Roasting coffee transforms the chemical and physical properties of green coffee beans into roasted coffee products. The roasting process is what produces the characteristic flavor of coffee by causing the green coffee beans to change in taste. Unroasted beans contain similar if not higher levels of acids, protein, sugars, and caffeine as those that have been roasted, but lack the taste of roasted coffee beans due to the Maillard and other chemical reactions that occur during roasting.
The vast majority of coffee is roasted commercially on a large scale, but small-scale commercial roasting has grown significantly with the trend toward “single-origin” coffees served at speciality shops. Some coffee drinkers even roast coffee at home as a hobby in order to both experiment with the flavor profile of the beans and ensure the freshest possible roast.
The first recorded implements for roasting coffee beans were thin pans made from metal or porcelain, used in the 15th century in the Ottoman Empire and Greater Persia. In the 19th century, various patents were awarded in the U.S. and Europe for commercial roasters, to allow for large batches of coffee. In the 1950s just as instant coffee was becoming a popular coffee drink, speciality coffee-houses began opening to cater to the connoisseur, offering a more traditionally brewed beverage. In the 1970s, more speciality coffee houses were founded, ones that offered a variety of roasts and beans from around the world. In the 1980s and 1990s, the gourmet coffee industry experienced great growth.