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  • Writer's pictureMike and Glenn

Roasted - not Toasted

Updated: Jul 4

People have been roasting coffee beans since the 15th century.  Commercialization of the practice accelerated in the 19th century as patents were filed in Europe and the United States.  Over 400 million cups of coffee are consumed daily in the US alone. 

Today, we look at the roasting process and its similarities to sobriety. 

Roasting coffee beans uses both time and heat to transform raw green beans into brown or black beans. Three main stages are applied to roasting: drying, browning, and developing properly.

Sobriety takes willingness and time as well to renovate one from damaged to developed. In recovery, three phases are essential to success: abstinence, understanding, and maturation.

Education, effort, and patience are required to transform either endeavor successfully. 

The Drying-out Period

A bean has to be dry, really dry, to have a chance at altering its state and become usable.  We had to reach a breaking point sufficient enough for us to be humbled enough to drag ourselves to the drying table. 

We had to turn our then-current habits into new behaviors consistent with our desire to transmute to a state we found acceptable.  We had to identify with a new identity.  We had to quit putting liquids in to get value out.  We had to put the plug in the jug.

Beans dry in an environment with temperatures between 320°F and 392°F. The bean begins to expand and crack while the water is slowly released. The process takes about eight minutes. 

The drying-out period for humans varies, but the process is the same: We change our environment to one where alcohol is not present.  We set the heat up, allow ourselves to expand, and take on a new form, a non-drinker. 

This is only the beginning, as we are not yet as valuable as we will become.  We need to do more than be dry.  We owe it to ourselves to continue to strive to be the best bean in the bag.

The Browning Period

With the heat turned up to 392°F and above, the bean begins its chemical reaction, browning as sugars caramelize.  The roaster pays close attention during this phase as the product will be defined in the detail.  Unique flavoring profiles will take hold as the colors turn bold.

We, too, had to turn the heat up, retching up our commitment to recovery.  We had to surrender to the burner.  We had to accept that the process would turn us into a better product. 

Alcoholics Anonymous has written a method of roasting that has stood the test of time.  The instructions are as clear as they are concise. 

This understanding that there IS a solution, a recipe to reconstruct, is the saving step we needed as raw beans. We needed hope and a framework from which to work. We needed to learn from the roasters who went before us, to learn where the burn would happen, and to accept their knowledge unconditionally.

The Developing Period

Development is the time between the first crack and the end of the roast.  This is what the master roaster lives for. This maturity is what produces purity and, ultimately, pleasure.

Transformation takes the pain of change and a strong degree of endurance.  If we are to re-invent, we must pay close attention to the chemical makeup of our new selves.  If we are to become the us we desire, we must stay under the heat for as long as it takes. 

Each degree, each second, defines the final product.  Each change, each day, defines the final us. 

As beans are transformed from their green, grassy, raw, and bitter states into brown, aromatic, and complex fragrances of awesomeness, we, too, have been transformed from self-centered, self-destructing souls to the wholeness of all that is potential and purposeful.   Pleasure is indeed the result of the process.


Transformation is available to all. It starts with a rawness and willingness to undergo periods of education and effort, an openness to take on phases of change and pain, and the patience to let time do its magic.


Today, we are happily roasted – not toasted!


Thoughts and ideas for this blog post were taken and built upon from podcast episode #171  titled “You have to give it away" - featuring Boiled Owl Coffee”      The session dropped 7/3/2024.  Click here to hear the podcast. 


Photo by Ben Moreland on Unsplash



Alcoholics Anonymous and AA are registered trademarks of Alcoholics World Service. Inc. References to AA, the 12 steps, and 12 traditions does not mean that AA has reviewed or approved the contents of this publication nor that AA agrees with the views expressed herein. This publication is intended to support personal growth and should not be considered a substitute for healthcare professionals' advice. The author’s advice and viewpoints are their own.


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