Did You Know You Can Roast Your Own Coffee?
Roasting coffee doesn't take special equipment. It does, however, take time and patience to roast it well. Let's take a look!
Did you know you can roast your own coffee beans at home? Roasting coffee doesn't take special equipment. Unless you want to use special equipment, that is. You just need something to hold the beans and a heat source. And some green coffee beans, of course.
Options for Heat
Heat sources can range from the stovetop to the oven to an open fire in the backyard. These methods all require you to pay extremely close attention to roasting. You will also have to manually stir the beans to ensure they roast evenly and don't burn.
Another option is a popular kitchen appliance you might have hanging around in your cupboard. An air popcorn popper! These are surprisingly fitting for this task. Just know that if you will want to dedicate that popper only to roasting coffee.
Finally, if you want to spend the extra money and have a dedicated roasting tool, there are home roasters you can purchase. These range from around $80 to $650 and have varying features for roasting your coffee. All of them can stir the coffee beans while roasting at the least. Many also have the option to be set to your roast level, making the process simpler.
Options for Vessels
You'll need some kind of vessel to hold the beans while they roast. For the stovetop, a simple skillet with a lid will work just fine. If you have an old stovetop popcorn popper, that could be used just as well. The bonus in using the popcorn popper is the handle for stirring the beans. If you are using the oven, a cookie sheet is your best bet. And over the fire? Whatever you typically cook with. Your camp pans will work just fine.
A few extra tools that might be helpful for roasting your own beans are:
- metal colander to cool the beans
- a perforated pan to allow for airflow around every side of the beans
- a baking rack with a tiny grid to allow air around every side of the beans
- a metal vegetable steamer so air can move around every side of the beans while oven roasting
- a wooden spoon to stir the beans as they are roasting (if you aren't using the baking rack or vegetable steamer)
- a vessel to store the beans that allows CO2 to escape
- a timer
- an infrared thermometer
How to Roast
To roast your green coffee, you will need to know what level of roast you want, how long to roast it, and at what temperature.
If you are planning on stovetop roasting, you should turn your burner to medium. Place your pan (a skillet or saucepan with do) on the burner and, once the pan is heated, pour in your beans. You should start with about 5-6 ounces of green beans. Cover the pan and begin shaking it back and forth, similar to how you would with popcorn. After around 5 minutes of shaking the beans over the heat, you should hear the first crack and start to smell the roasted coffee. From this point, you must be careful because the beans will darken quickly. After every minute, check the color of your coffee beans to determine how dark they are getting. Because the beans will continue cooking after you remove them from the heat, you will want to take them off the stove before they get to your desired color or roast level.
To help cool the roasted beans, pour them into a metal colander and shake them to help stop the cooking process. You will see some skin in with the beans. It is the chaff and is normal. As you shake the beans in the colander, the chaff should naturally move to the top layer. You can carefully blow this off and throw it away. Next, store your freshly roasted coffee in a container that will allow the CO2 to escape. This process will take around 24 hours.
Alternative Stovetop Method
Another way to roast your green coffee beans is to do so with a stovetop popcorn popper. These metal contraptions have a handle that you turn to keep the beans moving and ensure an even roast. Follow the same directions as the stovetop and pan method for your popcorn popper roasting.
If you are planning to oven roast your beans, pre-heat your oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit or as high as your oven will go. Place 5-6 ounces of green beans on the perforated pan (or the baking rack or in the open vegetable steamer) and place that on a cookie sheet. Place the cookie sheet on the rack in the middle position in the oven. You will want to shake the pan every minute or two to allow the beans to roast evenly. Like on the stovetop, after about 5 minutes, you should hear the first crack. At this point, you will want to check the beans every minute to determine the level of the color of the roast. Also, like the stovetop method, be sure to remove the beans before they get to your preferred color as they will keep cooking. Move your roasted beans to a metal colander and shake them to cool them off. This will also move the chaff to the top of the beans where you can easily remove it. Store your freshly roasted coffee in a container with a valve to allow the CO2 gasses to escape. After 24 hours you can try your hand-roasted coffee.
So, this will likely be your least-used method, but we'll talk about it anyway. You will need to build a fire that you can cook over. Preferably with a rack that you can rest your pan over the flame. You will also want a large pan. A large wok might be your best bet. Place your pan over the flames and, once it is at temperature, add your 5-6 ounces of green beans. Shake the pan back and forth to agitate the beans in order to roast them evenly. After about 5 minutes, you should hear the first crack. Keep shaking the pan back and forth as the beans roast and remove them just before they are the roast level you prefer. Again, move them to a colander to cool and remove the chaff. Store the beans in a vented container to allow the CO2 to gas off.
One of the easiest ways you'll find to roast coffee beans at home is with an old air popcorn popper. Turn on your popper and let it warm up. Add your green coffee beans. Because the space in the popper is so small start with 3-4 ounces of beans. Leave the top off so you can access the beans. For the first few minutes, you will like have to agitate the beans yourself. As they roast and the water evaporates, they will get lighter and will move on their own. You can use the handle of a wooden spoon or a butter knife to get the beans moving. After around 2-3 minutes, you will start to hear the first crack. This is much sooner than the other methods of roasting, so be ready! Just like the other methods, be sure to remove the beans from the heat just before they are your preferred roast level and color. Place them in a colander to cool.
A tip: Use the air popper method outside as the blowing air will make the chaff go everywhere.
If you are unsure about the "cracks" and whether or not you are hearing them correctly, you might want to use the infrared thermometer to gauge the roasting process. Here are the temperatures for the different roast levels. Remember to stop roasting just before you hit your preferred roast level.
- Light Roast - 380 - 400 degrees Fahrenheit
- Medium-Light Roast - 400 - 415 degrees Fahrenheit
- Medium Roast - 415 - 435 degrees Fahrenheit
- Medium-Dark Roast - 435 - 445 degrees Fahrenheit
- Dark Roast - 445 - 460 degrees Fahrenheit
- Very Dark Roast - 460 - 480 degrees Fahrenheit
Anything above 480 degrees Fahrenheit is burned and would not taste good.
Which Beans Should You Choose?
If you would like to try your hand at roasting your own coffee, CoffeeAM has several green beans you can purchase. These are all the same beans that we roast fresh to order for you daily. You can get your favorite green coffee beans and see how well you fare at roasting at home. Head over to our Green Coffee page to see what's available and let us know how your roasting goes!