Torrefacto, Suiker Geroosterde Koffee & Sugar-Roasted Coffee

I have often had people speak to me about how their grandmother used to roast coffee on the Aga stove, and that she would use sugar in the roasting process, then add a pinch of salt to the brew.

I could never quite get my head around the act of adding sugar to the roast, except maybe to make a cheap and bitter coffee taste less bad? The addition of a few grains of salt I only recently learned does improve the taste of a flat cup by replenishing lost minerals in bland RO water – the result being the acidity of the coffee is brought back to life. Interesting that, because I have also read that RO water has a very high PH… hmmm…

Recently I spotted a pack of ‘Suiker Geroosterde Koffee’ in a local store, and was immediately intrigued by it. Why would someone revive a traditional method of roasting bad coffee beans in this day & age where good coffee is readily available, and there is really no need to take a few steps backwards in what seems to be a dying tradition? Taking this to the Interwebs, I discovered that it is actually a Spanish traditional drink known as Torrefacto coffee, and seems generally accepted to be of a low grade but quite popular in that country. Some people referred to it as "Terminator coffee"... It is also found in Costa Rica, Singapore and Malaysia. The coffee is sprayed with sugar syrup before roasting to produce a blackened, sugar-glazed bean. According to studies this method of roasting also increases the development of anti-oxidant properties in coffee (see ). I’m wondering if that benefit is negated by the sugar-coating…


I had an opportunity to try a handful of an experiment in Suiker Geroosterde Koffee to taste. The beans were encrusted in a blackened, caramalised sugar coating, and were really hard. I ground them in my biggest, toughest and easiest to clean grinder (just in case) and put it through the espresso machine. I suspect they were under roasted… The result was an unpalatably sour brew that actually helped me in a way. I have never tasted ‘sour’ coffee before, but am aware of the potential of an under-extracted espresso to taste sour. I’ve only ever tasted sour like this when sucking on a lemon!

I couldn’t face another go at this evil brew, but in my reading I have found that apparently when coffee is roasted this way it lowers acidity and increase bitterness. These two traits I normally try and tweak to the exact opposite in my roasting, so it is beyond me why one would want less acidity and more bitterness in their coffee? Why would anyone be willing to pay coffee prices for sugar? To me, coffee is coffee and sugar is sugar. I add just a little if I feel the urge, but I don’t want them mixed beforehand!

One thing I have discovered since that disastrous tasting is that it is usually blended with normally roasted coffee in quantities of between 20% and 50%. So I overdid it a bit, I guess…

If you want to try this at home in your popcorn popper/roaster, here’s an interesting How To:

If you have any experiences in this method of coffee roasting – Suiker Geroosterde or Torrefacto – please feel free to share them with me, positive or negative.

Chris Pefanis

Highland Coffee Roastmaster

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