There are few better ways to start the day than with a piping-hot cup of coffee. The ritual, the aroma, and the taste make leaving the cozy confines of your bed manageable (almost). By roasting coffee beans at home, you can make sure that each batch comes out just the way you like it. Saving money is an added perk.
Don’t let the big, loud roasting machines you may have seen in local coffee shops fool you. Roasting your own coffee is deceptively simple and entirely addictive. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll be impressing your fellow java junkies with your newfound skills. Here’s how to get started.
A cup of coffee is only as good as the beans it’s made from. Different beans hail from all corners of the globe, offering a variety of flavors that are as nuanced as a glass of finely aged wine.
Start small by picking up a four-pound sample pack of unroasted beans. They should be green in color. Take advantage of online suppliers that focus exclusively on home-roasting customers. They spend the time to carefully select beans that will respond well to your techniques and yield tasty results.
When you’re roasting coffee beans, it’s important not to overload the roaster. Crowding the roaster with too many beans results in an uneven roast and an unsatisfying cup of coffee.
To ensure that you keep things moving around nicely, always weigh your beans on a scale before turning up the heat. A regular kitchen scale with a digital display and a built-in bowl is optimal for the task at hand.
Before firing up the roaster, measure out approximately four ounces of green coffee beans. Through experimentation, you may find that a couple more or fewer ounces better suits your needs, but this is a great place to start.
Behold, the most important part of the process—besides the beans, of course. The roaster is what’s going to take those little green beans and transform them into full-bodied, flavor-packed powerhouses. Veteran home roasters often swear by hot air popcorn poppers, claiming that the design is perfect for ensuring an even roast and allows for constant supervision, which is critical when it comes to avoiding scorched beans.
To start the process of roasting your beans, simply plug in your air popper and pour in the beans that you’ve measured out.
Throughout the roasting process, you’ll need to check your beans and occasionally extract samples from the bunch for inspection. There’s no need to get anything fancy; just a plain wooden spoon is fine.
As soon as your beans hit the roaster, you’ll need to start stirring. Keeping the beans moving makes for an even roast.
Next, the magic happens. First, you’ll notice some steam and hear a loud popping noise. This is called the “first crack.” Some consider the roast complete at this point, but others like to keep their beans over heat until they caramelize.
At this point, you can stop or keep roasting until the second crack takes place. After the second crack, you have a short window of time before the sugars on the beans burn off completely and you’re left with a charred mess. Trial and error will help you find the sweet spot that yields the perfect cup.
Once you’ve roasted your beans to perfection, you’re going to need a place to cool them. Enter the cooling pan.
A colander or wide cookie sheet should do the trick. Because you’re going to be dealing with a large quantity of piping-hot coffee beans, make sure that whichever cooling pan or bowl you choose is made of metal or aluminum to avoid burning and/or melting.
The trick to achieving a perfect roast is to pull the beans away from the heat quickly by pouring them into your colander or onto your pan.
After your freshly roasted beans have cooled for at least four hours, you’re ready to store them. Look for a container that closes loosely, like a simple tin. To avoid staleness, it’s best to consume your coffee within seven days of roasting.
Once you get the hang of it, you’ll want to roast all the time!
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