Step-by-Step Guide to Roasting Coffee at Home

Updated on July 1, 2016
Marye Audet profile image

Marye Audet-White is an internationally known food writer, food editor for Texas Living, cookbook author, and food blogger.

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Knowing how to roast coffee at home means that you'll always have the freshest, best tasting coffee anywhere!

Home roasting green coffee beans is becoming increasingly popular. Although there are several methods you can use the basics of home roasting are the same no matter which you choose. Most of these are simple, don't need a lot of equipment, and produce a better cup of coffee than you have ever tasted.

Keep in mind that roasting will continue until the beans are cool so remove the beans from the heat when they are a little lighter than you want them to be.


Air Roasting

Air roasting, or the fluid bed method, is a way of roasting green coffee beans by using hot air. It takes under ten minutes and there is virtually no chance of scorching the coffee. You will need a special 550 degree thermometer to maintain a consistent temperature while the coffee beans are roasting.

This method is so easy that you can roast beans in a hot air popcorn popper.

Add about 2/3 cup of green coffee beans to the popper and place a large bowl under the chute, just as if you were popping popcorn. Flip the switch and turn it on. In about three minutes you will begin to hear a "crack". This is referred to by roasters as the first crack, where the coffee beans begin to actually roast. From this point you will want to monitor the beans carefully for color to be sure that you don't allow them to scorch.

A light roast will take about four minutes while a dark roast will take about 6 minutes. The color will develop very quickly so watch the beans carefully.

Remove the beans from the popcorn popper and allow to cool in a colander, stirring with a wooden spoon and moving the beans constantly to cool them quickly.

Sweet Maria's recommends the following three popcorn poppers for coffee roasting because the air enters from side vents (using a popper where the air enters from the bottom can cause a fire); West Bend Poppery 2, Popcorn Pumper, and the Popaire 2.

Roasting Coffee in a Popcorn Popper

Skillet Roasting

Skillet roasting requires even less equipment that the popcorn popper method but it is easier to end up with scorched beans or an uneven roast.

This is going to smoke so have the fan on and the windows open! Put a heavy pan (cast iron is perfect) on the stove.Turn the stove to medium heat and put the lid on the pan. If you have an oven thermometer set it inside and heat the pan to 500F. Remove the thermometer, pour in about 9 ounces of green coffee beans and put the cover back on. Begin to shake the pan and keep the beans moving as they roast. It's almost like making popcorn on top of the stove.

Listen carefully for the first crack. Check color quickly every minute or so by lifting the lid and taking a look. Check the beans after about 5 minutes to check the color of the roast - it should be dark.

Pour into a colander and cool, stirring as above.

Roasting Coffee in a Breadmaker

Oven Roasting

To oven roast the beans preheat the oven to 500F and place a heat proof colander with the beans inside on the middle shelf. Oven roasting of the beans is a little slower than other methods so it will take about 5 minutes to get to the first crack.

Keep checking the beans, they should start to color in about two more minutes. Be sure to open the oven and shake the beans to keep them roasting evenly. Beans should be roasted after about 12 minutes.

You may need to turn the oven up to 525 if they are roasting too slowly.

The i-Roast 2

Using a coffee roaster is the most consistent way to get perfectly roast coffee without scorching.

The i-Roast2 is under $200.00 and allows you to roast your coffee using a system of programmable stages to get the exact roast you want. It is considered the most advanced air roaster on the market.

With it you can have up to ten memory functions, and up to five stages in the roasting process. There is a chaff collector that automatically collects the chaff that is accrued during the roasting process. With the touch pad you can adjust the temperature during the roasting process for an extreme amount of control over the roast. If you just want to keep it simple there are two basic controls, one for light and one for dark roasts.

It will roast up to 1 cup of beans at a time, taking about twenty minutes each time. You will need to allow the roaster to cool between batches if you will be doing more than one batch at a time.

