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Coffee Roasting

Many people drink coffee on a regular basis every day and learn to enjoy the different blends and types of coffee. Once you start getting serious about coffee, a terrific hobby is to start roasting your own coffee at home.
Below is a terrific introductory article where you can learn the basics and how to get started. You can help grow our learning community by contributing your knowledge to the article. Just click on the edit tab in the wiki article below.

Use the white subtabs above to navigate the other coffee roasting resources. We have a coffee roasting forum where you can get your questions & doubts answered, a page with coffee roasting how-to videos, a page with the best handpicked links to other sites, and a page with the best coffee roasting books and products.

Good Luck and Have Fun!
Duncan Davis

Why Roast Coffee at Home?

Aside from the money, home roasted coffee just tastes better! Coffee flavor peaks 12-24 hours after roasting, and coffee beans can lose about 40% of their flavor within two weeks. How long do you think those prepackaged bags of roasted beans have been sitting on the coffeeshop shelf? The only way to be assured that you’re drinking the freshest cup of coffee possible is to roast it yourself.

It couldn’t be easier to get started roasting your own coffee at home. In fact, aside from some green coffee beans, you probably already have everything you need to get started.

Although many home roasters use specialized home coffee roasting machines, coffee beans can be roasted in a pan on the stovetop, on a baking sheet in the oven, or even using a popcorn air popper.

Coffee Preparation Process

Before you can drink and enjoy your coffee, there are several steps that go into its preparation. First the coffee beans get processed, second the processed coffee beans will get roasted, third the roasted coffee beans will be grinded (to ensure that the brew is optimal), and last the coffee is brewed and served. For Coffee enthusiasts it can be a pleasurable hobby to roast, grind, and brew your own coffee at home.

How Coffee Roasting Works

The roasting process influences the taste of the beverage by changing the coffee bean both physically and chemically. The bean decreases in weight as moisture is lost and increases in volume, causing it to become less dense. The density of the bean also influences the strength of the coffee and requirements for packaging.

The actual roasting begins when the temperature inside the bean reaches approximately 200 °C (392 °F), though different varieties of beans differ in moisture and density and therefore roast at different rates. During roasting, caramelization occurs as intense heat breaks down starches in the bean, changing them to simple sugars that begin to brown, changing the color of the bean.

Sucrose is rapidly lost during the roasting process and may disappear entirely in darker roasts. During roasting, aromatic oils and acids weaken, changing the flavor; at 205 °C (401 °F), other oils start to develop. One of these oils is caffeol, created at about 200 °C (392 °F), which is largely responsible for coffee`s aroma and flavor.

Coffee Roasting Process

• Step 1: Get some green coffee beans. There are a number of websites online where you can purchase green coffee beans. See the resources below for some links.
• Step 2: Bring a 12-inch skillet or medium sized saucepan up to around 450-500 degrees Fahrenheit.

• Step 3: Toss in the beans! In a regular 12-inch skillet you probably shouldn’t roast more than 10-12 ounces at once.

• Step 4: Cover the pan with a lid and start shaking it! In order to get an even roast, you need to keep those beans moving around!

• Step 5: Keep shaking the pan!

• Step 6: After about 5 minutes, you’ll probably start to get some smoke. Don’t worry. That’s normal. About this time you’ll start to hear the “first crack”. It sounds sort of like popcorn popping.

• Step 7: remove the lid and check the color of the beans.

• Step 8: Keep shaking the pan, and once the beans reach the color you want, quickly pour them into the metal bowl or colander to cool. It helps to stir them around with a wooden spoon.

• Step 9: Holding the bowl or colander over the sink (or outside- it can get a little messy), gently blow way the chaff (a fine outer skin that separates from the beans during roasting).

• Step 10: Let the beans cool to room temperature, and then pour them into a glass jar or other airtight container. Important: don’t seal the lid until the beans have been allowed to “breathe” for 6-12 hours.

• Step 11: Grind and brew, and be amazed at the taste difference home roasting can make!

How long should I roast the beans?

When your green coffee beans arrive, they will probably be greenish-gray. As you roast them they’ll darken, first yellowing and then browning. Once you reach very dark roasts, oil will start to form on the surface of the beans. Light roasts tend to exhibit more of the “origin flavor” of the beans- those flavors created by the soil, the weather, the way the beans were processed after picking, etc. Dark roasts tend to result in more “roast flavor”- flavors resulting from the roasting process itself.

As a general rule, though, coffees from very desirable regions (like Hawaiian Kona and Jamaican Blue Mountain) tend to be roasted to only light levels. If you’re paying extra for that Kona taste, why roast it to the point where the Kona taste is lost? Similarly, if you’ve got some green coffee beans that you’re not too fond of, a dark roast will help to cover up the flavors you don’t care for.

So what’s the best roast? It’s all a matter of personal taste. Some people prefer light roasts, other people prefer dark roasts. One of the great things about home coffee roasting is that YOU get to pick what combination of bean and roast level you prefer.

Pan Roasting Tips:

• Be prepared for some smoke! Be sure to roast in a well-ventilated area, and you may want to open the windows.

• Don’t leave the pan unattended! Roasting coffee beans involves very high temperatures.

• If your arm gets tired from shaking the pan, you can also use a wooden spoon to stir the beans. Bear in mind that the roast won’t be as even.

Coffee Roasting Equipment

A simple technique for roasting green coffee beans is to stir them in a skillet or wok over high heat. Coffee can be roasted in the oven provided that they are put only one bean deep in a perforated baking tray. These methods produce coffee beans with a variety of roast levels as it is almost impossible to achieve a consistent roast merely by stirring, however, some people like the resultant melange roast.

This lack of control on stove top roasting has led some home roasters to innovative adaptation of equipment intended for other purposes and fabricating custom equipment. Heat guns (normally used for stripping paint) aimed into metal bowls, home-made steel drums suspended and rotated over outdoor gas grill burners, and modified hot-air popcorn poppers are examples of coffee roasters made from readily available parts. Heat guns and modified hot-air popcorn poppers are the least expensive home roasting equipment. Home bread-making appliances can be modified to roast coffee, too.

There are an increasing number of consumer coffee roasters. They automate the roasting process and avoid the hazards of using equipment not designed for high temperature operation. The main drawbacks with many of the dedicated home roasting appliances are their small 75-to-300-gram (2.6 to 11 oz) capacity, limited roasting control, and often slow cooling abilities.

Some home roasters design and build roasting equipment from scratch making full-sized sample roasters, diminutive commercial-style coffee roasters, or inventing new roasting machines. Others use off-the-shelf materials, found objects, and simpler construction methods. Such machines typically have greater capacity or roasting control than home roasting appliances.