Roasting Coffee Beans at Home

Coffee lovers will be pleased to know that roasting coffee beans at home is now easier than ever and the results are often as great as the professionals. A variety of home coffee roasting machines are available, but failing that a frying pan or popcorn popper can be utilised. Be sure to start out with ultra clean equipment as nothing spoils the taste of coffee like left over fish oils or butter.

Dark roasts have a little less caffeine than lighter roasts, but they lack the acid taste of the latter. Be sure to start out with quality coffee beans, of course!

The beans will need to heat to between 460F (223C) and 530F (262C), so be prepared for some smoke. That is easily taken care of with a small room fan or stove top exhaust. Besides the smoke there will be a smell, so your first experiments should perhaps be done with the windows open and no one in the house.

Place the beans in the roaster and turn up the heat! (Take care to be ready to temporarily disable those over-sensitive house fire alarms.)

For some coffee roasters, the thermometer is integral, but you may want to have an extra for when it's open, or for those frying pan experiments. Thermometers used in candy making are ideal for this purpose.

During the procedure those green beans will turn yellow and then brown. How brown depends on how dark you like your roast, which is always down to individual taste.

As the coffee beans start to heat up, moisture consisting of both oil and water, will place pressure on the bean surface and you may hear a loud crack when it bursts. No need to be concerned as this is quite normal. Stirring every half a minute or more, you will hear this after four to seven minutes of heating.

The sugars inside will start to caramelize (turn brown and 'burn' slightly) as the roasting continues. Again the degree is a matter of taste. Check the color every 30 seconds or so.

Roast long enough and sometimes a second loud crack will occur. At this step the beans will be quite dark and for some palates a little overdone. Besides the second crack you are really just burning the beans and boiling away the sugars. The results will be too harsh for the majority.

Pour the roasted beans into a metal colander to cool, then agitate. Since the roasting procedure produces chaff (a fine skin that detaches from the bean as they are agitated), you will want some method for removing it. Mesh cooking screens are ideal for this purpose.

Try a few batches with various degrees of time or darkening, in order to get the flavor you like. Have in mind that the heat trapped in the bean will continue to cook it for a short time, so try stopping a little short of your desired goal.

For the popcorn popper style home coffee roasting, be sure to get one that allows you to stir up the beans to keep them moving about and not sticking to the surfaces. For the stove top style, a cast iron pan or skillet works great. Be ready for lots of stirring and viewing as the roasting happens quickly.