It has never been so accessible to roast your own coffee beans at home! Indeed, dedicated roasting machines are now available at affordable prices and simplify the process considerably. In this article, I detail my experience learning how to roast coffee and share what I learned along the way. So, if this concept of home roasting is new to you, this article will probably be helpful!
A few years ago, I discovered the amazing character of a freshly roasted local coffee. In fact, just a few days after roasting, this type of coffee completely redefines the way you think - personally, I gravitate towards the freshest coffee possible as I like to experiment with different brewing methods. However, the price of premium coffee has not always been viable for me! So rather than settle for stale coffee from the supermarket, I started looking into home roasting coffee.
The next Christmas, my wonderful wife - always very thoughtful! - surprised me with a coffee roaster, a book on home roasting, and several packages of unroasted green coffee beans. How much more awesome can you get? That was all I needed to get started... and I was roasting my beans in a matter of days.
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Why bother roasting your own coffee beans?
Roasting coffee at home has many advantages and benefits. I will list them quickly:
- Roasting coffee is a fun and rewarding hobby.
- It responds to a financial logic once the method has been mastered.
- Your own roasted coffee beans will give a superior result to other coffees and your friends will be jealous.
- This is a great gift for friends and family.
- You can buy raw coffee beans inexpensively, especially by buying them in bulk, while saving yourself trips to a local roasting store.
- You won't have to put up with intensely bitter and overpriced supermarket coffee.
So, aren't you excited to try your hand at roasting? Warning! Before you do, you need to consider the following points to make sure you are compatible with coffee roasting.
Is home roasting for you?
If you're considering learning how to roast coffee beans, you need to know where you stand. Indeed, even though the basic roasting of coffee is relatively simple, I would like to share with you some of the less obvious parts of the experience, so that you can manage your expectations!
First, when I started roasting my own coffee beans, I realized very quickly that I should have done a little more research beforehand. I burned my first beans and let me tell you, it stunk up the house... Of course, the smoke detectors went off too and the coffee chaff went everywhere! In fact, it took me several batches before my coffee was roasted evenly. Basically, these things are certainly easy to control, but only if you have done your homework first.
In the end, you can realize that home coffee roasting may not be for everyone, as it requires a certain level of dedication. Nevertheless, if you are a fairly meticulous and patient person, chances are you will enjoy this hobby! That being said, the choice of machine is also important. The differences between models are really significant, especially when it comes to these levels of involvement and cleaning, so select your roaster carefully.
Roast your own beans to save money
Coffee roasting is one of those rare hobbies that also makes financial sense! In fact, raw, unroasted coffee beans cost much less than roasted beans - even more if you buy these green coffee beans in large batches - and last much longer. The result is that you save time and money.
For example, I usually only make 2-3 coffee purchases online per year and can roast a pound of coffee in less time than it takes to go to a roaster - even though it costs me about 1/3 the price! So if you're a big coffee drinker and prefer high quality coffee, the savings on roasting should be a strong incentive to get started.
Where to buy raw coffee beans
The most convenient way to buy raw coffee beans at a lower cost is through the Internet. I have two recommendations, depending on the size of your order.
For small purchases (a few pounds or less), I recommend using Amazon. The cost of shipping may or may not be included, but it's a cost-effective way to get started and you'll receive your coffee quickly. Here's an example of the coffee to look for: 1.5 kg, single origin unroasted green coffee beans, specialty grade from a single Nicaraguan estate.
I have also written a coffee bean buying guide
Either way, your unroasted coffee beans should be much cheaper than the roasted alternative. That's how I buy all my coffee!
Monitor the roasting process
You will need to pay special attention to your roast. Indeed, all roasters must be monitored 100% of the time during the roasting cycle. Be aware that the beans will reach 400 to 500 degrees and can easily become a fire hazard. There is no such thing as a roaster that can be left in your home unattended! Granted, some roasters are more multitasking friendly than others (like the Nesco), but you still need to stay alert throughout the roasting cycle.
In that sense, it's not a bad idea to keep a fire extinguisher near your roasting station. Well, if you're careful, you probably won't run into any problems! Also be careful if you are roasting indoors, you can set off your smoke detectors if there is poor ventilation.
