Ok, forget everything negative you've heard about roasting your own beans. It's not that hard or complicated at all. By roasting at home, you can get the ultimate control over your coffee brewing. Just think of all the experimenting you can do.
There are many tools you can use to roast your coffee beans, including appliances you may already have in your kitchen. Aside from actual coffee roasters, you can use an air popcorn popper, a wok, a skillet, or even just the oven. I already have details on using a popcorn popper, but watch for future articles with instructions using other methods.
Though each method has its own unique traits, the general process for roasting beans is always the same. Once you get to know the goings-on of roasting, you will be able to modify your methods to suit you better.
The Basic Roasting Process
- You'll need to get your beans heated up to between 460F and 530F
- Do your roasting in small batches, to keep things manageable.
- Your green beans will first turn yellow, then start to brown.
- The moisture within the beans will begin to steam off.
- The steam will soon take on a familiar coffee aroma.
- First Crack - a loud crack can be heard as the remaining moisture bursts from the bean. At this point, the sugars are starting to caramelize and you can consider your coffee roasted. Of course, this is only the lightest roast. You can keep roasting until the you reach the darkness you prefer. Your beans will darken quickly, so you will have to keep an eye on them.
- The sugars caramelize further, and the oils of the coffee bean are released, creating a more flavourful roast. Only your own taste preference can determine how dark you want to go. Trial and error will help. You may want to save a few beans from a roast you like, so you can compare the colour.
- Yes, there will be some smoke as you roast. Be prepared to get a fan going or open a window.
- Second Crack - another loud crack will be heard. Your coffee is quite dark at this point. Most people reach their desired 'doneness' before the second crack takes place.
- If your roast much beyond the second crack, all of the sugars will have burned off and your beans will produced a harsh and bitter cup of coffee.
- The length of time it takes to reach the various stages really depends on what method you are using. It may take anywhere from 10-20 minutes for a dark roast. Keeping note of the time may help when trying to replicate your results, but you should ultimately trust your eyes and nose when watching for 'doneness'.
- One more point: your beans will continue to roast under their own heat once you remove them from your roaster. Keep this in mind when you are watching them brown. You should stop the roasting a wee bit before they reach the desired darkness level. Cooling them quickly by tossing the beans in a colander or even spritzing with a little water will help keep the prolonged roasting to a minimum.