When it comes to a good cup of coffee, it’s all about the beans. Now, you can certainly buy a lovely bag of ground coffee or whole beans right from your grocery store. But if you’re interested in perfecting your own signature coffee, you’ll want to roast the beans yourself — and I’m here to show you a few different ways to do it.
But first, let’s look at why coffee beans need to be roasted in the first place. When harvested, coffee beans aren’t the hard, dry chocolate-brown little nuggets you’re used to seeing. Rather, the coffee plant produces a fruit whose pulp is removed to reveal a green bean, which is then dried. The roasting process releases the natural flavors within that bean by transforming the sugars within. Through something called a Malliard reaction, the beans turn brown, resulting in the sort of bean appearance we all know and love. If you’ve ever seen terms like “Light,” “Medium” or “Dark” roast, they all refer to the length of time and temperature at which the beans have been roasted.
Here are some great at-home methods for how to roast coffee beans
If you are dedicated to roasting coffee beans at home regularly, one of the best options for you may be to invest in a coffee-roasting machine. The FreshRoast SR500 Automatic Coffee Bean Roaster ($169) allows you to roast up to 5 ounces of coffee beans at a time to your desired time and temperature. The machine even stops periodically to cool down a little before continuing the roast — a nice safety feature.
Order the FreshRoast SR500 Automatic Coffee Bean Roaster from The Coffee Project.
Let’s say you’re just interested in trying your hand at some at-home techniques that are more suited for DIY types. Here is another idea.
Mark Prince over at CoffeeGeek writes about a method using a hot air popcorn popper, such as the Kitchen Gourmet Popcorn Maker (it’s important that it have interior side vents to promote air circulation). For this method, you’ll also need a mesh colander, large bowl, oven mitts and — of course — green coffee.
First, you’ll plug in the popcorn maker to heat it up, then add in your green coffee beans. For the first few minutes, stir the contents with a wooden spoon, then put the lid on. The lid will direct the coffee chaff into the bowl. After 4 minutes or so, you will hear a crackling sound. This is referred to as the “first crack,” or the moment when the coffee beans splits slightly. According to Prince, this marks the coffee reaching light roast stage. If you’d like, you can stop roasting here.
If you prefer a darker roast, however, you can keep the machine running for another two to three minutes. At about 5 to 6 minutes in, you’ll hear the “second crack,” meaning the beans have reached medium roast. Using this method, achieving a dark roast should only take about 7 to 8 minutes total, although it’s probably better to stick to a lighter stage when roasting this way.
To remove your newly roasted coffee beans, take off the popcorn popper lid and dump them into your mesh colander (wear your oven mitts for this step, it’ll be hot). Next, you’ll want to aerate your coffee beans and rub off any additional chaff. If you can go outside, do so, and shake the colander from side to side. If you can’t, just do this over an open trash can. Wait for the beans to cool, then grind and brew!
How do you roast your own coffee at home?