Everything You Need to Know About Sumiyaki Coffee (Charcoal Roasted Coffee)

When it comes to food, one of the most popular to have your food cooked is through grilling or roasting. One would always crave grilled meat or roasted chicken. Roasting is important for coffee lovers because the method, intensity of heat, and length of time to roast coffee beans determine the coffee's aroma and taste. Now to settle things first, there are two ways to roast coffee beans. The first one is roasting through hot air that produces a lighter coffee than the other method. The second method is roasting through the direct fire, which can be produced either by gas or by charcoal. This roasting through direct fire produces a stronger coffee.

japanese coffee

What is Sumiyaki?

Sumiyaki means "charcoal-heated" or "charcoal-grilled" in Japanese. That is why the term is also associated with charcoal-grilled meats such as yakitori and yakiniku. Imagine a slice of meat being cooked over a pan-fired using gas versus a griller using charcoal, which is more enticing and flavorful?

Charcoal-grilled coffee?

Here comes sumiyaki coffee, a charcoal heated brewed coffee that releases a distinctive aroma using a halogen heater to create a vacuum through the filter to release the boiled water through the ground coffee, giving it a roasted aroma and a smokey taste. Some would even attest that mixing milk in sumiyaki coffee gives an exquisite blend on it and will not lose its taste. The beans are also roasted until they are charcoal hued. This is slightly bitter in taste compared to other brewed coffee due to the use of charcoal and the beans being roasted. The characteristic of coffee beans is that they are fluffy and evenly cooked from the center of the beans due to the effect of far-infrared rays generated by a charcoal fire. The method itself of roasting the beans is already unique since the usual way is through fire from gas.

Charcoal is the best tool to roast coffee beans. Although the heat being produced by charcoal is smaller than the heat being produced by gas, the infrared in the heat produced by charcoal is large, making the coffee beans cooked evenly from the surface to the inside. With the small amount of heat being produced by charcoal, the roasting takes a lot of time, but this makes sure that it does not destroy the coffee beans' cell structure. This is usually what happens to coffee beans being roasted in heat produced by gas. When the cell structures of coffee beans happen, the unpleasant taste of coffee would likely to occur.

Taste that Aroma

The smoky aroma of the coffee on the hand is caused by the smell of burnt charcoal. It is well known that coffee beans are great odor absorbers. That is why they are used as scent neutralizer whenever you want to smell different perfume fragrances. The coffee beans absorb the burnt charcoal's smell, which gives the smoky aroma of the sumiyaki coffee. The charcoal-grilled coffee also does not contain water, which is in the case of coffee beans roasted in gas burners.

The charcoal-roasting of coffee beans also makes sumiyaki coffee longer to expire. Unlike gas-producing heat, charcoal emits carbon monoxide that delays the oxidation in coffee beans. The retention of oxidation in the beans gives the sumiyaki coffee longer expiration.

What Charcoal to Use?

An important matter too is not just the expertise of the griller but also the type of charcoal that is being used, like the kishu binchu or bincho charcoal, which is white in color when manufactured and said to be introduced by Kobo Daishi Kukai from China to Kishu and Akizugawa, Tanabe City, Wakayama Prefecture. The main charcoal material is Ubamegashi, which is a wood that is hard enough to scratch glass. When charcoals strike each other, they create a metallic sound. During the Edo period and the Genroku era (1680 to 1709),  these charcoals were shipped to Edo and were prized as high-quality fuel for urban life.

coffee roasting using charcoal

Bincho charcoal is said to be one of the highest qualities of charcoal for cooking. The name of Bincho charcoal or "Binchotan" came from the fact that Kinokuniya Tanabe merchant Binchuya Chozaemon made charcoal from horse oak and started selling it.  This is perfect for coffee roasting since it creates a fire that is overwhelmingly stronger than gas burners and does not generate steam, so the coffee beans are essentially baked. The carbon quality is hard, and it is difficult to ignite. Coffee roaster experts have to control the firepower's temperature at about 500 degrees. They can be raised to 1000 degrees by fanning it with a fan. While this charcoal is a little bit expensive, it has two to three times longer burning time than other charcoals.

While charcoal roasting is one of the roasting methods that requires experience because it is difficult to maintain constant thermal power, since using Bincho charcoal has a high calorific value, burning time, and infrared ray amount, it is possible to perform relatively stable roasting.

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About This Blog:

Japanese Coffee Blog is a collection of articles related to the Japanese Coffee and Charcoal Roasted Sumiyaki coffee which is unique roasting only found in Japan. Coffee culture in Japan has evolved isolated from around the world and has much uniqueness not found in the rest of the world.

Authored by popular Japanese Tea Blogger Kei Nishida, he hopes to reveal the wonderful world of Japanese coffee from a different angle to educate and entertain people who love Japan, Japanese Tea, and now Japanese Coffee.

Author: Kei Nishida

Kei Nishida

Kei Nishida is a writer, a Japanese Green Tea and Coffee enthusiast, and the founder and CEO of Japanese Green Tea Company and Japanese Coffee Company.

His popular Japanese Green Tea and Health Blog has been the go-to place for anything related to Japanese tea.

He is an author of multiple books, and you can find his work in multiple publications and magazines.

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