Want to take charge of every step in your coffee brewing process? Then you may have to begin roasting coffee at home.
It not only allows you all the flexibility to determine what goes into your drink but also accords you the chance to enjoy your favorite brand at its freshest and most fulfilling flavorful experience.
Why always wish local stores offered greater varieties of your favorite darker or lighter coffee blends when you can easily do it yourself?
Here is what you gain roasting coffee at home
Other than the flexibility it comes with, home roasting coffee also ensures you will always have fresh java on hand when you need it.
In as much as most of the green beans can keep well up to a year without going bad, the roasted ones quickly lose their aroma and flavor after just a few weeks. Therefore, buying them green and roasting when in need ensures fresh coffee every time you feel like it.
Plus, it saves you a lot when you buy the beans green since the roasted ones tend to be quite expensive.
If you’re a die-hard coffee fan, then you may want to sharpen your coffee making skills and knowledge—and there is no better way to do that than the hands-on approach.
You will begin to understand the various roast levels. Hence, you will feel more confident about how to control your desired flavor. The roast level plays a great role in determining how complex (lightly roasted), how sweet and browned (dark roasted), or how balanced and earthy (medium roast) your coffee will be.
Remember the caffeine level is often determined by the roast. This means that if you love lots of caffeine, do the light roast. Lightly roasted coffee beans tend to be quite caffeine-concentrated compared to the dark and medium roasts.
And so, what is the process like?
It all begins by sourcing your green coffee beans.
The roasting process takes 16-18 minutes (that is, for large batches) and 10-13 minutes if you’re just roasting a small batch.
In terms of pounds, expect your final product after 20-30 minutes.
When subjected to heat, unroasted green coffee loses its water. This is usually the first stage of roasting and is referred to as the drying stage. Then you will shortly notice your beans begin to turn yellow—yellowing stage.
This period is also when your beans begin to darken, developing the aroma and flavor responsible for the fruity acidity and sweetness.
At higher temperatures, you will notice oils appear on the surface of your beans.
At 401 degrees F, your beans begin to expand and crack for the first time—usually marking the end of the browning stage.
Once all the water in the beans is evaporated, they reach second crack—usually at 437 degrees F. At this point, your coffee steadily becomes darker, releasing more carbon-like aromatics. Most of the sugars break down as the bittersweet taste intensifies thereby suppressing the acidity level.
For light and medium roasts, end at the first crack. However, for a dark roast, wait until after the second crack.
The step by step guide to roasting coffee at home
Read this advice carefully before you proceed. Also, be sure to check with the coffee roaster manual.
1. Decide on your roast method
This will greatly depend on how much control you would like to have over your roasting variables, the amount you want to roast, and of course, the budget you are willing to work with.
If you are under a tight budget, then consider using what you already have—a popcorn popper or a cast iron pan (put on a stovetop). If more control over your coffee roasting process is all you crave for or maybe you plan on roasting large amounts, then get a home coffee roaster.
2. Set up your preferred roasting space
Safety first…Ensure the space is well ventilated because at times the roasting process can be quite smoky. Good ventilation is also crucial for your roast quality.
If possible, roast outside or in an open garage to allow the smoke to escape easily. However, if roasting indoors, ensure the windows are open.
3. Roast your coffee
Go ahead and place your green coffee beans into the heating element. If you are using your newly acquired home coffee roaster, make sure you follow the manual. For the popcorn machine, just ensure you do not overfill it to allow some space for the chaff to escape.
Depending on the temperature, roasting on a popcorn machine or air roaster can take between 8-12 minutes; and 14-20 minutes when using drum roasters.
Constantly stir the beans to ensure an even roast.
Watch and pay attention for the first crack
You want to roast the beans until you achieve your desired level; however, keep in mind that coffee bean roasting never surpasses the 482 degrees F point. Anything beyond that will thin out the bean leaving you with a burnt taste.
4. Allow cooling before storing
Once you achieve your ideal roast development then you want to allow the beans to completely cool before storing.
Use a colander or the built-in chaff collector that comes with home coffee roasters—to separate the chaff (the gold-colored outer skin) from your roasted beans.
Once completely cooled, store in a non-airtight container or if you are using mason jars, consider leaving the lid loose for 12-24 hours (for the first day after roasting) to allow the beans to degas. Thereafter, tighten the lid or transfer the roasted beans to an opaque airtight container to limit oxygen exposure.
At this point you can grind your beans and enjoy your coffee at its most flavorful point, exhibiting the strongest aroma and impressive bloom.
A special note about unroasted green beans
Store the unroasted, green beans at room temperature. Keep them in a cool dry place, away from direct sunlight. This care will help preserve their quality and freshness for longer.
Hint: a home coffee roaster and green beans make a thoughtful gift for any coffee lover you might have occasion to shop for.
The Takeaway on Roasting Coffee at Home
Roasting coffee at home is the surest way to enjoy your favorite coffee brand as it comes with flexibility, plus you get to enjoy your coffee when fresh.
However, it calls for lots of patience and determination to perfect the craft. At some point, you may have to put up with your few batches that may turn out unevenly roasted—as you learn the skills. But all that comes with a satisfying reward at the end, when you will have established a roasting routine, consistently making good coffee.
For those a little impatient, the entire process can be frustrating. Still, the online purchase is a good option, especially if you can get roasters who provide on-demand roasting services. That way you still get to enjoy fresh and flavorful coffee without necessarily having to roast them yourself.