air roasting coffee vs. traditional drum roasting coffee

Coffee is harvested and then roasted before it becomes the staple beverage that so many people enjoy each morning. The process behind harvesting and roasting coffee is how we make coffee every day. How are coffee beans harvested? How does this roasting process occur? We will discuss both the harvesting and roasting processes in more detail in this article. Particularly, we will explain the differences between air roasting coffee vs. traditional drum roasting coffee. We will look at these processes and what happens to the coffee bean throughout. Furthermore, we will explore how all of this impacts the result: your freshly brewed cup of coffee.


Everyone knows what coffee is, right? Let’s investigate the plant and the process of creating this beverage. A genus of plants known as Coffea is where coffee comes from. There are thousands of species of trees and shrubs in this genus. Scientists estimate that there are approximately 25 to 100 species of coffee plants. It is not commonly known that the coffee bean comes from a fruit. Once a coffee tree is planted, it takes three to four years before the fruit of the tree (the coffee cherry) is ready to be picked. There are two ways to harvest coffee beans:

  • Selectively picking allows only the ripe fruits to be picked. This method is more labor intensive and therefore costlier, but it produces better results as all the cherries are ready for harvesting.

  • Strip picking is where all the cherries are stripped off the branch at once, regardless of their ripeness. This can occur either by hand or machine. This method is less labor intensive and cheaper, but its results are not as ideal because of the presence of the unripe berries.

In most places that coffee is grown, there is only one harvest season each year. 100 to 200 pounds of coffee cherries produces approximately 20 to 40 pounds of coffee beans. Coffee beans are usually stored green because once they are roasted, the longevity of freshness lessens. For this reason, they are generally roasted after they are imported. This is done to provide the consumer with fresh coffee beans or coffee grounds, depending on their preference. How does the roasting process work? The green coffee bean is chemically changed in the roasting process to become the coffee bean that we are all more familiar with. Prior to the roasting process, the beans are soft and spongy to touch. The smell is different too, being more grass-like. After roasting, the beans are hard and crunchy to touch. The moisture has been dried out of them and therefore they are also lighter in weight after roasting. At this point, they smell like coffee and are ready to be ground and brewed. This is the product that we are all familiar with.

how is coffee roasted?

In most roasting processes, the green coffee beans are put into a roasting chamber and roasted for specific length of time and a given temperature. The time and temperature depend upon the desired roast. There are dark, medium, and light roasts available for coffee today. Darker roasts are darker in color, have oil on the surface, and are not as flavorful because they often are more bitter tasting. Medium roasts are the most popular because they have a balanced flavor, aroma, and acidity. Lighter roasts are lighter in color, do not have any oil on the surface and are most acidic.

Air Roasting Coffee vs. Traditional Drum Roasting Coffee

As mentioned, there are two main ways to roast coffee beans. We will go into further detail here:

How are the coffee beans moved around inside the roaster?

  • Air Roasting Coffee: You can think of air roasted coffee like a popcorn machine. The green coffee beans are moved around the roasting chamber by the air inside.

  • Traditional Drum Roasting Coffee: Drum roasting is where the coffee beans are moved around inside the roaster by a mechanical arm.

How evenly are the beans roasted?

  • Air Roasting Coffee: This method provides an even, consistent roast. Unlike the drum roasters where the beans are moved around by the arm, air roasting provides more control and duplicability. This occurs because all the coffee beans are exposed to a very consistent and even temperature.

  • Traditional Drum Roasting Coffee: The coffee beans do not roast as evenly in this method depending on placement in batch. They may be sitting on top, in the middle of the batch or even on the bottom of roasting drum. This is a less consistent way of roasting as it is possible for some coffee beans to always be in contact with the roasting drum and become burnt.

How long does it take to roast coffee beans?

  • Air Roasting Coffee: Air roasting beans can take as little as 6 to 8 minutes in a commercial roaster.

  • Traditional Drum Roasting Coffee: It takes anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes to roast beans using this method. The problem with this is that the longer the beans roast and the hotter they get the more flavor is lost.

What happens to the chaff in the roasting process?

  • Air Roasting Coffee: What happens to the coffee bean chaff in air roasting? It is removed throughout the roasting process as it rises into what’s called a cyclone. It then leaves the roasting chamber. Because it is removed as the roasting process progresses, it does not burn or alter the flavor of the beans.

  • Traditional Drum Roasting Coffee: Another issue with drum roasting is the coffee bean chaff. Chaff is the dried skin or hull of the coffee bean. It comes off as the green bean is roasted. Within a drum roaster, there is nowhere for this chaff to go. It stays in the drum throughout the roasting process and can burn or smoke which then creates a different flavor in the roasted beans. This happens more frequently in dark roasted beans as they take a longer amount of time in the drum. Often people will remark that the coffee tastes burnt if this occurs.

After evaluating air roasting coffee vs. traditional drum roasting coffee, you are probably wondering what a good choice for air roasted coffee is. Look no further than, Top Notch Nutrition!

