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Coffee Density: What is It and What Does It Affect?

Coffee taste depends on the density of its beans. But in reality it is an ambiguous parameter: high density doesn’t always guarantee high quality of coffee. In this article we want to tell you more about coffee density, what it affects and how to consider it during roasting process.
Previously, in Central America, farmers didn’t taste coffee beans; instead, they were sorted by height of trees. It was considered that the higher the coffee grows, the higher the density of its beans. People believed that beans with high density have more pronounced taste, that’s why farmers could sell them at a higher price.

Indeed, the coffee taste depends on the density of its beans. But in reality it is an ambiguous parameter: high density doesn’t always guarantee high quality of coffee.

In this article we want to tell you more about coffee density, what it affects and how to consider it during roasting process.

What is coffee density

Coffee density, which is one of the key characteristics of coffee, is the ratio of mass per unit volume of a substance. In terms of coffee, it is measured on a scale from "strictly hard bean (SHB)" to "strictly soft bean (SSB)". But some countries may use other scales to measure it.

The coffee bean density depends on the following factors: ambient temperature, height of growth, and ripening time. The higher the coffee grows, the slower the metabolic processes occur. This is the reason why more organic matters accumulate in the coffee bean, and why it becomes denser. Due to higher temperatures, coffee grown at lower altitudes ripens faster and the texture of the beans becomes more porous.

How to measure density and what does it affect

There are two main ways to measure coffee bean density. The first one is to estimate the central line of green coffee. The more the bean is open, the softer it is. And vice versa, closed coffee bean tells about its high density. But this method isn’t accurate.

The second option is more trustworthy. Beans are poured into a 1 liter container and weighed, the number of grams per liter is the density of coffee.

This indicator influences the taste of coffee. The bean with high density has higher taste potential as this coffee is more acidic and brighter. Due to low oxygen, low metabolism, and high temperature fluctuations, beans contain more organic matters.

Depending on coffee density, roasters determine at what temperature and how long the beans should be roasted.

Features of roasting coffee beans with different densities

The higher the coffee bean density, the slower the heat penetrates inside it during roasting process. Therefore, dense beans can be roasted longer and at high temperatures.

Low density coffee heats up very quickly. At high temperatures, the outer layers of the beans can be immediately destroyed, and the inner ones may not heat up enough. So, less dense coffee beans are roasted faster and at lower temperatures.

It is necessary to control the time when roasting coffee beans. For dense ones - increase the time and the temperature. Then the heat will evenly penetrate inside. When roasting less dense beans, decrease the time to prevent overheating.

Undoubtedly, density plays a great role in the formation of coffee taste, but you shouldn’t emphasize only on it. Coffee needs to be evaluated comprehensively.

Coffee beans from Mr. Viet are expertly roasted in Dalat region, Vietnam. We do it based on density and other main indicators that form the taste of coffee. Mr. Viet is a freshly roasted coffee prepared in accordance with the traditions of Vietnam. Follow us to learn more about coffee and Vietnamese coffee culture!

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