Coffee Roasting for Beginners

If you love coffee you want the best coffee. That means buying quality whole bean arabica coffee from Colombia and grinding enough for making coffee each day. Better yet you may wish to buy green arabica coffee beans from Colombia and roast your own coffee. Roasting your own coffee every day is a great way to get the freshest coffee for less than coffee shop prices. By roasting your own coffee you get to try out lots of different coffee varieties. And roasting your own coffee can turn into a simple and enjoyable hobby. So, here is a bit of useful information about coffee roasting for beginners.

You Do Not Need a Fancy Roasting Machine to Roast Coffee

You local coffee shop roasts its coffee beans every day. They use a commercial coffee roaster. The same folks who make commercial roasters also make smaller ones for home use. A small home coffee roaster can easily set you back $800. If you just want to try out roasting your own coffee you can use a home popcorn popper, a convection oven, or even a frying pan! The point is to heat the beans sufficiently to bring about the roasting process to the desired degree, light, medium, or dark roast.

Coffee Roasting for Beginners
Roasting Coffee with a Skillet

Roasting Coffee With Your Popcorn Popper

A good way to roast coffee for beginners is to use a hot air popcorn popper which you can purchase, if you do not have one already, for $25 to $30. All you need is the popper, a cup of high quality green arabica coffee beans, a tray for cooling the beans and your ears. Listen for cracking sounds and watch the clock after the first “crack.” For a light roast turn off the popper 5 seconds later. For a medium roast wait 25 seconds. Wait 45 seconds for a medium-dark roast. A dark roast will take 65 seconds after the first crack and a French roast will take 95 seconds. As a practical matter, beginners should start with light to medium roasts and adjust the time to their taste. Because this is a relatively simple and cheap process, you can simply start over if you mess up.

Because you will get chaff from the skin of the coffee bean, put a cloth or paper towel under the spout of the air popper. When you have used the correct amount of coffee beans, they will move with the airflow of the popper just like when you pop popcorn. If they are not moving you need to use fewer beans.

The cooling part is important because the heated beans continue to roast until they cool down. Simply putting the roasted beans on a cookie sheet, spreading them out with a spatula, and waiting five minutes is sufficient. Then grind your beans, make your coffee, and enjoy!

Roasting Coffee Beans in Your Oven

If you are going to use this approach, use a baking tray and line it with baking paper. Then add your green coffee beans and put them in the hot oven. With this process you should open the oven and turn the beans with a spatula every few minutes. Like with the popcorn popper method listen for the first crack and remove the beans from the oven 5 minutes later and longer for darker roasts. As you become accustomed to this method you can simply keep track of time after the first crack or listen for the second crack as well. Like with the popcorn popper method, remove the roasted beans and transfer to a cookie sheet to cool for five minutes.

Using a Frying Pan to Roast Coffee Beans

Most Colombians in the coffee growing regions buy roasted coffee at the supermarket. However, there are those who have the good fortune to have easy access to green coffee beans. Going back to the days of the “bisabuelas” or great grandmothers, the quickest and easiest way to roast coffee at home has been to put a single layer of green coffee beans in a dry skillet and heat over a medium to high flame on the stove. Although you can use a spatula to turn the beans, simply moving the skillet back and forth does the job. Like with the other processes, listen for the first crack and remove from the flame a few minutes later for a light roast and progressively longer for a darker roast. If the beans are still over the flame by the second crack it is time to remove them. Transfer to a cool surface for five minutes and you have excellent roasted coffee ready to grind and make your coffee.

What Is the Best Way to Roast Coffee?

All of the cheap and easy ways to roast coffee for beginners require a “hands on” approach. The rationale for using a machine that roasts coffee lets you roast larger quantities and allows you to automate the process. You can get excellent roasted coffee by any of the means we have described. But once you have found the right setting with your home coffee roaster you can generally get the same quality roasted coffee every time with less effort.

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