How do I get started in roasting my own beans at home?

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I'd like to experiment with roasting my own beans at home.

I'd like to keep the equipment requirements as basic as possible. No fancy gizmos or machines. I have a gas stove.

jevonearth

Posted 2015-01-28T21:27:09.910

Reputation: 882

Answers

14

There are several ways to roast your own coffee at home on low budget:

Pan

This is one of the extremely minimalistic ways to roast coffee, but the degree of complexity is very high as the coffee beans need constant attention due to the nature of the heat that arrises only from one side.

Oven

This is likely one of the most common ways to roast coffee at home and a significant step up from the pan, hence the heat is more homogenous. You are still required to mix the coffee now and then hence the plate usually becomes hotter than the upper part of the coffee beans while in the oven.

Popcorn machine

This is likely the best method to use at home, but also very messy as the chaff is likely to twirl around while the coffee is being roasted. A method for catching the chaff could be a simple filter that can tolerate heat or a oversized strainer.

Roasting tips

  • Never leave the coffee while roasting, the process can escalate very quickly and turn your beans into coal
  • Cool down your beans quickly after the roasting process, do not leave it on the heat source
  • Coffee generates chaff which has to be disposed, this is usually a pain when roasting in the oven and pan.
  • Use a thermometer so you can log the roasting time and duration for analysis.
  • Roasting can generate a lot of smoke so either roast outside, near a window or use ventilation.

JavaCake

Posted 2015-01-28T21:27:09.910

Reputation: 994

14

By far the easiest way to start at home roasting is with a hot air popcorn popper. You can get a used one for $5 at a thrift store or pay approximately $20 new for one. Or perhaps you already have an unused one laying around. There are also people and websites out there showing you great ways to modify or make them better with cheap addon parts or hacks.

I started with one and after I decided I was hooked I spent the money on a commercial made roaster, but I learned most of what I know with a hot air popper in my front yard. I think the biggest issue for stove top roasting is the smoke. If you don't have great ventilation in your house over your stove, accidental overroasts and dark roasts become a major problem.

Chris_in_AK

Posted 2015-01-28T21:27:09.910

Reputation: 5 767

2Good answer, +1. Might be good to note that the popcorn popper probably shouldn't be used for popcorn after it's been used for coffee. ;) – Alex A. – 2015-01-29T02:11:45.007

4

Sweet Maria's is a good place to start: Sweet Maria's Coffee Library.

They've got quite a bit of information on the coffee roasting process as well as suggestions on hot air roasters and methods.

Personally- I'd skip the stovetop roasting and the oven roasting. It's useful in so much as you learn the major stages of coffee roast development (color shifts / smells / cracks) but it's EXTREMELY hard to roast coffee evenly, which means you'll learn enough to be quickly dissatisfied with roasting this way.

A hot air popper is a really good place to start. I had a hard time getting consistent roasts (and didn't want to get into modding right away), but the quality was so much better than anything I could do in/on the stove. You can get one on Amazon for ~$25...

Justin

Posted 2015-01-28T21:27:09.910

Reputation: 134

2

I roast the coffee I grow in a cast iron skillet over wood or gas. Stir continuously. When they start to crackle you know you are getting close. As you stir blow out the chaff, either with your lungs or some other tool.

Alex

Posted 2015-01-28T21:27:09.910

Reputation: 229

Honestly, this is not an opinion-based question. I don't know, you put it it first person. Preferably, give the easiest description possible to sort it all out. The crackling noise in a city is really inconspicuous, so to say. – therewillbecoffee – 2015-01-31T16:37:58.100

1

One method not mentioned, but is similar to the others, is using a heat gun. This gives you a bit more control over the beans and roast than when using a popcorn maker or oven, and is fairly cheap. more info: https://ineedcoffee.com/roasting-coffee-with-a-heat-gun-a-top-down-approach/

sleep_debt

Posted 2015-01-28T21:27:09.910

Reputation: 21

1

Don't waste your time with any kind of stove top roasting, not only because you can't control the process well enough to get consistent results, but also because the smell and smoke will be too obnoxious and your spouse/roommate will hate you for it. Also don't waste your time with any kind of hot air popper that isn't specifically designed for roasting coffee. Again, too many uncontrollable variables that will sabotage your best efforts without extensive customization or instrumentation.

The least expensive, most reliable starter method is to buy a hot air (fluidized bed) roaster specifically designed for roasting coffee. I have a Fresh Roast SR500 that has served me well for a couple of years. I've gotten to the point to where I am able to produce consistently excellent coffee at exactly the roast level I want. Even with a dedicated coffee roaster it took me a couple of months to trial-and-error my way to anything drinkable. Reading a couple of online home roasting forums has helped immensely but trying any of that without a proper roaster would have been a waste of time. I've added a digital thermometer to my setup so I can actually see what's going on temperature wise in the roasting chamber, but other than that it just the stock setup. Total cost is less than $200 and that's gotten me two years worth of great coffee.

If you decide it's not for you, you wouldn't have too much trouble selling it online for not too much less than your purchase price. On the other hand, if you turn out to get hooked on home roasting, like me, you'll wish the thing would hurry up and die so you can go out and spend a lot more for a serious drum roaster. :-))

PJNoes

Posted 2015-01-28T21:27:09.910

Reputation: 1 002