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Playing with Torrefacto

As a coffee lover and and a lover of things Spanish, I travel frequently to Spain and Mallorca and indulge my passion for Torrefacto coffee.

As I write this, a flight has already been booked for my next trip to Palma in a couple of weeks.

I made some torrefacto with Colombian beans about 6 months ago, and stored a kilo away for testing purposes. As the object of sugar roasting the beans is to preserve, I wanted to see how long the coffee would last.  (Reasons for sugar glazing)

This roast was made just into second crack at a temperature of @ 216C. It is a moderately light roast compared to the Robusta that I roast which is roasted darker to @230 and held for a while. The Robusta is added to a selection of dark roast berries and blended for espresso. Sometimes as many as 6 different varietals are used to achieve the right balance of bitter/acidity/sweetness which is controlled and changed through the espresso machine. I find Torrefacto works AMAZINGLY well in milk drinks. The development of the sugar coating and the addition of the steamed milk is mindblowingly good.

Some interest has been expressed in australian home roasting circles for making Torrefacto, and I have given my methodology for making  it. here

I dont claim its the best way, it works and its consistent and its as mess free as possible, which in my way of thinking is a good thing when working with sugar and syrups.

Back to the Torrefacto. I added 40% of the Colombian glazed beans to Colombian 5 day old roasted berries, and ground for usage in a Siphon coffee pot. (The Torrefacto does NOT ruin your grinder or cause any problems at all).  As I poured into the cup the aroma was fresh and bright. I usually add sugar to my coffee, and this time did not need to. There was not the heaviness of sweetness that sugar imparts, yet there was enough to carry the coffee ‘as is’ to suit my taste. The Torrefacto in the roast, reduces acidity in the coffee berry and makes for a mellowness without losing the fullness of the taste.

Did the age of the glazed beans cause a problem with tasting stale? No! the sugar preserved well.

I will be making a video of the process in due course.


Home Roasting in the Corretto and making Torrefacto.

For those that have been to Spain, and have fallen in love with the Cafe con leche and the espresso, and have tried to reproduce the taste at home and failed, its not because you made it wrong, its because of the absence of one type of roasted bean in the mix. The sugar roasted bean at which makes up 10-30% of the blend, the Torrefacto.

Encasing the bean in sugar during roasting does two things. It preserves the bean for an extended life, and also uniquely cuts down on the acidity in the taste. This enables a strong tasting coffee without bitterness or the acid bite. I have found that my coffee consumption goes way up when I go to Mallorca or Spain, (and its high to start with ) yet gratefully I dont suffer from increased heartburn. There is something about the taste of torrefacto, so much so that I decided to learn how to make it.

It has taken a year. A year of reading, watching, visiting Roasters in Spain, researching history in USA and in France. It actually is such a simple process but……. too easy to mess up if you want to put the beans through your roaster without destroying your drum or pan with caramelised sugar.

If you have a fancy miniature drum home roaster, dont do this process in it. If you have anything you want to keep as is, dont do this in it. You have been warned.

The only methods of making this are in a metal bowl with a hot air gun, or a Corretto (breadmaker) and following instructions carefully. Im taking no responsibility for your frustration or tears or ruined equipment, thats just the way it is.

The commercial machines used to manufacture torrefacto, are dedicated machines for that job. They have special pouring mechanisms for adding the sugar and special cooling so as to quickly get the sugar to dry off on each bean and not clump together. This is a small unit, the companies in Spain usually use 300-600 kilo machines.

OK.. so here I will tell you how to do it in a Corretto. (This breadmaker is being stripped for a design Im working on..but it still works fine)

Pre heat the drum to 265C and add your green beans. (I roast Torrefacto in 300gram batches) Allow the beans to ‘dry’ by leaving them on the low setting of the gun for 4 minutes or so. (During this time you will see the temp rise about 4-6 degrees a minute). Once the temp is above 130C, watch for the beans colour change to yellowish..raise your heat rate to about 10 degrees C a minute. At about 175-185C  add 12% of the green bean weight, of sugar, directly into the roasting beans. Close the lid and keep roasting. At this stage, your Corretto will smoke and smell of burning caramel and neighbours might be thinking that they should call the fire service. Ignore them.

Keep a wooden spoon handy in case you have to occasionally scrape down the sides of the corretto basket if one or two beans stick. DO NOT LOSE YOUR NERVE at this point. Its easy to get panicky when seeing a gloopy mess. If you have followed these instructions concerning weights, there should not be a gloopy mess, if you havent… it will take 2 hours of cleaning involving heat, sand and lots of elbow grease.