Roasting Coffee with an i-Roast

Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster

The Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster has a tempered glass drum design which allows you to view the beans as they roast, giving you an easy visual indicator of the degree of roast. You can make unlimited changes during the roasting process for time and temperature. Because of the drum and the inner vortex feature the beans tumble as they roast and air circulates around them creating the perfect conditions for a very even roasting process.

The Gene Cafe Roaster has a large capacity for a home roaster — you can roast up to 10 ounces of beans at a time.

It is more expensive than the i-Roast, averaging about $500.00.

Nesco Professional Coffee Roaster
Nesco Professional Coffee Roaster

Nesco Professional Home Coffee Roaster

The Nesco Professional Home Coffee Roaster is the only home roaster on the market with a patented catalytic converter smoke elimination system. Since the roasting process does create smoke no matter what method you use this is a great feature.

Beans are kept moving in the chamber by the auger system for consistent roasting.

Roasting time for the Nesco is about twenty five minutes including cooling times. The Nesco produces an excellent light roast coffee but because the cooling fan is not as powerful as it could be darker roasts are not as high quality as with some of the other roasters on the market.

It costs about $150.00

Other Home Roasters

Green Coffee Beans

The unroasted, green, beans come from many parts of the world. Each type will differ in character from the others. Even similar coffees grown on different plantations will differ in taste.

It is best to store your green coffee beans in a cool, dry place with low humidity. If possible store them in a material that breathes.

The green beans will pick up flavors around them so keep them away from strong scents and flavors like onions or spices.

Describing the Roast: Glossary

Cinnamon Roast.  Image: SweetMarias.com
Cinnamon Roast. Image: SweetMarias.com
Vienna Roast. Image: Sweetmarias.com
Vienna Roast. Image: Sweetmarias.com

The type of beans that you use will make a difference in the taste of your finished coffee. French Roast Ethiopian beans will taste different that French Roast Arabica beans. Blending and roasting are part of the process and the fun of roasting your own.

Here are the roasts from lightest to darkest.

Cinnamon Roast- lightest roast, little visible oil.

New England Roast- very light roast without much body

American Roast- light roast, often used when cupping the coffees

Medium City Roast- popular roast on the west coast. Chocolate colored

Full City Roast- Medium dark roast. Oils begin to form on the beans. This is where the character of the beans and where they originate are more obvious.

Vienna Espresso Roast - a dark roast the character of the coffee and where it originates is less apparent and the flavor of the type of roast becomes most apparent.

French Espresso Roast - most popular espresso roast. Dark brown beans with very apparent oil.

Italian Espresso Roast - Darkest roast yet, with oily appearance and chocolaty taste

Spanish Espresso Roast - The very darkest roast, a robust coffee. Thin body, little character.

How to Blend Coffees

The point of blending coffee is to produce a higher quality cup than you could with just one type bean. In order to successfully blend your own coffee you need to know the characteristics of the different types of beans and what each has to offer. This will make the blend unique and hopefully, delicious.

Single origin coffees that are done well don't necessarily need to be blended — individuality occurs in the combination of origin and roast.

Blending is easiest if you are experimenting when the beans are done after the individual coffee beans are roasted and you have cupped the beans as a single origin coffee. Your goal should be to create something that cannot be created in a single origin brew. This can only be done with experience; after you have become thoroughly familiar with the characteristics of the individual beans. As a rule, you should not blend more than five different types of coffee beans together because the taste becomes confused and muddy with no distinct characteristics.

Think of it as sticking a paint brush into each color and mixing the paint until you get a muddy gray- brown.

How to Cup Your Coffees

Cupping is the process of coffee tasting and is similar to wine tasting. It is a great way to experience the differences in the flavors of the coffees you roast and to learn more about them. The following is the basic cupping process:

1. Prepare a scent sample by placing about a teaspoon of fresh-roasted, ground coffee in a cup that holds 6 fluid ounces.

2. Smell the aroma being released from the sample to evaluate it when it is dry.

3. Pour nearly boiling water over the ground coffee.

4. Smell it from the cup immediately after adding the hot water. cup your hand over the cup of coffee to intensify the aroma.

