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How To Roast Coffee Beans to Perfection

There are a variety of coffees in the world but all have one thing in common which is the roasting process. It’s highly recommended to roast your own coffee and then freshly grind it before you make your brew. There are several ways you can approach this, each with varying levels of difficulty as well as time spent actively tending to it. These methods are:

How to Pan-Roast Coffee at Home – Step by Step Guide

No process comes without any faults, in this section of the guide, we will be talking about roasting coffee in a pan, how to prepare for it, cooling the beans, and then storing them.

Overall, we like that this was clearly a low-cost approach to roasting the beans. The roast level was easy to manage, making it a decent option for beginners. However, your roast may be less even than with other methods, however, the overall flavor was still excellent.

Things You’ll Need

This is a fairly easy process so you won’t need much equipment, This is why one can easily roast coffee by using a pan at home. All you are going to need is the following items that are on our list:

Step 1 – Heat Up Your Skillet

If you’re using Costa Rican beans, keep in mind that you’ll need to stir them thoroughly owing to their small size. If you don’t want the beans to stick flat side down in the skillet and roast unevenly, place your skillet on the stove and turn the heat to medium.

Allow the pan to heat for about a minute before adding your beans and starting to roast. If you go for medium heat, it will slow down the roasting thus yielding a lighter roast.

However, it can be taken to a darker roast if you keep it on the heat for a while longer. But, this is a bit risky as it can over-roast and start taking that woody, almost ashy aftertaste with most of the gasses escaping the beans and leaving just bitterness behind.

Step 2 – Drop Your Unroasted Beans

Now you can add your unroasted beans to the pan after heating it up properly. It is recommended that you begin stirring the beans as soon as you pour them into the pan. Throughout the roasting process, the stirring will be continuous. This ensures that the beans roast evenly and consistently.

It’s recommended to roast only the amount of beans that cover the pan. What I mean is that no beans should be laid on top of other beans, they each need to be touching the pan to get roasted. Avoid heaps of beans, adjust as you go, the first couple of seconds don’t decide much.

Step 3 – Stir Constantly

We recommend using a metal whisk, which will do a great job of constantly moving the beans around. It’s a long process, so even at the three-minute point, the coloration of your beans wouldn’t have changed much.

Fast forward to the nine-minute mark, and we’ve just reached what’s known as the first crack, which is a term that describes a faint popping noise that you’ll hear from the beans. This indicates that you have achieved a mild roast.

The time it takes to roast your beans will depend on the temperature you choose and what type of roast you want it to be.

A light roast will take around 25-30 minutes on medium heat, and around 15 minutes on high heat

A medium roast will take around 35-40 minutes to roast on medium heat, and around 20-25 minutes on high heat.

A dark roast will take around 45-50 minutes on medium heat, and around 30 minutes on high heat.

Also, note that a longer roasting time pretty much removes most of the gasses from the beans, so don’t be surprised if it doesn’t immediately smell like a fresh cup of coffee.

Step 4 – Cool it Down ASAP

Once you’re done roasting it’s very important that you cool the beans down immediately. Why? Because they sort of behave like a steak. Once removed from the heat, they are still warm and therefore continue the roasting process. So if you’re aiming for a medium roast, and don’t cool your beans down immediately, you may end up with a dark roast.

Roughly two minutes after the beans have reached the desired roast, you should transfer them to a metal colander and whisk them outside to cool and remove any remaining chaff. You should then transfer your cooled beans to a zip-top bag, making sure to remove all excess air because exposure to oxygen will cause the beans to go stale very quickly. Finally, you should place your beans on the countertop to degas.

Degassing is when the beans emit carbon dioxide after roasting. You should wait at least 24 hours before grinding them to allow them to partially degas and fully develop their taste.

The best way to reduce the temperature is to put them in some kind of bowl and let them float in iced water. A small fan can do the trick too but will take a bit longer than the first option. Taking it outside and kind of shaking it up in a bowl works well too but may take some time and be a bit tiring.

Step 5 – Sift the Roasted Beans

Once cooled down, or even during the cooling process, you can toss the beans around in a sifter or a metal bowl to help them lose their shag (think of it like peeling an onion or garlic basically).

Once you’ve removed most of the shag, you can then let it cool all the way down and prepare to grind.

