coffee beans

Occasionally, I’ll write about a topic that interests me but falls outside the normal scope of this blog. I hope you find this article to be a refreshing change of pace, and the usual content will return soon. Thanks!

Here is something I bet no one has ever said to you before:

If you enjoy good coffee, you should consider roasting your own coffee beans.

You might not have even known that home roasting is a thing, but it totally is. It’s a fantastic hobby, in fact. Let’s break down why.

1. Freshness

The secret to great coffee is freshly roasted beans.

Freshly roasted coffee can be incredibly subtle. Depending on the bean, you can pick out flavors like:

  • orange
  • blueberry
  • apple
  • white grape
  • caramel
  • molasses
  • chocolate
  • licorice
  • leather (really)

The problem is, most of the subtlety only lasts a week or so because the oils and compounds in the roasted beans degrade quickly. If you’re interested in the science behind coffee staling, check out Emma Sage’s thorough article What is the Shelf Life of Roasted Coffee? A Literature Review on Coffee Staling.

I got into home coffee roasting out of necessity. I live in rural northeast Missouri, and fresh coffee beans (that is, beans that have been roasted in the last week) aren’t available. I don’t mean that they’re expensive or hard to find, by the way. They literally cannot be purchased commercially. If you want great coffee around here, you have to make it yourself. Lucky for me, my friend Erin (hi Erin!) was already an advanced home roaster and taught me the ropes. I’ve been drinking fresh coffee ever since.

2. Cost

Home roasting actually saves you money, and that’s rare in a hobby.

With many hobbies, the activity itself is the point. Take boating, for instance. People go out on the water because it’s fun and relaxing, and that’s great! Boating costs money, but your return on investment is the experience itself and the pleasure it brings you.

Roasting your own coffee beans, on the other hand, saves cash. It’s far, far cheaper than buying fresh beans from a high-quality commercial roaster. Let’s look at the numbers, shall we?

On a recent trip to St. Louis, I stopped by Kaldi’s Coffee, a local company and one of my favorite commercial roasters. I perused their offerings and settled on a pound of single-origin Ethiopian coffee. The price wasn’t displayed, and when I checked out, I experienced a little sticker shock:


I grudgingly paid.

Was it worth it? As a one-time purchase: absolutely. The coffee was delicious, a real treat. I thoroughly enjoyed drinking it over the next week. But even if I had regular access to fresh, commercially-roasted coffee, that’s a bit more than I want to spend regularly.

By contrast, a pound of unroasted, green coffee beans from Sweet Maria’s costs me only 30% of the above figure:


That’s some serious savings. Now, you’re probably not paying $24 for a pound of coffee, but you might be paying $12, and the coffee you’re getting isn’t nearly as fresh as what you can produce at home.

3. Satisfaction

This one’s pretty simple: There’s just something deeply satisfying about drinking coffee you roasted yourself.

Our world is pretty focused on consuming, and I think we need to be creating as well. Roasting your own coffee is a way to put a little more creation in your life. Plus, you guys, the coffee is way better.

On Friday, I’ll cover how to roast your own coffee. Stay tuned, because it’s easier than you think!

I know a few of you readers are home roasters. Why did you get into it?