This research investigates the relative importance of two roasting parameters—colour (i.e., roast degree) and time—on the sensory properties of coffee. The paper draws on data from eight studies conducted using sensory descriptive analysis with trained (in six studies) or semi-trained (in two studies) assessors, focusing on a common set of attributes. The results indicated that, while both parameters significantly affected coffee flavour, colour was the stronger predictor of the two. The effects direction for both colour and time were similar and related to the rate of non-enzymatic browning, with darker roasts/longer roasting times associated with an increase in bitterness and a decrease in acidity, fruitiness, and sweetness. With respect to roasting time, we distinguished two phases, “time to first crack”, corresponding to the time between the onset of roasting and the moment where the accumulated steam pressure causes the beans to crack, and “development time”, corresponding to the time elapsed from the first crack to the end of the roasting process. The results clearly indicated that, under the same colour, time variation also influenced flavour, and in particular, development time, rather than time to first crack, had the largest effect on coffee flavour.
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