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Fireside Coffee Company - Guatemalan
Fireside Coffee Company - Guatemalan
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$20 at Amazon
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Fireside Coffee Company - Guatemalan
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Have you ever wondered what makes fire-roasted coffee unique and special? We have just the answers for you. This in-depth look into everything fire-roasted coffee offers a foolproof introduction to the unique coffee – a welcoming and informative invitation to try out this special coffee.

Ready to try out commercially available fire-roasted coffee? Here are our favorite fire-roasted coffee roasters and brands that guarantee superior quality and fresh batches.

A Deeper Look at Our Picks

Fireside Coffee Company - Guatemalan

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4.6 out of 5 • Buy it for $20 at Amazon

Fireside Coffee Company - GuatemalanFireside Coffee Company - Guatemalan

Features

Fire Bean Coffee Roasters take pride in their Yukon wood-fired coffee that achieves a uniquely smoky, delicious, and well-rounded flavor. The aromatic coffee comes in a selection of 7 interesting options. 

These include the bright & fruity Ember Light Roast,  sweet & mellow Fireweed Medium Roast, mellow & smooth Kindling Medium Roast, creamy & mellow The Stoke Medium Roast, and balanced Bushfire Medium Roast. Others are the complex Starfire Medium Dark Roast and the strong & bold Inferno Dark Roast.

If you are unsure of which roast to go with, you can sample them by option for the All 7 Roasts pack. You can choose between a 7x4-ounce, 7x12-ounce, or 7x1lb bag in whole bean, auto drip, fine, espresso, or coarse blends.

Pros

  • Energy
  • Flavors
  • Roast
  • Source

Cons

Fire Bean Coffee Roasters

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4.5 out of 5 • Buy it for $57 at Fire Bean Coffee

Fire Bean Coffee RoastersFire Bean Coffee Roasters

Features

Fire Bean Coffee Roasters take pride in their Yukon wood-fired coffee that achieves a uniquely smoky, delicious, and well-rounded flavor. The aromatic coffee comes in a selection of 7 interesting options. 

These include the bright & fruity Ember Light Roast,  sweet & mellow Fireweed Medium Roast, mellow & smooth Kindling Medium Roast, creamy & mellow The Stoke Medium Roast, and balanced Bushfire Medium Roast. Others are the complex Starfire Medium Dark Roast and the strong & bold Inferno Dark Roast.

If you are unsure of which roast to go with, you can sample them by option for the All 7 Roasts pack. You can choose between a 7x4-ounce, 7x12-ounce, or 7x1lb bag in whole bean, auto drip, fine, espresso, or coarse blends.

Pros

  • Variety Pack Offers More Options
  • Light to Dark Roasted Beans
  • Fresh Beans

Cons

Smoked Coffee Beans: Pecan and Cherry Smoked Coffee

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4.2 out of 5 • Buy it for $15 at Amazon

Smoked Coffee Beans: Pecan and Cherry Smoked CoffeeSmoked Coffee Beans: Pecan and Cherry Smoked Coffee

Features

The Texian Army Brew is fire roasted using pecan wood and finished with a cherry wood cold smoke. It is roasted almost daily in small batches for a fresh, cowboy coffee style. Small batch, fire roasted with a pecan and cherry wood smoked flavor. It comes in 10 ounce bags.

Pros

  • Fire roasted
  • Pecan and cherry wood smoked
  • 10 ounce bags
  • Developed for drip brewing

Cons

Whiskey Morning Coffee: Fire Roasted

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4.1 out of 5 • Buy it for $20 at Amazon

Whiskey Morning Coffee: Fire RoastedWhiskey Morning Coffee: Fire Roasted

Features

Whiskey Morning Coffee is a small batch coffee roaster located in Tolar, Texas. WMC Barrel Aged Coffee is aged in fresh whiskey and bourbon barrels and comes in 10 ounce bags. Small batch, barrel aged and natural whiskey infused. It comes in 10 ounce bags.

Pros

  • Fresh coffee
  • Natural whiskey infused coffee
  • Barrel aged
  • 10 ounce bags

Cons

What is Fire Roasted Coffee?

Fire-roasted coffee refers to coffee that has been traditionally prepared using direct fire roasting methods. This century-old technique involves the roasting of coffee beans over an open flame. This, in turn, creates a unique coffee flavor profile and aroma that you cannot replicate via other methods. 

Mind you, the fire-roasting process doesn't brew the beans. Instead, it simply transforms fresh green coffee beans into roasted ones before you can brew them using the method you want. Fire-roasting coffee is not a new concept. In fact, this method is the very first recorded method of preparing coffee before serving.

