but we would also love for you to try your own hand at home roasting. We also sell green beans so you can make your own, take it camping, or even make it a family night activity. Shoot for the stars and send us a message/order so you can start roasting your own coffee today!