A passion for coffee starts with a passion for beans. Are you wondering how to roast coffee beans at home? Roasting coffee beans at home can be a very satisfying and fun adventure for your senses.
What Are the Benefits of Roasting Coffee Beans at Home?
Freshness is the big factor that inspires many coffee lovers to roast their beans at home. Unfortunately, the roasted beans that you buy from the store or local coffee shop may have been sitting around on the shelf for quite a while. You always know the roasting date if you're the one that roasted your beans!
Is It a Good Idea to Roast My Own Coffee Beans at Home?
Anyone seeking freshness from their coffee experience should consider roasting at home. Of course, there is one slight downside to the freshness of home-roasted beans. The beans you roast will only be in optimal flavor condition during the first few days after roasting.
What does that mean for you? You're probably going to want to get through each batch of roasted beans as quickly as you can to enjoy the full flavor potential. In addition, you may need to make frequent small batches to keep up with your needs.
There isn't just one way to roast beans at home. In fact, learning how to roast beans at home means that you can use creativity and flair to recreate the artisan bean varieties found at coffee shops. There are six main roast varieties to create at home that will satisfy your tastes for both light and rich blends.
We will be discussing how to adjust your roasting technique to get the roast style you desire when drinking coffee. Your roasting duration will actually determine the type of roast you create at home. Here's what will be covered:
- City roast (426 degrees Fahrenheit).
- Full city roast (437 degrees Fahrenheit).
- Vienna roast (446 degrees Fahrenheit).
- French roast (464 degrees Fahrenheit).
- Italian roast (473 degrees Fahrenheit).
- Spanish roast (482 degrees Fahrenheit).
You'll soon learn that timing really is everything when it comes to roasting coffee beans at home. Of course, we'll also cover how to avoid the dreaded “burnt” roast that can occur if your timing isn't perfectly measured. Let's begin by discussing all of the things you'll need to gather to be ready for your roasting pursuits!
Here's How to Roast Coffee Beans at Home
You're almost on your way to being a master roaster! The first step to roasting beans at home is sourcing the perfect beans! How can you do this?
You actually have a number of options when it comes to roasting beans at home. You can simply purchase beans from your local grocery or specialty store to use in your roasting adventures. Many people choose to order raw beans (see Amazon) in bulk from online stores.
Take some time to source beans based on type, quality and pricing. Don't be afraid to ask for samples from vendors before you commit to a bean order. This is especially important if you plan to place a bulk order for raw coffee beans.
What Type of Coffee Bean Is the Best to Roast at Home?
You have total freedom to create your own signature blend when roasting and grinding your beans at home. Robusta, Liberica and Arabica are all good options. You can also mix various sub-bean types to create a roast that's all your own!
It's always a good idea to become familiar with different options for raw beans if you're new to roasting. Feel free to begin by sampling several different bean types to get a grasp on what's out there. You may find that you develop strong preferences for one or two bean types after sampling several options.
The Steps to Roasting Coffee Beans at Home
While roasting coffee beans at home is easy, you will need to have some equipment ready. The first big decision you're going to need to make is the method you want to use for roasting. Here's a look at your options for what to use during the roasting process:
As you can see, you have plenty of room for do-it-yourself hacks while roasting coffee at home. It is possible to purchase a special machine for the task. Many people have just as much success by simply using items that are already in their kitchens for other purposes.
The first step to roasting beans at home is to simply get whatever tool you're going to use for roasting out in front of you. You should also take a minute to set aside a large metal bowl, an oven glove and a long wooden spoon. Just make sure the spoon is long enough to reach over to stir the beans while they're on or in whatever you're using as a “popper.”
It's now time to begin the roasting process. Start by dumping the raw beans on or in your roasting apparatus. You should then turn up the heat to just below its highest setting.
You may only be used to seeing coffee beans that have already been roasted. It's important to remember that the raw beans you've purchased will not look like that when you take them out of their packaging. Raw coffee beans have a green hue that actually changes color several times during the roasting process before reaching that dark tone we are all familiar with when purchasing beans.
The first thing you'll notice as the heat builds up is that your beans change from a green color to a slightly yellow color. This is perfectly normal! The beans will eventually make the transition from yellow to a shade of light brown.
The stage where beans begin to turn brown is also the stage where you will begin to hear cracking sounds. Most people compare the sound that coffee beans make while being roasted to the sound of popcorn popping. However, the cracking sound that you hear actually serves as a very important signal in the roasting process!
The sound of the “first crack” means that you are able to see the first chaff rise to the surface. The chaff is actually the husk that covers a raw coffee bean. The chaffs of your beans should begin to peel off and rise at this stage.
The chaffs that you see may simply “float” away on their own if you're using something like a popcorn popper. However, you may need to physically blow them away if you're using a flat roasting surface. Always be careful about keeping a distance between your skin and the heat when trying to remove chaffs.
You're really on your way to perfectly roasted beans if you're at the stage where your chaffs are falling away on their own. However, there are several more stages left to go if you want to create specific roasting flavors! It should be stated that you'll experience a number of smells and sounds during the roasting process.
What can you expect to hear and smell when roasting coffee beans at home? Expect a “grassy” smell during the phase when your beans are turning from green to yellow. Many people really enjoy this natural smell.
What happens if you see a lot of steam while roasting your coffee beans? This is perfectly normal. Coffee beans often let off steam as the water content they contain begins to dissipate under the pressure of the heat.
We already discussed that “first crack” you're going to hear before your beans turn from yellow to brown. You should also begin to experience fragrant aromas coming from the steam that is created at this stage. However, more exciting things are yet to come!