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Coffee Roasting Before 

While coffee is believed to originate from Ethiopia, dating back as early as 800 A.D, the first specialized coffee roasters were recorded in a completely different part of the world around the 1400s. 

In Ethiopia, coffee was typically served unroasted with its fresh and dried mature fruit pureed using a stone mortar and pestle before being crafted into cakes.  Over time, the whole coffee cherry would be roasted over an open flame fire in earth or stoneware. 

The very first specialized coffee roasting apparatus was recorded in Persia in the 1400s. This apparatus typically features a long handled and large perforated spoon that roasted very little coffee overtime on an open fire pit. As time went by, coffee consumption grew in the Arab world. 

By the 1500s to 1600s, coffee drinkers in Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq, Kuwait, Turkey, and Syria) used shallow pans with long handles and leg rests over an open flame fire to roast coffee. 

Over time, other more advanced apparatus were designed and employed, including the roasting pan with a tight-fitting lid and bean mixing top hand crank, developed in Egypt. By this time, western countries had picked up on the skill and continued to design variations to use in their own countries and colonies. 

One thing remains clear from the beginning throughout the development and design of these open-flame coffee-roasting apparatus. Craftsmen during the time had a deep understanding of coffee roasting techniques, developing the coffee roasting equipment with various elements in mind. 

These include ensuring the beans enjoyed optimal air circulation and even heating during the process. This explains why many apparatus had perforated designs and handles that allowed for vigorous mixing.

Coffee Roasting Today

Coffee roasting today has long evolved from the simple open-fire roasting apparatus to more modernized equipment that can accommodate the demand for larger quantities. With increased advancements in the sectors, the 17th century saw the introduction of roasting drums to deal with larger coffee bean quantities.

This allowed roasters to cut down on the open flames for lower and safer flames as the drums retained heat for longer. By the 19th century, after the industrial revolution, many factories began to design and produce industrial-style roasters, further decreasing the amount of fire-roasting equipment on the market.  

Why Is Coffee Fire Roasting Still Used Today?

Coffee fire roasting is still popular today, thanks to the unique flavor and aroma it achieves. Fire roasting is also popular among outdoorists and nature lovers – whether campers, hikers, mountaineers, or people that love to spend time outdoors. 

Next time, when you are in the woods bird watching or fishing, whip up your own cup of freshly fire-roasted coffee to experience nature the right way!

Coffee roasting has certainly evolved from the smaller scale, open fire roasting technique to more modern automated or large scale roasting methods. While skill is still essential for proper roasting today, the methods don’t compare to the old ones.  This explains why fire roasting remains a novelty perfected by a few with its beans loved by many coffee drinkers. 

As previously mentioned, the use of open flame fire to roast coffee began to significantly diminish in the 17th century. The introduction of more modernized equipment after the industrial revolution in the 18th to 19th century led to the use of these modern coffee roasters more than the traditional ones. 

By the 20th and 21st centuries, manufacturers introduced even better and more efficient electrical commercial and home-use roasters. This doesn't mean that fire-roasting coffee was a completely obliterated practice. 

Fire roasting continues to be popular among coffee lovers and connoisseurs today. This is because the introduction of more modern coffee roasters significantly altered the coffee-drinking experience. With modern, non-open flame machines, the roasted coffee developed a cleaner flavor profile with zero smokiness or fire characteristics.  

This is because the industrial revolution coincided with the increased use of gas, leading to many people ditching the use of wood or coal. Roasting coffee from gas-operated roasters yielded a completely different flavor and aroma profile to what you’d get from roasting the coffee over coal or wood. 

Today, fire-roasted coffee is favored for its unique smoky flavor profile and aroma and its simplicity. Direct fire roasting doesn’t require electricity or conventional gas. It is a natural process that uses any type of wood or charcoal. 

But, the best part is that it takes up some of the characteristics of the fuel you use to contribute to its flavor and aroma profile. This means that you can influence the characteristics you want based on the type of wood you choose.  

Popular coffee roasters, like Mr. Espresso, set themselves apart from other commercial coffee fire roasters based on the fuel type they use. Mr. Espresso exclusively roasts their coffee beans over a fire by fueling it with oak wood.  

According to the brand, oak wood boasts just the right moisture content to make it perfect for slow roasting. On the other hand, slow roasting allows for better coffee bean oil preservation. 

It also allows for the wood to effectively impart its flavor and smokiness onto the beans. This, in turn, produces the most delicious beans with minimal acidity, perfect crema, full flavors, and the smoothest finish. According to Mr. Espresso, wood fire roasting also allows the coffee roaster to achieve 100% consistency throughout its roasted coffee. 