Continue roasting the bean of your choice in the pan, to the timings that you like for that particular roast. Now the last batch I did was Old Brown Java, and I like to dump them just at the onset of second crack, however this time I let second crack develop for 20 seconds or so and then dumped.

I dump onto flat roasting tins and shake for 30 seconds so nothing will stick. If Im roasting in the UK.. The weather will cool them off in double quick time.. Once cooled the beans are completely shiny, dry to the touch and no stickiness what so ever. If you crack one open, they look exactly the same as a normally roasted bean.

If there is any sugar left in your basket, and there should not be, just the odd fleck here and there, just proceed with your next non torrefacto roast and the basket will be perfectly cleaned.

I usually mix Torrefacto at a ratio of 20% by volume to the same single origin bean. If I am doing a blend, say 30% Old Brown Java, 20% Malabar, 20% Brazil, I will use 30% Torrefacto. (If I am going for the ‘full’ taste, I will make torrefacto out of Robusta, its a personal choice)

In the cup as an espresso, there is a gentle sweetness and decided lack of too much acidity whilst retaining the strength of the coffee. In a latte.. well I just make cafe con leche. A long pour of coffee and equal amount of steamed milk. It is my favourite milk based coffee.

Try it and see

Sugar glazing Coffee beans invented in USA

                Old Coffee Roasters       

While researching roaster patents, I ran across this interesting 1886 coffee patent. Be sure and read the reply I received regarding this patent from 1840Coffee, AKA Donald Schoenholt of Gillies Coffee Co., New York. Thank you, Don, for sharing this wonderful historical information on Mr. Arbuckle. 

Richard Hagan


United States Patent Office

John Arbuckle, JR., Allegheny City, Pennsylvania.

Letters Patent No. 73,486, dated January 21, 1868


Improvement in Roasted Coffee.

To all whom it may concern:

Be it known that I, John Arbuckle, Jr., of the city and county of Allegheny, in the State of Pennsylvania, have invented a new and useful Improvement in “Roasted Coffee;” and I do hereby declare that the following is a full and exact description thereof.

The nature of my invention consists in roasting coffee and then coating it with a glutinous or gelatinous matter, for the purpose of retaining the aroma of the coffee, and also act as a clarifying-agent when the ground coffee has been boiled in water.

To enable others skilled in the art of “roasting coffee” to use my invention, I will proceed to describe its operation or preparation.

I take any good article of green coffee, and roast ti by any of the known means. I then cool it as quickly as possible. I then prepare a mixture of the following ingredients, in about the following proportions: One ounce of Irish moss; half an ounce of isinglass; half an ounce of gelatine; one ounce of white sugar; and twenty-four eggs. I boil the Irish moss in a quart of water, and then strain it. I then boil the isinglass and gelatine in a pint of water. I then mix the sugar and eggs well together, and when the mixture of Irish moss, isinglass, gelatine, and water has become cold, I mix the whole of the ingredients into one homogenous compound. I then pour the whole over about one hundred pounds of the roasted coffee, and stir and so manipulate the coffee that each grain will be entirely coated, after the coffee is coated, and the coasting has become dry and hard, which is accomplished by forcing currents of air through it while stirring it, for the purpose of coating it with the glutinous or gelatinous matter described.

I wish it clearly understood that I do not confine myself to the above compound of glutinous matter for coating roasted coffee, for many other compounds may be formed which will accomplish the end desired, to wit, coating roasted coffee in the manner and for the purpose set forth.

What I claim, is-

Coating roasted coffee with any glutinous or gelatinous matter, for the purpose of retaining the aroma of the coffee, and also act as a clarifying-agent, as herein described and set forth.


John Arbuckle, Jr.


James J. Johnston,

A. C. Johnston.


Donald Schoenholt’s reply,

 Mr. John Arbuckle, who went on to become the greatest coffee roaster of his generation and the creator of the first national brand, “ARIOSA,” was also one of the richest men in America during the gilded age of the 1880s and ’90s. Arbuckle Bros. produced ARIOSA, known as “the coffee that won the West,” and also roasted and packed several other popular brands, including their premium YUBAN brand (now owned by Kraft), which was the best selling brand in New York for years.

