Roasting coffee beans is probably the core factor that determines the taste of your morning brew.
When I got into this coffee thing, I often wondered that roasting coffee beans require a bulky roaster; it is expensive, time-consuming, difficult, etc.
But guess what…It is way easier than you think and you also don’t need a coffee roaster.
Perhaps some of the simplest methods are going to work best for you, but this isn’t always the case. It’s always better to have more than a few options to choose from rather than searching around online for something way overpriced!
How to get better results roasting coffee?
Learn more about your green beans
Unroasted coffee beans are available more than in recent years and this is a good thing. But are you overlooking an important point before they get roasted? It’s not everyone’s cup of tea to grind and brew green coffee beans unless you love the flavor of unroasted coffee. That’s not exactly the point we’re hinting at here since you want to find out something that will give you an insight into the delicate flavors within your beans.
Each type of coffee bean that’s grown anywhere in the world will have a specific flavor while it’s still green. So if you get a bean that tastes woody or earthy, roasting this bean won’t bring out fruity or cocoa-like notes. Even if you have to start with very small handfuls of unroasted beans to select the kind you like, you can always blend two kinds together to create better flavors that will roast better based on these unroasted flavors.
Be a better coffee taster
Learning to taste coffee doesn’t require the same level of training that wine tasters go through, but you should have a basic introduction to use your sense of smell and taste to weed-out poor tasting coffee beans. Even when they are green, you can get a sense if they’re worth roasting or not. Try watching an online video on coffee dumping (no pun intended) to assess the strengths and weaknesses of green and roasted coffee.
Are you extracting correctly?
Getting the very best results in grinding and brewing your coffee always depends on factors that come from the grinder you’re using and how long coffee is extracted. This can easily turn great-tasting coffee you’ve tried at specialty coffee shops into terrible results if you get the extraction time wrong or have the incorrect grind size. This is why you’ll do better by taking notes on brewing times to get the results that you like with different brewing times.
Eco-friendly Vs Fair-Trade coffee beans
It’s not a matter of being politically correct, since coffee beans have never been exploited while being grown. But in recent years, there’s a lot of talk about ethical farming practices that carry fancy rainforest stamps on them. The biggest difference in this kind of business is the cost that you pay for feeling better about something you cannot see happening. You’ll have to decide whether the cost is really worth the taste if you can have the same with cheaper costing coffee beans. See more on buying coffee here.
Get a second opinion
Coffee has always been a social event and this is why having a friend who loves coffee join you in your tasting sessions. You can benefit from having a second opinion (or third) to see how everyone likes the flavor of different tasting coffee beans. You might even find out the differences in palates that everyone has that discover flavors you can’t identify. This method always makes sense since you can compare scores on judging which coffee dump is the best.
Ways to Roast Coffee Beans at Home
Now before you give up all hope and decide to plunk down some serious money on a home roaster, you’re not out of luck for some new tips on roasting coffee beans at home.
It is ok to roast inside your home, but I’d recommend doing this outdoors, in the backyard. The smell of coffee bean roasting isn’t bad, but it lingers for a long time.
However, if you are doing indoor, it is better to maximize ventilation. Open the windows and turn on the exhaust fan.
Handy handheld roaster
These handheld roasters are best-suited for micro-roasting when you want to make very small batches. You can use a can of Sterno or a portable gas stove so you don’t make a mess with the chaf that comes off the beans. Be sure to use kitchen gloves so you don’t burn your hand. These smaller handheld units have mesh screens that hold the beans and will roast them as you hold these above a heat source for 5 minutes to the desired darkness you like.
Hand crank popcorn popper
These are called Whirly popcorn makers and often have a hand crank to spin the popcorn kernels. These have been used effectively by amateur coffee roasters for decades with great success. The best tip is to cut off the end of the crank next to the winding handle and attach a portable hand drill that has adjustable speeds to turn it. You can also attach it to a BBQ Spin motor for a slower speed, but this does need some extra modification to attach it.
Electric coffee roaster machine
When all else fails, you can look into buying an electric coffee bean roaster. These look nearly the same as your Mother’s crock pot and will roast beans at a set temperature and with models that even come with built-in timers. It’s a lazy way to roast coffee beans if you want to go the Ron Popeil method of setting it and forgetting it. Then again, for under $100 bucks, these machines get some rave reviews from home-based roasting coffee fans.
