Why drive to Starbucks for a cup of coffee when you can learn how to roast coffee beans yourself?
Roasting coffee isn't as hard as it seems. You can become a coffee connoisseur in no time!
Don't fret if you have no idea where to start. Follow our guide below to learn all you need to know about roasting coffee beans:
- Get the Right Beans
Learning how to roast coffee beans starts by getting the right beans. Look for green coffee beans for sale. You might find a few options locally but it's better to look online since you can get a wider variety.
You may want to get green coffee beans that originated from mountain farms. Higher altitudes lead to lower temperatures. This environment can slow down the growth of the beans, ensuring the beans develop better.
Also, keep in mind that beans expand and lose weight as they roast. If you buy a small, 2 lbs. of green beans you can expect to end up with a large batch of roasted beans that only weigh a pound or so.
- DIY Roasting Options
You have two options when it comes to roasting coffee beans in your home. The first option is the DIY route. You can use anything from a popcorn popper to a skillet on a stovetop.
Keep in mind you'll have to manually check the beans as they roast if you go down this route. There are no indicators regarding temperature or time so this might take some practice to get right. Don't worry, we'll give you a few tips below.
- Buying a Countertop Roaster
If you don't have a popcorn popper or if you want something made for coffee bean roasting, get a countertop roaster. You don't need the giant ones used for commercial coffee manufacturing or coffee shops. These can cost from $120 to a little under $200, depending on the brand, maximum load, and type of roaster.
Why buy a roaster? First off, they rotate the beans. This ensures the beans heat up evenly.
Roasters also allow you to control the temperature better. You can control how hot and how quickly you'll roast the beans. This means you can quit roasting right after the first crack or keep going for a darker, richer roast.
- How to Roast Coffee Beans
For general roasting, set the temperature to 356 F to 401 F (180 C to 205 C). Coffee bean roasting can go anywhere from 10 minutes to nearly 20 minutes.
This depends on how many beans you're roasting simultaneously and the kind of roast you're aiming for. Let's dive into the different steps of roasting coffee beans:
During the initial few minutes of roasting, the coffee beans will go from green to yellow. You'll eventually see steam as the water in the beans evaporate.
You'll then hear the beans crack. This is the first crack and some refer to this as a cinnamon roast. This is not a full roast yet and the beans may still taste a bit bitter.
Go a little further and you'll reach a City Roast.
After the first crack, the beans will begin to caramelize. At this point, you've achieved a City Roast Plus. If you go further, allowing the sugars to caramelize more, the beans will start expanding.
By this point, you'll reach a Full City Roast. The roasts within this caramelization period are the most common. All of these fall under the “light roast” label.
Keep in mind that light roast coffee offers more health benefits than dark roast coffee. The latter, however, has a stronger flavor.
You can stop with a light roast but if you keep going beyond that you'll hear a second crack. You're now entering the range of medium roasts.
Keep an eye on your coffee beans at this point. It's easy to end up with overcooked beans. You don't want to wait for the beans to get too dark.
If you wait a bit after the second crack, you'll reach a Full City Roast Plus. This type of roast brings out the full intensity of the beans' flavor. There is one more stage after this but it requires a careful eye and practice.
If you stretch the roasting period beyond a Full City Roast Plus, the beans will start to break down. They'll darken and you'll burn the sugars to the upper limit, keeping all the rich flavor.
Dark roast coffee migrates the oil within the beans. This is a French roast and it's easy to make a mistake. Some people love dark roast beans but you might want to practice by hitting a Fully City Roast Plus first.
If you wait a bit too long, you'll hit the final stage.
Roasting the beans beyond a French roast will lead to overcooked beans. They'll essentially turn to charcoal. If you try to use these to brew a cup fo coffee, you'll only get black, charcoal-filled water.
You'll know when the beans burn when the aroma goes from pungent to crisp and heavy. It's the same smell you get when burning paper or charcoal, terrible and painful to the senses.
If you don't want to end up with a large batch of charcoal, practice cupping. This is the act of testing different roasts.
Get a handful of beans and attempt to hit a particular type of roast, say a City Roast Plus. Make sure you note down everything, from the time it took to hit that roast to the number of beans used and the temperature. Brew a cup with this and check how it tastes.
Label this as one set. Every time you want that kind of cup, follow the conditions of that set. Do this for every roast type you like.
Start Roasting Coffee Beans Today!
Learning how to roast coffee beans isn't difficult. It only requires time, patience, and practice. You don't even need an expensive roasting machine if you use a skillet or a popcorn popper!
Getting the perfect cup of coffee doesn't end with a good roast, however. Fortunately, we've got more guides to help you learn how to brew and get the most out of your beans. Feel free to read our other posts today!