Every coffee lover knows the feeling of waking up to freshly brewed coffee in the morning. It is an even better feeling when you brew the coffee with home-roasted beans rather than store-bought. The process of roasting coffee beans is an art worth learning as it offers never-ending satisfaction and surprises when you perfect it.
Roasting your coffee beans at home is not very difficult. You can roast them in under ten minutes with the proper utensils and raw materials. To put it simply, you put the beans in a pot or pan on a lit stove and continuously stir them until they roast to your preferred color and aroma blend.
This guide will delve into the nitty gritties of roasting coffee and provide a much-needed guide for anyone willing to venture into this beloved practice. In addition to guiding you on the process, I will provide helpful information to help you appreciate the art of making coffee. While there is a prescribed coffee roasting method, individual preferences will significantly influence the process.
Reasons for Roasting Coffee Beans
Before we get into the process of roasting beans, it is crucial to understand why many people prefer roasting coffee beans. In addition to the obvious reason — the fantastic taste — other grounds may make you a passionate and committed coffee roasting expert.
Running out of coffee beans can ruin your day, especially if there are no stores nearby to replenish your coffee reserves. Roasting your coffee beans is the best way of avoiding this unpleasant situation.
Green beans can stay fresh for long periods meaning you will likely have enough stock for the foreseeable future.
It’s not a secret; coffee tastes great whichever way you take it. However, it tastes even better when it’s freshly roasted. Store-bought coffee beans are often stale since they have a shorter shelf life than green beans. When you taste newly ground coffee, you will note the stark difference in taste.
Access to Variety
There are many coffee varieties worldwide, and each one tastes different from the next. Sometimes, getting all these varieties is impossible if convenience and grocery stores do not stock them. If you roast your beans at home, you can order green coffee beans from anywhere in the world and enjoy a fresh cup of coffee every morning.
Green coffee beans are significantly cheaper than the pre-roast coffee available in stores. Aspiring coffee brewers will be pleased to learn that good quality green beans typically cost around half the price of the same quality of locally roasted coffee – shipping costs included.
Roasting your beans allows you to reduce your reliance on local supplies. If a supply disruption occurs due to natural calamities or disasters, you might go without your favorite cup of coffee for a while. Thus, roasting your beans is an effective way of avoiding this unnecessary reliance.
Home Coffee Roasting Essentials
Before you start roasting your coffee, there are certain things you should know. Here are five essentials that will help you in the process and make it easier to tell if your coffee is good and how long to keep roasting it.
It is crucial to ventilate the room whenever you are roasting your coffee. This is not an issue if your oven has an overhead fan. However, if you don’t have a fan over your oven, crack open a widow. There will be a lot of smoke during the roast, and ventilating the room will ensure you have a better experience.
Color Changes and Crackling Sounds
The color of the beans will tell a lot during the roast. They will start as green beans, slowly turn light brown, then golden brown, and finally black, depending on the roast level. As the beans change color, they will also produce crackling sounds.
Two distinctive crackling sounds will occur twice during different roasting stages. The first will happen after around 4 to 5 minutes, and the second after approximately 10 minutes.
People who enjoy a light roast can remove their beans from the fire as soon as they hear the first crack, and the beans turn light brown. Those who prefer a medium brew can wait a minute after the first crack before removing them from the stove. If you enjoy a darker brew, wait for the second crackling sound when the beans turn from medium dark to dark roast.
After the second crack, please do not keep the beans much longer on the stove since they will burn and get a charcoal-like smell. Your coffee will not taste that great and will likely ruin your morning. The beans will continue to cook even after you have switched off the stove so consider that before removing them from the fire.
Chaff is the byproduct of roasted coffee beans. It is the dry husk that has been removed by the heat and can cause a huge mess if not handled with care. To avoid this, taking your beans outside or moving to the sink when removing the chaff is crucial.
Storing Coffee Beans
Coffee beans can stay fresh for up to a month if you store them properly. Ensure they are not exposed to heat, light, or air. The best way to ensure this is by placing them in an airtight container away from light, preferably in a dark part of the pantry, depending on your kitchen plan.
With the above vital information, you will be better positioned to roast your coffee beans to a perfect color and aroma.
The following segment will outline and explain the salient process of roasting coffee beans without compromising the quality of your coffee.
1. Assembling the Things You Will Need
Roasting your coffee beans is an easy and cheap endeavor since all you will need is probably already in your kitchen. Assemble the following items initially to avoid any disruptions during the process, which may affect the quality of the roast.
- A pan or pot, depending on what is available. However, experts recommend a flat pan or a pot with a well-rounded bottom that can evenly distribute the heat.
