Home roasting persisted in Mediterranean countries like Italy until well after World War II, and many drinkers in the Middle East and the horn of Africa still roast their own coffee as part of leisurely ritual combining roasting, brewing and dinking in one long sitting.
According to the legend, Muslim Sheikh Omar who was exiled to an infertile region of Arabia in about 1260 and according to one version of his legend discovered the benefits of roasted coffee while trying to avoid starvation by making a soup of coffee seeds. Finding them bitter, he roasted them before boiling them.
According to coffee expert Ian Bersten, he speculates that Syria is the likely location of the first truly roasted coffee, since Syrians, particularly in the city of Damascus, had developed the technology necessary to produce metal cookware.
At the early point in coffee history, probably before 1600, a somewhat different approach to coffee roasting and cuisine developed in Turkey, Syria and Egypt. The beans were brought to a very dark, almost black color, ground to a very fine powder, using either a millstone or a grinder with metal burns, and boiled and served with sugar.
Although Europeans traditionally imported the highest quality beams, American drank the most coffee per capita. Industrial coffee roasting began in the 1860s.
In the mid-nineteenth century, cylindrical, round and boxy coffee roasters came on the market in large numbers equipped with methods of agitating the beans to assure an even roast. In 1849, the inventor Thomas R. Wood of Cincinnati, Ohio, patented a hinged globe mounted on a three-legged frame with a bail for rotating beans as they heated on a hearth or stove.
The first successful commercial coffee roaster was invented in 1864 by Jabez Burns, who came to New York from London in 1845 and found employment with coffee and spice merchants. Burns devised a screw-like device to keep the beans moving as they roasted.
Continuous roasters are now frequently used by large-volume roasters. Reflectance-color meters are now used almost universally to characterize roast completeness and character.
History of coffee roasting