Shiny coffee beans?

Joined Apr 19, 2001
Does anyone know why some coffee beans seem to have a 'sheen' to them, and some are just the natural, sort of dull finish? I notice this particularly with some of the 'gourmet' beans; not the flavored ones, but the different roasts; some will have a shine, and some don't. Are they being treated with some sort of flavor coating? Or am i just nuts, and need to get my glasses changed! :D
Joined Mar 13, 2001
No, you're not nuts and your glasses are fine, Marm. It has to do with roasting process and varietal of beans. Here's an example:

American Roast
(medium brown, surface of bean is dry)-- your Fresh Roast will produce this roast during the first crackle.

Viennese Roast
(dark brown, ends of beans will be shiny)-- this style of roast will occur as soon as the second crackle begins.

Espresso Roast
(very dark brown, entire bean is shiny)-- when the first sight of smoke appears from the top of the roaster, you are at an Espresso roast.

French Roast
(bean is almost black, with an oily surface)-you will definitely produce smoke and hear a very rapid crackle.

Great for light expresso or as an after dinner coffee. Excellent coffee for blending.
Other dark roasts are Sumatra Mandheling, Mocha Java Harrar, Hatian Bleu

Now what's first crack and second crack (or crackle), you might ask?

It has to do with the roasting process.

"First Crack" or light roast: occurs when the green beans first start turning a light brown colour and begin to expand from the roasters heat. You will hear them pop just like pop corn.

"First Oil" or medium dark: after the beans have finished their popping, they will begin turning a darker brown, as they roast the oil inside starts to come to the surface of the bean, and you will notice tiny droplets of oil appearing on their surfaces. This is "First Oil" or medium dark or a host of other names.

"Dark" or dark roast or second crack: once the oil inside the beans starts coming to the surface it continues and the beans become increasingly shiny and darker brown, even quite black and glossy. They will snap crackle and pop once again at this stage, you may or may not be able to hear them, varieties differ in sound, some mild to others being very noisy.

*As a beginner when the beans turn shiny or glossy, its time to stop the roast; press cool! With more practice you will be able to identify "just before second crack, during and after second crack". Shortly after second crack the beans will turn to charcoal, eat one, if they taste burnt they probably are.
Joined Aug 4, 2000
I've been a Peet's customer for over 25 years and all of their beans are shiny - for one reason: Peet's roasts all of their beans and the oils that they exude give a sheen to the bean.
Joined Apr 19, 2001
Thanks, Kimmie and Kokopuffs - I was beginning to think that maybe I was being ripped off by some additive put on the surface of the beans for more flavor!
Joined Aug 29, 2000
I find the same is true of Alterra, Kokopuffs. Their motto is "We Roast Strong Coffee", and all of their blends are dark-roasted fresh daily. They seem to me to hold their freshness longer than the duller beans.

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