- A colander is pretty helpful when cooling the beans at the tail end of the roasting process.
- A lid for the pan or pot to trap in the heat and evenly cook the coffee beans. It will also come in handy and prevent you from making a mess when shaking the beans.
- An electric or gas burner.
- Oven mints to avoid any nasty burns during the roast.
- A stirring device made from any material that is heat resistant. Experts recommend using a whisk since it tosses the beans around during stirring and exposes it to heat evenly.
- Good quality green coffee beans depending on your individual preferences.
Pro tip: Ensure you have everything you need before roasting your coffee to minimize movements that could result in accidents.
2. Preheat Your Pan
Start by preheating your pan. Set the flame to around medium-high, depending on your stove’s configuration. There is no set time for preheating the pan, but after a few tries, you will get the perfect setting to cook your beans properly.
Preheating the pan helps in the roasting since it exposes the beans to heat as soon as they hit the pan or pot. They will roast more quickly and efficiently than when the pan is not preheated. Preheating also improves the flavor and brew quality.
The Choice of Pan
You can use any pan that can hold the coffee beans over a stove. A few exceptions might influence this choice, but you are free to use any pan you will exclusively use to roast coffee beans in future.
Pots and pans made out of cast iron are recommended, but they tend to absorb aromas from different foods. Hence, there might be a risk of your coffee smelling like other foods and vice versa. It would therefore be wise to buy a new pan solely for this purpose.
The other significant consideration when selecting a pan is the thickness and coating. Use a pan that is thick and has no coating. Most non-stick cookware, such as saucepans and frying pans, are coated with a material called Teflon. This coating can get into your coffee beans due to the extreme heat, affecting the quality of the roast.
Carbon steel, stainless steel, or cast iron are all excellent choices.
3. Add the Green Coffee Beans
Add your green coffee beans into the already heated pan and ensure they form a single layer. A single layer is more effective than a double layer since it allows all the beans to be in direct contact with the bottom of the pan during roasting.
Many people avoid using a single layer since it is easy to burn or roast your beans unevenly using this method. A double layer can be half a cup, depending on the size of your pan. If you are using a pot, consider the depth of the pot, which might expose some beans to more heat than others.
4. Stir Your Beans Regularly
Stirring the beans regularly helps in the even distribution of heat. It allows you to regulate the amount of time each side of the beans is exposed to heat. It’s best to stir the beans every 20 to 30 seconds, so the ones at the bottom do not burn or taste different from the rest.
Alternatively, you can shake the pot — that’s where the lid comes in. Cover the pan or pot and shake the beans gently. Shaking them will distribute them all over the pan’s surface and complement stirring while the lid will prevent them from falling all over your kitchen floor. Additionally, the lid helps trap the heat inside, causing even roasting.
5. Watch Out for Color Changes and Listen for Sounds
I had previously mentioned the importance of color and sound changes in the roasting process. These will guide you on the length of the roast depending on how light or dark you prefer your coffee to be.
After the beans change from green to light brown and make the first crack, you can remove them from the flame if you enjoy light coffee. Nonetheless, you should ensure your roast is somewhere between the first and second crack. Removing them from the flame before the first crack and after the second crack results in bland or bitter-tasting coffee.
6. Cool the Beans
The final step in the roasting process is cooling the beans. After removing them from the flame, place them into your colander. Experts recommend using a colander instead of a bowl since the perforations allow in a lot of air which hastens the cooling process.
It is crucial to cool the beans as soon as possible. They tend to absorb smells and tastes if left exposed in the open for too long. You can place your colander outside where it is cold while you roast, ensuring it is very cool when the coffee beans go in.
It is also advisable to aerate the coffee beans to ensure no moisture is trapped between them, especially when roasting a lot of beans. Besides, trapped moisture may limit how long your roasted coffee beans remain fresh.
7. Separate the Chaff
After the beans have cooled, you should remove the chaff before it causes a mess. Experts recommend gently shaking the colander outside or under a sink until all the chaff is gone. You can also blow on the beans to ensure the chaff is all gone.
Store your beans in an airtight container away from light and moisture for at least a day before you brew the first cup. Letting the beans sit for a day or two helps them develop a full-bodied flavor. If you brew them immediately, the coffee will be somewhat flat.
Roasting your coffee is an art that takes a while to hone. You can learn it quickly, but you will need several attempts to get the proper brew according to your preferences. Most people enjoy home-roasted coffee, and there is a good reason for that. In addition to the taste, brewing your coffee beans is a form of accomplishment and gives you satisfaction.
Everyone can roast their coffee beans, and this guide is the best place to start.