1: Roasting Coffee Beans In A Pan
This is probably the easiest and quickest way of roasting coffee beans. It yields the best results, and the coffee brewed later on tastes delicious.
How To Roast?
Take the pan and place it on medium heat. The best temperature is 450F. It can be difficult, but you can experiment to find the best heat.
Next, add the green coffee beans. Place a layer of beans so they cover the pan and it is easier for you to stir it. Stirring must be continuous else the beans won’t get heated evenly.
Keep on stirring and wait for the first cracking sound. This will come after about 5 minutes. This is what we call a LIGHT ROAST.
If you want a light roast, then pour the beans in the metal colander else, keep on roasting them for another 6-7 minutes before they make another crack. This is what we call a MEDIUM ROAST.
At this point, you should dump them into the metal colander to cool them down. Make sure you have the cooking gloves to avoid any burns.
You can roast the beans for another 1-2 minutes if you need a DARK ROAST. I’d recommend sticking to medium roast. You may burn the beans in trying so.
Finally, leave the beans exposed for about 12 hours to de-gas. Store them in the airtight container, and you are all hooked up to grind and brew them.
Here is a video explaining the coffee bean color changes:
2: Roasting Coffee Beans In a Popcorn Machine
Before we start, it is important to know that a popcorn machine is made for popcorn, not for roasting beans. This will void its warranty!
How to Roast?
To begin, pre-heat the popcorn machine for 30 seconds.
Measure approx. ½ cup of green beans and pour them into the machine. Don’t overfill the popcorn maker else the beans won’t rotate properly. Best is to use the same quantity of beans as the machine recommended for corn kernels.
While the agitation should be perfect, I would recommend using the wooden spoon to stir manually. Have a lid on the top but give it a manual stir every minute.
The first crack should be around 3-5 minutes which is a light roast. The second crack will sound after another 6-8 minutes, but it may take up to 12 minutes, while for the dark roast it can take another minute or two.
However, after the second crack, pour the coffee beans in a metal colander and stir them using the wooden spoon.
Allow the beans to de-gas for 12 hours before you grind and brew.
3: Roasting Coffee Beans In An Oven
To roast in an oven, you need perforated oven tray. It is a bit tricky, but the final results are amazing.
How to Roast?
Pre-heat the oven at 500F.
With the cooking gloves on, spread the green beans over a perforated oven tray. Make sure they are not stacked.
Place the tray in the middle of the oven as it provides consistent temperature. Also, shake the tray as the beans roast.
The first crack will occur in 5-7 minutes, indicating a light roast. However, the second crack for a medium roast would take no longer than a minute and heat them for another 30 seconds will give you a dark roast.
Slide out the tray and immediately transfer the roasted coffee beans in the metal colander. Stir them with the wooden spoon and leave the beans exposed for 12 hours to de-gas.
- Always store the roasted and de-gas beans in an airtight container
- Make sure you wear the cooking gloves or oven mitts before roasting
- Have proper ventilation
A very easy way of roasting coffee beans is using a coffee bean roaster. Here is an infographic that explains how to roast coffee beans in a coffee roaster.
A coffee roaster can cost between $50 and as much as $500.
Best tips for storing freshly roasted coffee beans
Burping your beans
You already know that you need to allow fresh-roasted beans to sit out and de-gas for 12 hours so you don’t have excess amounts of carbon dioxide trapped inside your beans. After half of a day, these gases escape and then your beans are ready for storage. You should find a plastic container that can be burped to remove as much air as possible. If you can find a container that has a little vacuum pump to remove excess air, it’ll be worth it in the long term.
Vacuum sealed is the best
Thanks to the low cost of commercial-grade vacuum sealers that are sold nearly everywhere these days, you can get the best vacuum seals for beans in large or small quantities. You can even decide if you want to seal these individual bags for daily or weekly use so your roasted beans will last through seasons without losing flavor or going stale due to being exposed to air. The best tip is to use Mylar bags to achieve the longest and most secure vacuum seal.
Can you freeze-dry freshly roasted beans?
More than you might imagine, many people are starting to invest in freeze-dry machines. The thought of roasting, grinding, and brewing your coffee and then into a freeze-dryer really sounds insane, but the result is amazing. What you end up with are pure coffee crystals that can be reconstituted in water. When packed in vacuum-sealed bags, these crystals can last 20 years with no change in flavor just as the day it was brewed.