- Associated Press - Saturday, July 12, 2014

EFFINGHAM, Ill. (AP) - Starting as a pale green, the coffee beans rattle around the steel roaster, slowly transitioning to a golden brown.

Kevin Hiatt, owner of Joe Sippers Cafe, keeps close watch of the beans’ progress. While roasting the coffee beans, he is able to monitor the temperature of the beans using his iPad, which is connected to the roaster. He must also listen for a tell-tale sound.

“You hear that popping?” he asks. “That’s the first crack.”

This first “crack” is the sound of the bean expanding. Much like popcorn, coffee beans can only take so much heat before the water trapped inside escapes as steam, creating the “popping” sound.

Hiatt said the first crack is important in the roasting process. Once heard, he tries to slow the roast and draw out the transition process. A lot of the coffee’s flavor develops at this part of the roast, he said.

“At first, it’s pretty simple, you take green coffee, heat it up, and cook it,” Hiatt said. “But then you realize there’s infinite ways to do that. That’s every roaster’s dilemma.”

Hiatt has worked with coffee for nearly 10 years, but it is only recently he has expanded into roasting. During the roasting process he and his staff try to keep aspects, such as measurement, as consistent as possible. Though the scientific process of roasting is important, he said there is a level of craft involved that they have found to be equally important.

Hiatt compares the variety of roasts to a philosophy, with each roaster developing his or her own.

So far, Hiatt has kept the roasts light in order to preserve the flavor derived from the coffee bean’s origin. A darker roast can lead to a “second crack” which is used in certain types of roasts, but can also diminish natural flavor, he said.

One of the main advantages of roasting and brewing locally, Hiatt said, is freshness.

Miles Storm, who was a frequent customer of the cafe before he began working there four years ago, has become increasingly fascinated with how the origin of a coffee bean can determine its flavor and cooking the bean can bring it out.

“It’s just something that doesn’t seem like it should be so complex, but it really is,” he said.

Both Hiatt and Storm enjoy educating people on the intricate aspects that go into coffee production.

Hiatt has been cooking coffee beans in 5.25-ounce batches and selling them during select times at the Effingham Farmers Market in order to get feedback. While at the Effingham Farmers Market, Hiatt and Storm set up a roasting demonstration and display, showing the coffee bean at various stages before and after cooking it.

Though Hiatt is looking at getting a larger roaster and has several other potential ideas to progress his business, he plans to take his time - much like the roasting process.

“That’s my nature, to be cautious with how I progress the business,” he said. “We don’t want to give too much away.”

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Source: Effingham Daily News, https://bit.ly/UKBPY0

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Information from: Effingham Daily News, https://www.effinghamdailynews.com

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