How To Roast Coffee Beans At Home

Feb 23, 2012 10:01 am

The ultimate craft roast could be your own

Coffee roasting
Photos: Chantal Martineau and handwrite
Take your coffee geekery to the next level with home roasting.

So, you’re a coffee geek. You know your barista, roaster and maybe even the farmer who grows the beans by name. Your brewing implements hail from places like Japan and Portland. You regularly have to explain your usual coffee order to mere cappuccino-slurping mortals (“A Gibraltar is something between a latte and a macchiato, duh.”) But there is one breed of coffee cultist who has you beat: the home roaster.

Or hadn’t you considered cutting out the craft-roasting middleman? In this era of DIY glorification, why not give it a try? Those already hooked on at-home roasting will tell you it’s as easy as pie. There are several different methods, including the use of an old-school popcorn air popper and the stovetop covered pan approach. You can also spend anywhere from $150 to $1,000 on a countertop roaster. Every home roaster has his preferred strategy, achieved through trial and error. While nearly everyone we consulted denounced at least one of these techniques, they did all agree that the one method just about anyone can try is oven roasting.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Green coffee beans, available at online shops like Sweet Maria’s, The Coffee Project and Mr. Green Beans.
  • A gas oven, preferably near a window
  • A stainless steel wire mesh strainer, colander or perforated disposable roasting tin
  • A large spoon
  • Oven mitts
Photos: Chantal Martineau and TK
Spread out the beans

Preheat your oven to 500 degrees F. Spread out the beans in the tin or colander evenly, just one layer deep. Place the bowl directly on the middle shelf (not on a baking sheet) and close the oven door quickly, so as not to let too much heat escape.


Coffee roasting oven
Listen for the “first crack”

In order to avoid charring the beans, agitate them intermittently – every minute or so – during roasting. Try not to leave the oven door open too long to avoid letting the heat escape. After about five or six minutes, you will hear the “first crack.” Technically, the coffee is now lightly roasted. Depending on how dark you like your roast, wait another minute or two, then start checking the beans for color. Use a roasted coffee you like as a guide. Once the beans begin to reach that color, you can remove them from the oven. If after 12 minutes, the beans aren’t browned yet, increase the heat to 525 degrees F.

Coffee roasting cooling
Cool the beans

Remove the beans from the oven and transfer them to a new colander or perforated tin. The beans will continue roasting in their heated vessel, so transferring them helps stop the cooking. Again, gently shake the beans or stir them with a large spoon to help the chaff (skins) fall away. You can also softly blow the chaff away.

How To Roast Coffee Beans At Home
Store the coffee

Like fine wine, for the best results you’ll want your freshly roasted coffee to breathe. Let it rest uncovered overnight, then seal it in an airtight jar and store it in a cool, dry place where the beans will be at their freshest for about a week. And not in the freezer, for god’s sake! Extreme cold can damage the oils and thus the flavors in roasted coffee. Also, the beans are porous and can absorb odors from whatever else is in your freezer.

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