How To Get Started Roasting Coffee At Home | A Beginners Guide

This post will definitely answer the question of how you can get started roasting your own coffee beans at home.

How To Get Started Roasting Coffee At Home | A Beginners GuideIt will provide all the information you need to move you forward from kicking the idea around to actually doing it.

Kudos to you for considering or actually making the decision roast your own coffee beans at home.

First off, let me say that I am not an expert coffee roaster by any means. But not too long ago I got started on the road of roasting my own coffee beans. To be honest, I recently retired and was looking for a fun, home hobby. I love my coffee and decided that roasting my own would be just the ticket. I wish I knew then what I know now.

The purpose of this post is to shorten any learning curve that you might have. I also want to point you in the direction of making the necessary decisions in the proper order. Getting set up to roast your coffee beans is actually more difficult than roasting them.

But the beauty is once you are actually set up and have your equipment together roasting coffee beans is a snap. It is really easy to do it does not take much time at all. Also, the fruits of your labor are extremely enjoyable.

It’s A Fact: You can make this hobby; as simple or as complicated as you like. Your goal could be to produce a good cup of coffee that you enjoy, or to become a coffee connoisseur with desires or sharing your passion with others. I can flat out guaranteed that owners of individual specialty coffee shops and cafés all started out as home coffee roasters.

 

If you happen to be an passionate coffee lover, there could not be a better way to enjoy a cup of coffee than brewing coffee beans on your own. And making coffee out of these self-roasted beans would be a fulfilling experience.

There are number different ways to roast coffee at home and one of the first decisions you will make will be which method is best for you. That will dictate a certain amount of the equipment you will need. There are some basic pieces of equipment that everyone who rose coffee utilizes. We will explain later exactly what they are.

A good number of home coffee roasters are now available and are quite easy to operate. You can buy home one such roaster to enjoy the perfect cup of coffee with self brewed and roasted coffee beans. Every morning you can roast beans as per your requirement and enjoy the mug full of coffee with your desired taste. What a fantastic way to greet the day!

Next up, understanding the process of roasting coffee at home.

“All you need to roast coffee is a heat source and the coffee beans.”

Roasting Coffee Beans At Home

What Happens During The Process Of Roasting Coffee Beans? How Do I Do It?

Roasting coffee beans is as simple as adding heat to the beans themselves. Simple, but not necessarily easy. Let’s start with some basic knowledge.
Coffee grows on trees that produce what is known as “coffee cherries”. At the appropriate time these are picked in process to get at the “coffee seed” which lies within. Those seeds are actual coffee beans.

Those beans are then processed and dried in different ways. Part of the processing is to sort them, grade them, We then have green coffee beans ready for roasting.

The Easy Answer Is: We are simply applying heat to move the uncooked green coffee being to its final stage of doneness. The amount of heat applied and time of roast will determine strength and flavor of the finished product.

 

As home roasters we are basically going to “cook” the coffee beans by adding heat in various ways. Green coffee beans need to be heated to temperatures between 460°F-530°F(240°C-275°C) to get the ‘roast’ . That is REALLY hot. Changing them from a green to a brown color. When the coffee beans are properly roasted will grind them up at half water filter and enjoy a great cup of coffee.

Home roasting methods and machines are simply different decisiveness and methodology that allow you to roast green coffee beans and produce brown coffee beans. The amount of roasting applied to the coffee beans affects their color, taste, and the amount of chemical reactions that occurred within the bean.

Knowing when to stop the roast is an integral part of the acquired knowledge of roasting. As the bean moves from light tan to dark brown flavor characteristics will be different at each stage.

Since this is a beginner’s guide, I am not going to get into the chemical reactions that occur within the beans. I’m sure commercial roasters and scientists are very interested in this. For our purposes we are really going to concentrate simply on temperature and color.

Okay, now that we have the basic concept in mind – we’re going to take green beans and roasts them into cooked brown beans. Let’s take a look at the various ways to do that.

Select Your Own Home Coffee Bean Roasting Process.

In this section I’m going to weigh out a few common coffee roasting strategies you can use it home. I will go into each in detail in later sections. But for right now, let’s just get a feel of the options that are available. Coffee roasting does not have to be an expensive proposition in order to get started.

We want to determine three things:

  • Your available budget.
  • Your willingness to participate in the process.
  • How often and how much coffee do you want to roast?

You might want to ask and answer a few quick questions to help you make your selection:

  1. Is budget a factor in your equipment selection?Bear in mind, there is some basic equipment every roaster should have. So calculate the cost of the basics plus your roasting method. Then determine how much are you willing to spend.
  2. How willing are you to be involved in the process? Are you willing to stand there and “stir the pot” during the process or are you more of a “pushbutton” type of person?
  3. How often are you willing to roast? Some roasting methods lend themselves to smaller batches in some to larger batches. My particular roaster will produce 3 to 4 ounces per roast, but there are others that can produce up to a pound per roast.

