When one has a passion for something they want to experience all aspects of their interest. They want to gain knowledge of their passion and dive whole-heartedly into this one love. A beer lover may try brewing their own beer to fully understand the full capacity of their pint. A wine aficionado may find interest in harvesting their own grapes and fermenting them into a fine wine. One who loves coffee to the point that they want to learn how the beans develop into a brewed pot may take interest in roasting their own coffee beans at home. Over the years people have developed different techniques and equipment for doing just that- Home Roasting. Roasting at home may be inexpensive and quite simple.
Sourcing your green coffee
You may wonder, “Well, where do I get the un-roasted, green beans”. Growing your own may be time consuming and complicated, therefore purchasing green beans would be the best route to go. Research and contact your local roasters, and they may be able to sell you un-roasted, green beans. They will steer you in the right direction and help you choose the type of bean that will best suit you needs. You may want to start with one, less expensive type bean until you get you techniques up to par. Then you may choose to purchase a variety for experimenting with different blends, and perhaps flavoring.
Just Starting Out
When beginning your new hobby, you may not want to put a lot of money into it. There are many different home roasting machines, that can range in prices. But, there are also many simple and cheap techniques that you can try using normal household appliances. Some tips to remember with each is, to make sure you are working in a well ventilated area. Roasting the beans produce a lot of smoke that can bother most people if not ventilated properly. Also, while roasting, a layer of the bean burns off, and produces chaff, therefore prepare to clean and discard this chaff. The Skillet Method- Cheap and easy, a campers dream. All this method requires is a flame and a skillet or wok. Make sure you are working in a well ventilated area, this can get smoky. Depending on the size of your skillet, measure out about 9-12 ounces. Place the beans in the skillet over a low flame, or medium electric setting. Put the lid on and start shaking. Make sure the beans are in constant motion. Listen for the cracking of the beans and the smoke, about 5 minutes. Remember that the beans continue to roast when taken off the heat, so remove the lid to check the color. Take it off the heat when the color is a tad bit lighter that your desired roast color. Be careful, because it is easy to over roast the beans. Place the beans in a colander to allow to cool. Grind and enjoy
- Oven Roasting – This can be tricky, temperamental, and tends to produce uneven roasts, but is do-able. Preheat your oven to around 500 degrees. Place your beans in a stainless steel wire mesh colander. This allows for air movement around the beans for uniformity. Place beans on the middle rack when the temperature of the oven reaches 475 to 500 degrees. Close the oven door and allow the beans to roast. Listen for the first crack and allow to roast more. When checking the color, make sure you open the oven quickly, so not to allow the heat to escape. Every couple minutes shake the beans around, but make sure to be quick so you don’t burn your beans. This technique may take longer than the other methods, but turn up the heat if it takes longer that 15 minutes. The roast may loose it’s flavor if allowed to heat for too long. Take the beans out when a slight bit lighter that the desired color. Grind and Enjoy.
- Air Popcorn Popper Method- Yes, you read correctly. Believe it or not, you can roast your beans using a old fashioned popcorn popper. So, you may have to dig it out of the attic, but it will be worth it. This is so easy, it is just like popping popcorn. First, like all methods make sure you are in a well ventilated area. Place the same amount of beans, that you would popcorn. Place the lid on, and start roasting. Listen for the cracking, and then start checking the color through the clear, top lid of the popper. This method usually takes about 4-6 minutes, depending on your desired color. When the beans are a slight bit lighter that your desired color, open the escape door and drain beans into a colander for cooling.
- Heat Gun Method- This just gets better and better, doesn’t it. Yes, you can believe this too. You can go into your garage and dig up that good ol heat gun. Again, and I can’t stress this enough, make sure you are properly ventilated and prepared to clean up chaff. Place beans, about 8-16oz. in a metal colander. Preheat the heat gun for a few minutes, on the lowest heat setting. Be careful when using this method of roasting because chaff can get sucked into the gun and catch on fire. Hold the gun about an inch from the beans, start heating the beans, moving the gun in circular motions. While heating the beans with the gun in one hand, stir the beans with a large metal spoon, with the other hand. Listen for the cracking and then watch the color carfully. Stop the heat gun when reach close to the desired color. Allow to cool, and seperate the chaff. Your arm will get a workout with this method.
Purchasing and Using Home Roasting Appliances
So, you have experimented with the above techniques and you now want to take your skills to the next level. You are ready to buy your own home roaster. When purchasing one of these machines, make sure you do your research. Just like buying a camera or a stereo, home roasters come in many shapes, sizes and prices. You want to pick the perfect one to suit your needs. There are two types of home roasters, one in which uses the air roasting process, similar to the above Popcorn Popper.
This type of roaster uses a column of hot air to both roast and agitate the beans, producing a roast with more acidity that other style machines. Some ones to check out- The Hearthware- iroast2 or The Nesco Coffee Roast. You may even get lucky and find one of these on ebay. The second type of Roaster uses the radiant drum method of roasting. These home roasters tend to hold a larger capacity of beans and roast them using a rotating drum over a heat source. The beans gets tumbled and tossed during the roasting, producing uniformity. Radiant drum roasters allows for a longer heat time than air roasting, which results in coffee with more body than acidity.
My recommendations on this type of roaster- Hot Top Drum Home Coffee Roaster or The Alpenrost Rotary Drum Home Coffee Roaster by Swissmar. Again, most of these home roasting appliances are fairly expensive, so be sure that you are certain about making the investment.
So, you are now on you way to starting your own roasting company, right?? Well lets not jump the gun. Have fun with this, and take all precautions. Home roasting can be a great experience and you may become hooked.