How to Oven-Roast Coffee Beans

We have already discussed how to roast coffee beans with a pan and a skillet. The next method we will be talking about is also manageable to do at home as you can already guess by the name.

Professional coffee roasters use machines that track every step of the process, including the initial temperature, temperature ascent, first and second crack timers, and coffee cooling stations. We can also do that with an oven!

Things You’ll Need

The following items on the list are the things you will absolutely need in order to achieve your goal of roasting the coffee beans to perfection.

Step 1 – Preheat The Oven to 460 Degrees

Firstly, what you want to do is make sure your oven is clean and safe to use. After doing so you can start heating the oven to 460 degrees. This is a crucial part of the process.

Roasting coffee should take about ten to fifteen minutes depending on your oven. If your roasting time is longer than the mentioned length of time, raise the oven temperature by 25 degrees Fahrenheit for your next roasting process.

Coffee that takes longer than the mentioned time to roast has a bland flavor and is referred to as “baked” rather than “roasted.”

It’s best if you preheat the tray you’re going to be using for the roasting process as well. It helps get things started the moment the beans hit the oven rather than gradually heating inside, which can then affect the final product.

Step 2 – Lay Out Your Beans as Evenly as Possible

What you want to do next is take your coffee beans and lay them out evenly. By doing so you will make the roasting process more productive as the heat will be evenly distributed to your coffee beans.

This will mostly depend on the tray you’re using but in my case, around 1 pound or 16 ounces of coffee beans were enough to cover the whole tray area without creating a big heap.

Step 3 – Set a Timer for 10 Minutes and Start Listening

Now that you have already done the manual part of the coffee roasting process you can just put the tray in and set a timer for about ten minutes and just start listening to the roasting process. This is a crucial part of the experience and you should be highly attentive to your beans.

Make sure to turn on ventilation first.

At around the 5 minutes mark, you will start to hear some popping noises, which is what we call the “first crack”. It sounds a bit muffled, sort of like popcorn popping under a closed lid, but with a larger force. It happens with just a few beans and gradually becomes faster. That’s good, it means you’re on track. However, at around the 9-10 minute mark, you will start to hear the crackling start again, this time beans will pop kind of in unison. This means that the roasting process is approaching its end.

At around the 10-11 minute mark is when you should stop your roasting process if you want it to be a light roast. But be very very careful here, a minute too much and your coffee can turn to dark roast in the oven. It happens much quicker than in a pan.

Step 4 – Take Out Your Tray and Start Cooling

The next step is pretty self-explanatory. You can do it pretty much the exact same way as the pan-roasted version. Either put it in an ice bath to cool it very fast or use a hand-held fan. You can also take it outside and stir it around a bit.

Step 5 – Sift the Beans To de-shag a Bit

You may toss the beans around in a sifter or a metal dish once they’ve cooled down to help them shed their shag.

Once you’ve removed the majority of the shag, let it cool completely before grinding.

How to Roast The Beans With a Dedicated Roaster

This process is pretty simple and nothing too complicated, you just need to follow the steps listed below. But before that, here’s the list of things you are going to need:

Once you have all these ingredients at home, it’s time to start the roasting process which looks something like this:

  1. Measure your coffee with a scale.
  2. Turn on your coffee roaster machine.
  3. Put the setting on 400 degrees – the heating process should not take more than 10 minutes.
  4. Once the machine is heated, start adding your beans to it.
  5. The beans might have trouble turning for the first few minutes, for the simple fact that they are too hot – you don’t have to worry about that.
  6. You have to leave beans inside the machine for about 20 minutes.
  7. 15 minutes into the roast, you will see some smoke coming up from the machine and feel a strong smell of burning – The smell is normal.
  8. After 20 minutes, you need to cool the beans quickly.
  9. Transfer your beans to a metal bowl.
  10. Keep shaking the bowl to get rid of the shells, and let the beans cool.
  11. Once the beans are rid of the shells, your coffee is ready for the brewing process.

Check Out the Best Coffee Roasters Here!

Roasting Coffee on an Open Fire – Is it a Good Idea?

In my personal opinion, roasting coffee on an open fire is not really a good idea, but if you’re okay with drinking liquid ash, then it may be for you.