Do not forget to ventilate
You will need to vent the air around your roaster. Depending on the machine, the roasting of the coffee can produce a lot of roasted smoke. Note that it is most often towards the end of the roast that the smoke detectors go off. So keep an eye on the quality of your ventilation.
If you have a hood that vents to the outside, that will do the trick. If not, you will probably have to open the windows or even roast outside. However, some machines like the Nesco Pro remove smoke and can easily be used indoors. Your house will still smell a bit like burnt grass on the day of your roast.
By the way, if you think the smell of freshly roasted coffee is delicious, you should know that the pleasant smell of coffee doesn't really become apparent until a day after roasting. Freshly roasted coffee is more like a combination of grass and campfire. Your whole house will smell like that if your ventilation is not adequate!
Your senses, the ultimate allies to estimate the progress of the roast
It is essential to identify the different stages of the roast.
In most cases, nothing obvious happens at first and the experience can be a bit dull. However, once the beans are hot enough, things progress very quickly. The flavor changes and the color darkens. The beans heat up to the point where the starch breaks down, causing slight crackling sounds. These signals help identify what stage of roasting you are in.
The first time you hear a crackling sound during roasting is called the "first crack". This indicates that the breakdown of the starch has begun. Pulling the grains at the first crack will result in a lighter roast than one minute later.
As the grains continue to roast, they make different, higher-pitched crackling sounds. This is the "second crack," signaling a later stage and a much darker roast. This is precisely when your smoke alarm may go off - if you like your coffee black, you've been warned!
Using your senses - sight, smell and hearing - will help you identify the stage of the roast and achieve the desired result.
After the roast, the cleaning!
A cleaning is necessary. During the roasting process, the coffee separates from a thin outer film called "straw", which must be collected and removed. It is most often found on top and you will need to remove it effectively before storing your coffee, because it can completely ruin the taste.
Fortunately, many automatic roasters have a mechanism that collects it during the cooling cycle for easy cleaning. However, if you are using a manual roaster, you will need to do this yourself, most often with a strainer.
How to store your coffee beans?
Freshly roasted coffee should be stored in an airtight, opaque container with a degassing valve. These containers will allow your coffee to release gases in the days following roasting, while protecting it from light and outside air.
There are many variations, but I recommend the Coffee Gator stainless steel container. Most importantly, make sure you get one with a vent valve!
- Keep the taste of your coffee protected from CO2. Most containers on the market allow light, oxygen, CO2 and moisture to pass through, which will damage and alter the flavor of the coffee. The Coffee Gator container protects your coffee from all these aggressions.
- Protect your coffee from CO2. After roasting, coffee beans naturally emit CO2, which quickly alters its taste. That's why we've equipped our coffee container with a non-return valve that allows CO2 to escape without allowing outside air to filter in.
- Check the freshness of your coffee! The lid of our container has a circular expiration date indicator, so you can regularly check the freshness of your coffee. The Coffee Gator container is ideal for ground and bean coffee.
A few days after roasting, your coffee will become aromatic and tasty. All this will be worth it, knowing that it would cost you a lot of money to experience this elsewhere...
When it comes time to grind and prepare my own coffee beans, I am always blown away by the smell and taste. I really can't get enough of it! I only buy roasted coffee a few times a year, only when I'm in a hurry and don't have time to roast it myself. Anyway, if you're the do-it-yourself type and love coffee, you'll probably get a lot of benefit from home roasting.
There you have it, this is a good summary of the things I've learned since I started roasting! I really love it and am proud of the fact that I roast my own coffee. The best part is that this hobby has also saved me hundreds of dollars every year, despite the price of roasters. So I highly recommend it to all coffee geeks who are considering roasting!
Finally, if you are seriously interested in roasting, I recommend checking out Kenneth David's book Home Coffee Roasting, Romance and Revival (seen on Amazon).
This book details everything from the regions of origin of the coffee beans to the roasting technique, with summaries and diagrams of the different types of roasters. In fact, you shouldn't buy a roaster without reading this book! As such, you'll probably find it among the Amazon recommendations, next to the roasters.
If you think this article might be helpful to someone, please feel free to share it with them! I'm always happy to answer questions as well.
Previously a tester of household appliances, I discovered a passion for coffee and the Barista world 6 years ago. I now spend my spare time sharing my experiences with my community. I hope you will find some nuggets on my blog 😃
Dernière mise à jour le 2022-06-28 / Liens affiliés