The Beginner’s Guide to Home Coffee Roasting

Beginners Guide to Home Coffee Roasting

Would you be interested in finding coffee that’s significantly better than what you’re drinking now, and for half the price?  If so, home coffee roasting is for you!

While the prospect of home roasting coffee can seem intimidating, in reality it’s simple!  Roasting coffee is just like cooking anything else in your kitchen, and doesn't the food you prepare at home taste infinitely better than pre-packaged, store-bought meals?  The same is true for roasted coffee! 

With quality ingredients and a little practice you’ll be roasting coffee that tastes better than anything you have every purchased, and for a fraction of the cost!

Step 1: Choose a Home Roasting Method

While specialty home-roasters are available from $150 to over $1000, you can make great coffee in your oven, in a skillet, or even using a popcorn popper!  For a complete guide to choosing a home roasting technique, check out our assessment of the Top-6 Home Roasting Methods. 

Step 2: Purchase Green Coffee Beans

For new home-roasters I recommend searching for a local specialty coffee store in your area.  They will be able to steer you toward a specific regional bean that suits your tastes.  Be sure to buy “Grade 1, Specialty Grade” beans.  These are the highest quality beans available to home roasters, but they are still significantly less expensive than roasted standard-grade beans.

If you don’t want to bother with finding a local store, Amazon.com has a great variety of green coffee at fairly reasonable prices.  Don’t’ be afraid to buy a little extra, because unlike roasted coffee that quickly goes stale, green beans can stay in your pantry for months.

 Step 3: Start Roasting!

This video demonstrates just how easy home roasting can be by showing green beans roasting from start to finish in one continuous shot.

As you can see, roasting amazing beans is no more complicated than combining heat with steady stirring!

 

When to Remove the Beans, and what's that "popping" sound?

Whatever your chosen roasting method, we recommend home roasters begin with a "City" or "Full City" medium roast.  Medium roasts offer a great balance between the beans' origin flavor and the roast flavor.  Additionally, keeping your first roast to medium will reduce the risk of burning the beans during your first attempts.

To achieve a medium roast, bean color is certainly a good indicator, but a better gauge of the chemical development in the beans, home roasters should listen for a popping sounds known as the "first and second cracks"

Knowing when your coffee beans are ready is no different than gauging when microwave popcorn is ready

The first crack occurs when the beans reach 385° F, with second crack beginning when the beans reach 435° F.   Medium Roasts are the stages in between the first and second crack.

This is the one stage of roasting where seconds count and the degree of roast changes quickly.  For first time roasters a good guideline may be to remove the beans from the heat immediately after the first crack is complete.   

Cooling

Move your newly roasted beans to a metal colander and shake or stir gently to promote rapid, even cooling.  Some home roasters use a small fan to accelerate the cooling process, but doing so is not required.  

During this time you should also remove any of the paperlike material (called chaff) that came off of the beans during roasting. 


Storage

For the next couple of days, the newly roasted beans will go through a process called "degassing," during which time they will emit carbon dioxide.  Degassing is why coffee bags often have built-in small one-way valves, to keep oxygen out but allow CO2 to escape.  Without these valves the freshly packed coffee bags might explode from the building air pressure!

If you don't have a bag with a one-way valve (most people don't), place the roasted beans in a zip-top freezer bag large enough to accommodate a significant amount of air expansion.  Press out all of the air (oxygen=bad for beans), and then seal.  After the degassing is complete, transfer the beans to an airtight container and store at room temperature.

Patience, then the Payoff!

Freshly roasted beans need at least 24 hours for the flavors to fully develop.  Exactly how long varies based on the bean, roast level, and personal preference.  As a simple gauge, allow the beans to finish degassing, then grind, brew, and enjoy the most satisfying cup of coffee you have ever tasted!

We hope this guide helped you on your way to home roasting bliss!  If you have any questions, let us know using our Contact page.  We are always happy to help!

Don't stop now!  There's so much more to learn!