Ensure a Consistent Flavor Profile for Your Coffee Roast With a Spectrophotometer


Posted on May 20, 2016

Coffee’s Depth of Color Presents Challenges for Visual Quality Control

The complexity and density of color in a coffee bean makes it extraordinarily difficult for the human eye to accurately judge its hue. Dark colors are especially difficult for the eye to ascertain because the cones in our eyes naturally absorb more information from the longer (warmer) light wavelengths such as reds, oranges, and yellows. In fact, two-thirds of the cones in our eyes process warm colors, not cool colors.

Additionally, the many facets of a coffee bean reflect light from different angles. That makes looking into a bucket of freshly roasted coffee beans an incredibly rich sensory experience, with its density of aroma and depth of color. However, your eye could be perceiving hundreds or thousands of different brown tones in that one bucket, depending on how the light is reflecting off each bean.

For coffee roasters, maintaining a consistent darkness with each roast can be vital to your success on the market, and to attracting a base of return customers. To accurately assess the final darkness of each batch of freshly roasted coffee and develop that consistency, you’re going to need a tool that offers a greater degree of accuracy than the naked eye.

Spectrophotometers Lead the Industry in Quality Control for Coffee Roasting

Spectrophotometers are used for a wide swath of commercial quality control applications, but they offer very specific benefits to the coffee roasting industry, which relies so heavily on color as a quality determinant. Tools like the Hunterlab ColorFlex EZ Coffee are designed to accurately measure the color of a batch of roasted grounds—it can even assess freeze-dried coffee and instant powders. The coffee color scales provided with the firmware of the ColorFlex EZ Coffee include the SCAA Roast Classification, the SCAA number, and the HunterLab Coffee Color Index. To excel at your craft and make a splash in the commercial market, you’re going to need your coffee to consistently fit your parameters for lot-to-lot and batch-to-batch production quality, as well as fit smoothly into the SCAA classifications.

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