Things You’ll Need

Step 1 – Start the Fire

So the first and the most important part is starting the fire. You can use different types of wood here, like cherry or apple, but don’t expect it to do too much with the taste. It is important to keep in mind that with this method, controlling the heat of the fire is pretty much impossible. I’d recommend you let the wood just burn off and just use the charcoal as the source of heat. That will produce a better roast compared to open fire.

Step 2 – Make a Pocket and Pour the Beans

I’ve seen most people just pour the beans directly into the fire, which then makes them hard to retrieve. From my personal experience, it is always a better idea to make a small pocket in the center of the charcoal and pour the beans there.

Step 3 – Wait for 5-8 minutes

For the next step, you might be wondering how much time is enough for the beans to roast? It pretty much depends on which type of roast you prefer – light, medium, or dark. Considering the fact that the fire is much hotter than an oven, it’s best to retrieve the beans as fast as possible and don’t leave them in the fire for a long time.

At around the 5-minute mark, most beans will have taken a light roast and at around 6-7 minutes it’s a medium roast, and at 8 minutes it’s a dark roast. Controlling the time is pretty important as you don’t want your beans to burn, right?

Step 4 – Cool the Beans With a Strong Fan

The next step is to cool the beans with a strong fan. This step is crucial to the overall process, as, without cooling, your beans might continue roasting and become useless. It’s recommended to use a fan for cooling fire-roasted beans because it will help remove any remaining ash as well.

Step 5 – Sift and Toss Your Beans

The cooling process involves sifting and tossing your beans. For this, use a sifter or a bowl with holes and shake vigorously. Here, we are not only trying to get the shag off but also the remaining ash that may have stayed after the cooling process.

Step 6 – Grind and Enjoy

After the roasting process is done, it is time to grind the beans and enjoy your coffee. However, it is important to note that an open fire roast is like flash-roasting the coffee, which can make it extremely bitter, and if it’s a light roast, then it is going to be pretty acidic as well. It is best to grind these beans as a coarse grind so that the flavor is not so intense that you can barely keep it in your mouth. A coarse grind makes it a bit more watery than a fine grind but still helps keep the smoky flavor.

Check Our List of Top Burr Grinders Here!

How to Use a Popcorn Popper to Roast Coffee at Home

Have you ever heard of roasting coffee with popcorn poppers? Well, if not, then you should know that it is perfectly possible. In fact, you don’t even need a special coffee machine – Roasting coffee can be done in any popcorn popper that has a metal popping chamber and a side vent.

Keep in mind that roasting coffee with this machine can be quite loud and smoky, so it might be a good idea to choose an outdoor space. If you are doing it at home, do the roasting by the window.

So, what are the things that you need? Check the list below:

Things You’ll Need

Step 1 – Preheat the Popper for 1 Minute

You should start the process by preheating the popper. It takes no more than 1 minute and in the meantime, you can weigh 50 grams of green coffee beans with your scale. Preheating the machine helps start the roasting process the moment the beans hit the surface.

Step 2 – Drop the Coffee Beans in The Popper

The amount mostly depends on the type of popcorn popper you’re using. If yours is a bigger version then you can add more beans to it. However, it is important to not add too much.

Step 3 – Roast for 4-5-6 Minutes

Your goal is to turn green or raw coffee into brown roasted coffee. The roasting time should not take more than 6 minutes. The time depends on which type of coffee you desire to have. For instance, at the 4-minute mark, your beans will be a light roast. At the 5 minute mark, they should be a medium roast, and at the 6-minute mark, they should be a dark roast.

Step 4 – Grind and Enjoy

The last important thing after you finish roasting with the popcorn popper is to cool down the beans very quickly as they are really hot after finishing and you need to cool them down so they don’t continue baking and developing unpleasant flavors. Once the cooling down is done, you can let it rest for a few hours – After that, it will be possible for you to start the brewing process and enjoy your cup of coffee!

So… Is Roasting Coffee at Home Worth It?

Yes! The time and work it takes to roast your own coffee beans might be well worth it for individuals who prioritize freshness and flavor over everything else. Even though it takes some time and effort, the end product is worth it for sure. The freshly roasted aroma of coffee is something truly different, you’d never even guess what coffee can taste like when it’s freshly roasted.

Frequently Asked Questions on Roasting Coffee At Home

How long does it take to roast coffee beans?

What is the best way to roast coffee beans?

How do you add flavor to coffee bean roast?

What are the three basic degrees of coffee roasting?

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