In the past few years, coffee roasting has become a growing trend. People have discovered not only the deliciousness of roasted coffee but also its variety in flavors and how easy it is to roast it at home. It’s actually rather simple for a beginner to roast coffee at home and doesn’t require much effort to get started.
With just the right tools and some practice, you can make your own batch of roasted coffee beans in no time. A lot of people are intimidated by the idea of roasting their own beans because they think that it requires a complicated setup with special equipment and dangerous chemicals. Fortunately, that's not the case!
Roasting your own coffee is actually quite simple—and safe—when you know what you’re doing. If you want to enjoy a delicious cup of coffee every day, follow this beginner’s guide to roasting coffee at home.
What is Coffee Roasting?
Coffee roasting is the process of heating unroasted beans to a specific temperature in order to develop the flavor and aroma of the beans before they’re ground and brewed.
Coffee roasting can be done in a home coffee roaster, in a cast iron pan, or in an oven. Most people do not roast their own green coffee beans. Instead, they buy beans that are already roasted, or they buy unroasted beans with no intention of roasting them. However, the roasting process unlocks a level of flavor that unroasted beans cannot achieve. Although it is an extra, optional step, roasting is well worth the additional effort.
Four Stages of Roasting
There are 4 main roasting stages:
- The first stage is called the “First Crack,” which can take anywhere between 2-10 minutes depending on the coffee beans and the temperature used. It is a light roast.
- Next is the “Second Crack,” which is the end of the First Crack and when the coffee beans will start to smoke. It is a medium roast.
- The “City Roast” is when the beans start to brown and smell almost “roasted”. It is a darker roast than the Second Crack.
- The “Full Roast” is when the coffee beans turn a dark brown color and are done roasting. It is a dark roast.
It is possible to stop anywhere within the list, but getting to Full Roast means that your beans have reached peak flavor. How much you roast your beans entirely depends on your taste buds.
Why Should You Roast Your Own Beans?
There are many reasons why you should roast coffee beans at home. First and foremost, coffee is best when it’s fresh. Roasting your coffee beans at home means you’ll have fresh coffee every day without having to buy a new batch every week.
Roasted coffee beans have a much higher caffeine content than the ground beans you buy from the grocery store. The grinding process removes a lot of the caffeine and other benefits.
You can save money by roasting coffee beans at home. If you compare the cost of a pound of roasted coffee beans against a pound of unroasted beans, you’ll notice a significant difference in price. And, of course, you can customize your coffee experience by experimenting with roasting your own beans to find the flavor and roast level you like best.
Equipment Needed to Roast Coffee Beans
There are several ways to roast coffee beans, and the method that you choose makes a big difference in what supplies you need. Here is a look at what you need to roast coffee beans.
You need a cooking container of some sort. Which one you choose depends on your roasting method. You can roast beans in a cast iron skillet. You can also use an electric skillet, but it’s important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions, so you don’t accidentally overheat the beans.
If you use an oven, you can roast beans on a baking sheet or roasting pan. You can also use a cooling rack or wire cooling rack that can be placed on the baking sheet.
You can find these at any grocery or specialty store. There are many, many different options to choose from in stores and online.
There are plenty of apps and online tools that will let you know when the beans are done roasting. All you need is something to track the time for you so that you don’t forget and overcook your beans.
Cooling Rack or Newspaper
You’ll be removing the roasted beans from the pan, so you’ll need a place to put them. Choose an option that can drain and liquids away from the beans so that they dry.
This is used to scoop the roasted beans from the pan and is essential if you plan to roast more than a few pounds of beans at a time.
You’ll need bags to store the beans after they’ve been roasted. Serious roasters use canvas bags, but you can use anything that you have available.
How to Roast Coffee Beans at Home
First, be sure to select the beans you want to roast. Most beans are best roasted when they’re between 2 months and a year old. Coffee beans that are too old will have lost most of their flavor and aroma.
You can roast coffee beans using an oven, a skillet, or even some brands of popcorn poppers. The only difference between these methods is the time it will take to roast the beans.
First, you’ll need to preheat the oven to between 375°F and 400°F. Depending on the method you choose and the beans you use, you’ll roast the beans for 6-10 minutes. Place the beans into the heat source and set the time. While you are waiting, this is a good time to prep the bags and drying rack.
When finished, carefully remove the beans from the heat and place them on the rack to cool and dry. When cool to the touch, dry the beans with a paper towel or other lint-free towel, and place them in the bags. Make sure the bags are well sealed to keep the beans from growing stale.