Top Notch coffee is air roasted in small batches to ensure the highest quality, consistency, and freshness. As previously mentioned, air roasting coffee vs. traditional drum roasting coffee creates a much more smooth, clean, and rich taste to your coffee. Top Notch coffee will never taste bitter, burnt, or too acidic.

We also discussed that during the process of air roasting, the chaff is completely removed. This is often what is left behind and burns during traditional drum roasting of coffee. There is much more control in air roasting and the beans are all roasted at the same even temperature. Air roasting guarantees you can recreate the exact same coffee repeatedly! In addition to air roasting, Top Notch Nutrition focuses on a few other specifics when it comes to their coffee including:

  • Ethically Sourced. It’s About People, Not Profit.
    Have you ever investigated where your coffee comes from? We are proud to say that our coffee is 100% ethically sourced straight from farms where the workers are treated well and compensated fairly. Most coffee comes from third world countries and does not always provide good conditions or fairness to the workers. The process of harvesting and producing coffee is very labor intensive.We discussed that some companies often strip the entire branch of berries, including the ones that are not ripe yet. Our coffee is harvested by hand, and only when it’s ready to have the best quality beans, and the most consistent and best taste.There is so much work to be done for one cup of coffee. When you appreciate the whole process (and especially respecting those workers who make it possible!) it makes your cup of coffee that much more enjoyable.

  • Fair Trade Organic & Specialty Grade.
    Top Notch coffee is FTO (fair trade organic) & it is specialty coffee, which means it is in the Top 5% of coffee in the whole world. Being able to offer specialty grade coffee is an honor. You can truly taste the difference!Fair trade means that everyone in the process, from farm workers, to farmers, to exporters, are all treated and paid fairly. Coffee is grown in some of the poorest nations on earth and a Fair Trade designation means that those who are trying to live and survive in the coffee fields are getting the wage and respect they deserve.

  • No Shortcuts. Quality First. No Fillers, Pesticides or Chemicals.
    It would be much easier to roast a huge drum full of beans to be more efficient with time and resources. That’s not how we roll at Top Notch Nutrition. We make sure it is the best, even if it takes longer, is more labor intensive, and not as cost effective. Top Notch coffee has the best process, the best beans, and the best handling. We don’t take any shortcuts!Because our coffee is certified organic there are no harmful pesticides used in its growing, harvesting, or processing. For the most part the grade of coffee we use (top 5% in the world) lends itself to little to no chance of toxins, as they are not naturally found in coffee.Toxins have been found with some forms of decaffeination, but the special sugar cane process that is used with our beans is a natural cold process that keeps the coffee free of chemicals, caffeine and toxins.

top notch nutrition coffee blends


The Top Notch Signature Blend: It is named Hometown because this coffee is locally roasted in our hometown of Rapid City, South Dakota. This is a private reserve coffee special to Top Notch Nutrition. It has notes of butter and toasted hazelnut. It is a perfect blend beans that provides a smooth, mild taste that is sure to be enjoyed by all coffee drinkers.

ethiopia blend

Ethiopia Blend is the current specialty and when it’s gone, it’s gone! There is an amazing story behind this coffee. Do you know how coffee was first discovered? According to an Ethiopian legend, a goat herder named Kaldi noticed that his goats were acting particularly energetic and jumpy after eating berries from a specific tree. Curious about these berries, he tried them out for himself. Kaldi had similar effects, feeling alert and full of energy. He then made a drink from the berries, and there you have it…coffee was born.

Ethiopia is also the only place where coffee is native. That is why we called this coffee “The Goat.” Not only was coffee originally discovered by goats, but Ethiopia is the sole place where coffee began & grew naturally and because of that, we also consider this coffee “The G.O.A.T.” (The Greatest Of All Time).


Columbia blend is our decaffeinated coffee. We guarantee this will be the best tasting cup of decaf coffee you have ever tried. Traditionally, decaf coffee is stripped of caffeine by chemicals and hot processed, taking out all the positive benefits of coffee. It is also often over roasted or burnt to try and make it somewhat “flavorful” after being stripped with heat and chemicals.

Top Notch decaf coffee is cold processed and uses a natural solvent in sugar cane, which naturally soaks out the caffeine. This preserves the flavor of the bean and preserves the benefits of the coffee itself. Don’t worry, the sugar and coffee don’t meet – there is no sugar in this coffee. This is the first decaf that you won’t be able to tell the difference.


Before reading this article, you probably thought, “isn’t all coffee roasted the same way?” It is eye-opening to understand the difference between air roasting coffee vs. traditional drum roasting coffee. We want to provide the information needed so you can make informed decisions when it comes to supporting your diet and your overall health. Choosing the right products to enhance your ketogenic plan can help you create a sustainable diet that will produce results. We truly feel that Top Notch Nutrition’s Coffee using the air roasting method is a top choice if you are looking for the best coffee. You can buy one of the blends from Top Notch Nutrition as they top the list for not only coffee but particularly air roasted coffee.

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