coffee beans roasted tonal

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!

We talked last time about why coffee drinkers should roast their own coffee beans, and we went over three reasons:

  1. Freshness. Most store-bought coffee is over a week old, which means it’s stale.
  2. Cost. High-quality commercially-roasted coffee can cost over $20/pound, whereas roasting coffee at home costs around $7/pound.
  3. Satisfaction. It just feels good to do things yourself.

Okay, so you’re intrigued. “I like coffee,” you say, sipping your coffee. “Tell me more. [slurp]”

What You Need

Green Coffee Beans

coffee beans green in bagI buy mine from a company in Oakland called Sweet Maria’s. An economical way to start is with one of their 4-pound sampler packs, but you can also just grab a single pound. Green coffee beans are kind of heavy (beans lose about 20% of their weight in the roasting process), so shipping is about $9.

A Popcorn Popper

poppery iiIf you have one of these in your basement, you’re in luck. The most popular option is the West Bend Poppery II, plentiful on eBay.

You can try roasting with any popcorn popper, but the old Popperys seem to work best. They’re a little higher-powered than most current models (1200 watts), and the side vents in the roasting chamber seem to give a more even roast than the bottom vent commonly found today.

You can also roast with a Whirly-Pop or even a cast iron skillet. I’ve never tried either of these methods, but they’re both viable options!

How to Roast

  1. Measure out 3/4 cup of coffee and dump into popcorn popper. Put the plastic hood back in beans green
  2. Set the popper near the sink or place a bowl next to it to catch the chaff. Roasting coffee produces a bit of smoke, so you may want to roast under your kitchen hood, or even outside if the weather’s nice.
  3. Turn that bad boy on.
  4. After 3-4 minutes, you’ll hear a series of pops. This is what’s called “first crack,” and this stage will last for about a minute. Once you no longer hear these pops, you can stop the roast. [Note: There are different roast levels, and this is the lightest: City roast. You can definitely go darker if you want, but I recommend stopping here your first time.]

coffee beans mid roast Coffee beans about 2.5 minutes into a roast.

  1. Cool the beans. I prefer dumping them on a cookie sheet and setting them outside for a couple of beans cooling
  2. Store the coffee in a coffee canister or even a mason jar. The freshly-roasted beans will release CO2 at first, so leave the lid loose for about 12 hours to allow it to escape.

coffee beans roasted Freshly roasted beans!

That’s it!

Home coffee roasting is an art, and like my series on Getting Things Done, this is just a quick-and-dirty summary to get you started. If you’re intrigued, take some action! Pick up a popper on eBay, order some beans, and take your coffee game to the next level.