5. Let the sample steep for 3 to 5 minutes and then stir.

6. While stirring, take a deep sniff to evaluate the wet aroma.

7. Skim and discard the foam from the surface of the coffee.

8. Take a spoonful of coffee into your mouth and slurp it to spread the fluid evenly across the tongue and into the back of the throat, covering your entire palate as much as possible.

9. Hold it in your mouth for 3 to 5 seconds and then spit it out.

10. Move your tongue across the roof of your mouth to evaluate texture.

Coffee Beans and Supplies

Organic and Fair Trade Coffee Terms

If you are going to the trouble of roasting your own coffee beans then you'll want to consider the higher quality of Fair Trade and organic coffees. By buying these coffees you are paying farmers who grow higher quality coffees what they are worth.

Here are some terms that you may come across in your quest for the perfect coffee:

  • Organic- coffee grown without the use of chemicals or pesticides
  • Shade grown- also called bird friendly. This means that the coffee plants are grown in such a way as to protect the habitat of the birds in the area. It often tastes better as well.
  • Fair Trade- Fair Trade coffee, also called equal exchange coffee, is coffee that is traded by bypassing the coffee trader and giving the producer higher profits. Fair trade certified coffee does not necessarily mean that the extra money trickles down to coffee farmers, but it is a start.

Questions & Answers

    Comments

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      • AMSpace profile image

        AMSpace 

        7 years ago from London, UK

        Very informative hub, I enjoyed reading it :)

      • my javafit coffee profile image

        my javafit coffee 

        7 years ago from Pleasanton, Ca

        Wow, lots of great info. Thanks

      • profile image

        sahnov 

        8 years ago

        nice hub, very inspiring me....

      • profile image

        Mike Chronos 

        8 years ago

        Interesting step by step. Coffee lovers will definitely love this hub.

      • Matilda T profile image

        Matilda T 

        8 years ago

        This is a really good hub. Thanks for taking the time to create it. Very informative and well done.

      • Florida Keys profile image

        Florida Keys 

        9 years ago from Jewfish Key Florida

        Hubpages pops related hubs up next to your hubs and this one was beside my hub on making the perfect cup of coffee.....well written. I totally agree roasting is the way to go....when you have time!

      • coffeeconnoisseur profile image

        coffeeconnoisseur 

        10 years ago from Portland, Oregon

        There is just nothing like freshly roasted coffee... starts every day like a lazy Saturday... at least through one cup...

      • blackjava profile image

        blackjava 

        10 years ago from Canada

        Great hub. I've always wanted to get a small roaster and try my hand at it. Just never seemed to get around to it.

      • mathan1234 profile image

        mathan1234 

        10 years ago from Oklahoma City, OK

        I second Sweet Marias. :)

      • Marye Audet profile imageAUTHOR

        Marye Audet 

        10 years ago from Lancaster, Texas

        Sweet marias is the best for green coffee..I get my custom roast from a local Dallas area roaster.

      • Kat07 profile image

        Kat07 

        10 years ago from Tampa

        Marye - where do you get your fesh coffee beans?

      • mathan1234 profile image

        mathan1234 

        10 years ago from Oklahoma City, OK

        I wrote a coffee roasting "how-to" as my first hub. Yours is hands-down so much better than mine! I currently roast about 1lb at a time using a metal drum on a rotisserie kit in my propane grill. I wish more people understood how much better freshly roasted coffee is compared to grocery store coffee!

        Great hub! :)

      • Whitney05 profile image

        Whitney 

        10 years ago from Georgia

        I'm not a big coffee drinker, but I will admit you put a lot of research into this hub.

      • Lynett profile image

        Lynett 

        10 years ago from USA

        Great Hub! Love all the photos, and instructions. I've been thinking about buying one of those coffee plants you have a photo of. I just can't decide if it would grow or not,LOL.

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