The cracking sounds and fragrances that can be experienced at this point signal that some exciting things are happening behind the scenes. The sugar content, water content and oils of the beans are now migrating out of the beans. The “first crack” that you hear actually tells you that the roasting has technically taken place.
Yes, you can consider yourself done after you hear the first crack if you like the flavor of what is commonly known as a city roast. Most people choose not to stop at this point. Continuing will create a richer, darker flavor.
Waiting until the second crack creates what is known as the full city roast. Some people are happy with this somewhat light roast. You actually create a different roast flavor entirely if you keep the beans on the heat for a few extra pops.
Keeping your beans on the heat until that next crack creates what’s known as a Vienna roast. It's important to take just a moment to build in a reminder about safety while roasting. You will notice that things are becoming very hot by this point!
Keep in mind that pursuing longer roast times to achieve darker roasts means that extra vigilance is required. Roasting all the way through to darker roasts means that pops can get a little violent. There is always the potential that a piece of bean could separate and pop up toward you.
A bean that separates and blows away could effectively act like a nasty piece of shrapnel. Make sure your eyes and face are fully protected while you roast. This becomes even more important as we move toward the final roasting flavors.
The dark roasts come next! You're going to notice a very dark color and pungent odor once you get to this stage. Those characteristics are caused by the intense burning of the natural sugars inside the bean.
The structure of your beans will continue to break down as you wait for a second crack to be summoned once you're in the dark territory. The end of the second crack signals that you have achieved a French roast. It is now time to act very quickly.
Make sure you're removing your beans from the heat as soon as you hear that second crack signaling a French roast. Leaving the beans longer will turn your roast into an Italian roast. An Italian roast is actually a slightly darker, oilier version of the French roast.
Some people leave their dark roast going just a little longer after the Italian roast to reach a Spanish roast. A Spanish roast will take you as close to charred as possible without ruining your batch. Unfortunately, going too far means that your beans could be ruined if you're not careful.
What happens once your beans have reached the desired roasting level? It will now be time to cool and store them. Let's take a look at how that's done.
Roasting Coffee in a Skillet
Roasting coffee in a Popcorn popper
Oven Roasting Green Coffee Beans
How to Cool Coffee Beans After the Roasting Process
It is now time to cool your beans after you've removed them from the heat! Beans actually need 24 hours to cool after roasting is done. Lay them out on any surface where they will be safe to cool.
It typically takes a few hours to cool beans fully following the roasting process. Keep in mind that they are going to be very hot at first. You should avoid trying to dry your beans on any surface that is capable of melting or being damaged by heat.
Check back in a few hours to see if your beans are cooled. The next step is to transfer your beans to a storage container. The container you use should be an air-tight container like this.
There's one very important tip to know about when transferring your beans to an air-tight storage container. You shouldn't actually seal the lid fully when you close it on your beans. There is a small chance that one of your newly roasted coffee beans could explore if you do this!
Can coffee beans really explode after being roasted? This is no myth! It turns out that the carbon dioxide that is released from your beans could actually trickle out to cause an “explosion” in whatever container you use if it is sealed too tightly.
What Happens Now?
Give your beans a little time to settle down in their new container before taking the next step. The next step is to simply grind your beans to the coarseness level you prefer for the type of coffee drink you intend to make. Beans can be ground in one batch or on a per-cup basis.
Is It Worth the Effort to Roast Coffee Beans at Home?
There's no denying that roasting your own coffee beans requires extra steps. Of course, this is exactly what many people love about the experience. Roasting your own beans at home allows you to be connected to your coffee experience in a new way!
What If I Don't Like the Results of Roasting Coffee at Home?
There's no guarantee that your first batch of home-roasted beans is going to be perfect. Technique, timing, equipment and bean quality can all play roles in the final outcome. It's important to think of your first roasting experience as an experience.
It's probably a good idea to start with the lightest roast possible when roasting beans at home for the first time. This will help to ensure that your beans are useable even if you miss the signal to remove them from heat at the first crack. Starting with a light roast simply gives you more wiggle room for learning how to time the roasting process.
Darker roasts should be avoided until you're confident in your roasting ability. Unfortunately, a batch of beans could be ruined if you make a misstep when trying to achieve a French roast. In addition, the high heat level that is reached during this roasting style could be overwhelming if it's your first time roasting coffee beans at home.
Related Article: WHY ARE COFFEE BEANS ROASTED?
Frequently Asked Questions About Roasting Coffee Beans at Home
Is It Dangerous to Roast Coffee Beans at Home?
It is generally safe to roast coffee beans at home as long as you're paying attention to the heat levels. Never remove your eyes from your beans or leave the room during the roasting process. You should also wear some protective gear for your eyes and hands while roasting.
What Should You Wear When Roasting Coffee Beans at Home?
It's important to protect your eyes and skin when roasting beans at home. Make sure your extremities are covered by long sleeves. It is also recommended that you wear gloves and goggles while roasting beans at home.
How Long Do Roasted Coffee Beans Stay Fresh?
The recommendation is to use your freshly roasted coffee beans within five days if you want to experience optimal flavor and freshness. Of course, your beans will still technically be good after that five-day window. A batch can realistically be kept for up to 20 days.
How Many Beans Should I Roast When Roasting Beans at Home?
You should only roast as many beans as you think you'll be able to use during the five-day window for freshness. The exact amount you'll need will depend on your routine coffee consumption. However, the main rule to follow when measuring out your beans for roasting is that one pound of raw beans equals about 32 cups of brewed coffee.
What Is the Most Delicious Coffee to Roast at Home?
This is really a matter of personal preference. Many people who are new to roasting enjoy a city or Vienna roast. Experienced roasters often have success with creating full-bodied French roasts at home.