Arbuckle’s coffee was distributed in the age before lined paper bags, and coffee went stale and rancid pronto.  Coating, or “glazing” as it came to be known, was a way to lengthen its shelf life by keeping air away from the beans.  Many different compounds were used in the coffee trade. Arbuckle Bros. settled on a sugar based glaze.  They became such a prodigious user of sugar that they decided to enter the sugar business rather than give a profit on the huge quantities they needed to others.  The Sugar Trust didn’t like that much and decided to enter the coffee business to spite Arbuckle.  For the better part of the next generation, the Sugar Trust’s LION COFFEE battled it out with Arbuckle’s brands throughout the courts and the cities of the nation.  The first great advertising campaign in history was this coffee war.  After fought to a stand-still, the sugar boys quit the coffee business, and the Arbuckle brothers were triumphant.  They strode upon the national stage until their deaths in the early part of the 20th Century.  Their heirs sold the business to Mr. C.W. Post (of Post Toasties and Postum fame), who was putting together a little company at that time that would be called General Foods.  Mr. Post joined the Arbuckle brands with the other little roaster he had just acquired from the Cheek Neal Coffee Co.; it was called Maxwell House.

With the advent of the Pure Food & Drug Act (1906), and the development of better packaging that retained freshness longer, glazing fell out of fashion.

Sugar glazed beans, now referred to as “torrefaction coffee,” still retain a market in Spain and South America.


P.S.  LION COFFEE went broke eventually and languished in the Ohio court system as just a moldy old file until found by an entrepreneur who arranged with the court to revive the brand name.  It was moved to Hawaii where the lion, after two generations of slumber, roars again as a retailer, roaster and wholesaler of Hawaiian blend coffees.





It will pay you well to keep a small coffee mill in your kitchen, and grind your coffee, just as you use it, one mess at a time. Coffee should not be ground until the coffee-pot is ready to receive it. Coffee will lose more of its strength and aroma, in one hour after being ground, than in six months before being ground. So long as Ariosa remains in the whole berry, our glazing, composed of choice eggs, and pure confectioners sugar, closes the pores of the coffee, and thereby all the original strength and aroma are retained. Ariosa Coffee has, during 25 years, act the standard for all other roasted coffees. So true is this, that other manufactures in recommending their goods, have known no higher praise than to say: “It’s just as good as Arbuckles.”

Torrefacto-Roasted Coffee Has Higher Antioxidant Properties

ScienceDaily (Mar. 10, 2008) —

Torrefacto-roasted coffee has higher antioxidant properties than natural roast, according to the dissertation defended by a biologist of the University of Navarra, Isabel López Galilea. She has emphasized in her study that the addition of sugar during the roasting process increases the development of compounds with high antioxidant activity.

The researcher of Department of Food Sciences, Physiology and Toxicology of the University of Navarra analyzed eleven varieties of commercial coffee for her study, which was entitled “The Influence of Torrefacto Roasting on the Principal Components of Coffee and its Antioxidant and Pro-oxidant Capacity.”

As this scientist of the School of Sciences emphasized, numerous studies have shown the benefits of this drink. In particular, it is considered to be one of the best sources for antioxidants in the diet; these substances help to protect us against free radicals, which are a cause of premature aging and certain diseases. Coffee has an antioxidant capacity which is ten times higher than other drinks, such as red wine and tea, according to the researcher.

Antioxidant capacity varies according to preparation method

In order to carry out this research, Isabel López analyzed the coffee consumption habits of the inhabitants of Navarra, via 300 surveys. The results showed that Navarrans consume an average of 125 ml of coffee per day, with consumption slightly higher among women. In addition, they primarily consume ground coffee resulting from a mixture of natural roast and torrefacto-roast coffees, and the coffee is generally prepared with Italian or mocha coffee makers, followed by the filter, espresso and pump methods.

After confirming the increased antioxidant capacity of ground coffees roasted using the torrefacto process, she showed how these properties were present in the brewed coffee, which is the typical form of coffee consumption. In regard to the different preparation methods, she discovered that espresso machines produce a drink with the highest antioxidant capacity, more than coffee produced by the Italian, filter and pump methods. These properties may be due to the greater content of ‘brown compounds’ [compuestos pardos] developed during the roasting process, as well as to polyphenic compounds and caffeine.

In addition, she demonstrated that both the compounds contained in coffee as well as its aroma are affected by the type of roast and the system of extraction; nevertheless, this is a topic that will require further study in order to identify results under varying conditions.

In her study, Dr. López identified 34 volatile compounds with high aromatic impact on coffee drinks, and new aromatic compounds were detected, such as octanol, which produces an intense orange aroma.

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