One coffee bean on fire

The Roasting Process

Fire-roasting coffee beans is a pretty straightforward process. The roasting begins with green coffee sourced from the farm or bought from a supplier. As you would with conventional roasting practices, you begin by sorting defective beans. 

The beans are then transferred into the roasting apparatus. This can be anything from your camping casting iron pot with a handle to a special roasting pan or drum roaster. You can use any type of fuel (such as coal or wood) to fire up the open flame and roast the beans over the flame. 

As the pan is heated, the beans begin to release moisture (you will notice visible steam and hear a sizzling sound). Start to consistently shake the beans to ensure even roasting.  Within a few minutes, the beans will begin to brown and release their aromatic compounds to form unique flavors and aromas.

Just like regular coffee roasting, you want to keep your ears out for the crack of the beans to ensure you achieve the roast level you want. Fire roaster enthusiasts can set up campfire pits or purchase them, use charcoal or wood stoves, or even build or commission the building of a wood-fired coffee roaster. 

Some coffee lovers prefer to indulge in the fire-roasting endeavor. But, if the skill is too demanding for you, you can find a long list of coffee roasters that specialize in this type of coffee and purchase yours.

Fire-Roasted Coffee Flavor and Aroma

Due to the smoky nature of open-fire flames, fire-roasted coffee achieves a one-of-a-kind smokier flavor and aroma. While it achieves the natural characteristics of the beans, the choice of fuel used also imparts its flavors onto the coffee. Now, the latter is what makes fire roasted coffee unique. 

Fire-roasted coffee beans will typically yield a sweeter cup of coffee with a mellower and well-rounded mouth feel with minimal acidity. You will also enjoy a smoother finish and more inviting crema. Fire-roasted coffee is usually slow-roasted, allowing the beans to retain their natural oils and lock in the best flavors. 

Moreover, the roasting style allows the coffee beans to achieve a darker shade. Additionally, fire-roasting coffee beans let you customize the roast level based on your individual preferences. Generally, lighter roasted beans achieve a milder flavor profile with increased acidity and fruitiness. 

Medium roasts begin to enjoy more roundness to the body with some nutty undertones. Dark roasted beans tend to have a bolder flavor profile with optimal smokiness and some bitterness. 

On the other hand, conventional roasted coffee has a cleaner flavor without any depth to its undertones. Again, a certain level of skill is needed to extract the best flavors and aroma and ensure fine-tuned fuel flavor imparting on the beans. 

Coffee beans on fire

Health Benefits of Fire-Roasted Coffee

As pointed out earlier, the slow-roasting nature of the fire-roasting method allows coffee beans to lock in most of their natural oils. This, in turn, allows the coffee to entrap most of its active compounds that carry its benefits, too. 

So, you are more likely to enjoy the optimal health benefits of the bean from fire-roasted coffee than conventionally roasted coffee. Like conventional coffee, fire-roasted coffee is also rich in antioxidants and of course, it dishes out your daily dose of caffeine. 

Fire-Roasted Coffee Availability and Accessibility

With the right skill, you can make fire-roasted coffee by yourself. All you need is a pan with a long handle (a cast iron pan is ideal due to its heat-retaining nature), green coffee beans of your choice, and an open flame source (with wood or charcoal fuel).  In fact, fire roasting can be a fun prep experience, whether done in your backyard or at the campsite.

However, if you feel like you can't achieve the best flavors, you can always purchase freshly fire-roasted coffee beans. Unlike regular roasted coffee, fire-roasted coffee isn't very common. 

But, you can still find a wide variety of coffee roaster brands online and in a few select physical stores. Due to the skill and level of attention needed to fire-roast coffee, this type of coffee tends to cost a little bit more than regular roasted coffee.

Conclusion

When it comes to the debate of whether or not fire-roasted coffee is better than regular coffee, the response is subjective. Every coffee drinker has their own flavor and aroma preference. Nonetheless, this superior coffee roasting technique, dating back more than a millennium, is worth the try. 

Whether you purchase your coffee or prepare it yourself, it's certainly worth experiencing the unique smoky, and flavorful elements of fire-roasted coffee. Try it out on your next camping trip or backyard hang out with friends on a chilly evening to truly connect with nature.

Meet the expert

Donaldina is a coffee lover and freelance writer from Tanzania. Coffee runs deep in her family - tracing its roots to her grandmother’s running of their first coffee farm in the mid-70s. She enjoys spending her time writing and co-running her grandmother's small robusta coffee farm with her sister in northwest Tanzania during the summer seasons.

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