Basic Coffee Roasting Equipment Everybody Needs:

  • Colander or tray for cooling
  • Timer – with a seconds function (I use my IPhone) time all your roasts until first crack, and for total time.
  • Digital Scale, take before and after weights.
  • Hot Mitts
  • Proper Storage Container
  • Wooden Spoon (or long handle metal spoon)


Here Are The Coffee Roasting Methods And Equipment We Will Be Looking At:

Roasting Coffee Beans With A Heat Gun.

Advantages -The equipment cost to get started is very low. It’s possible to roast large batches from 6 ounces up to 16 ounces. The quality of the roasted beans will be entirely dependent on your skill. You get even roasting, and can immediately stop the roast at any given point. Disadvantages – This must be done outdoors due to blown debris and smoke production. It is very difficult to replicate results from batch to batch. You will be in constant attendance for 10 to 15 minutes holding the heat gun and simultaneously stirring and agitating the beans either roasting or cooling.

Roasting Coffee In A Skillet, Frying Pan or Wok.

AdvantagesThe equipment cost to get started is very low, you probably already have a suitable pan. You can stop the process at any time immediately by pouring the beans into a colander for cooling. Great visibility of the beans during the process of roasting DisadvantagesYou will be in constant attendance, do not even think about walking away – think fire in your home.. Almost all pan roasters recommend using smaller coffee beans (ideally peaberry, which cost more), this limits the type of coffee you can successfully roast with this method. This will make a mess and produce smoke. Hard to duplicate results.

Roasting Coffee Beans With A Popcorn Maker

Advantages – moderately low price for equipment. Increased safety factor. The blower agitates the popcorn in your roasting with hot air rather than the beans being in contact with a hot surface as in the previous methods. Results can be easily duplicated from batch to batch – consistency. Consistent heat and agitation to the coffee beans, only regulation needed is the timing. Disadvantagesit is critical to purchase the correct popcorn Popper, they can be difficult to find. The chaff is blown about and will make a mess. Only suggested use is outdoors or on a porch or patio.

Roasting Coffee Beans With A Whirley Pop

The Whirley Pop popcorn maker is a hybrid method, half popcorn maker have stovetop skillet. It is a specialty device that is no more expensive than a good frying pan but definitely has advantages. I am including this because it tends to eliminate some of the problems with a frying pan method and gain some additional advantages. Advantages – designed for high heat. Closed cover contains mess. Hand crank apparatus eliminates the need to be jiggling a frying pan all over the place. Disadvantagescoffee beans are not as immediately visible as with an open frying pan. This is not an electric device nor have the blower capacity of a popcorn maker.

Roasting Coffee Beans With A Dedicated Hot Air Roaster

Advantages – designed specifically as a coffee being roaster. Uses fluid air technology, which essentially means that hot air performs the dual function of roasting the beans and agitating them at the same time. No need for stirring. Replicate a bowl results. Timing presets and computer interfaces are available. Disadvantages – Small roasting batches, if you drink a lot of coffee you will be roasting every couple of days. There is a moderate investment in the cost of the equipment. It is fairly loud when in operation, (about as loud as a noisy hairdryer).

Roasting Coffee Beans With Home A Drum Roaster

Advantages – you can roast larger batches of coffee. There are multiple timing, heat settings, and profiles preprogrammed into the machine. Agitation of the beans is by a rolling drum rather than forced air. It is quieter in operation in easier to hear the crack of the beans when roasting. Disadvantages – these are the most expensive home roasters on the market and probably the final “step up” for a home roaster. They can range in price from just over $300 to over $1,000s.

Okay, there we have it.

Those are the different home roasting methods we will cover in detail each section below. Hopefully, you are not too confused about all the options available. I have tried the pan roasting method, and the popcorn Popper method of roasting beans. Both produce less than stellar results. In fact I bought the wrong popcorn maker in the result was hilarious. I wrote a separate post on it.

Roasting Coffee Beans With A Heat Gun.

Some of you may be familiar with heat guns and some not. I am not a handyman about the homes heat guns were somewhat foreign to me. Visualizing industrial-strength hairdryer and you’re in the ballpark. A heat gun blows a jet of very hot air in the direction you point it.

Equipment you need to have:

Heat gun. Roasting container such as a stainless steel bowl or wok. Wooden spoon (stirring utensil). Colander for cooling. Hot mitts or hotpads.

Imdiately pour the beans into your colander were screened cooling vessel and let them cool. Store properly. Simple, right? That is one of the beauties of using this very basic coffee being roasting method.

More details. You must do the roasting outside. That heat gun is going to blow chaff from the beans all over the place. Some of the chaff may actually be ignited. You also produce a pretty strong smell and chances are good deal of smoke.

Your choice of heating bowl is also critical to the success of this method. You want to pick a bowl that has a continuously curved inner surface. Some suggestions would be a large stainless steel mixing bowl or wok without an interior coating. The bowl should be large enough to accommodate the amount of beans you want to roast with plenty of room to spare.

Do not make the massive beans so deep that the heat cannot get to them evenly. Cast-iron or really heavy-duty metal is not recommended because it will absorb a lot of the heat that is better directed at the beans. It can also create hotspots the pan itself. The beans should be continuously agitated and all of them should be changing color at the same time.

Move the gun in figure eights or circles while you are stirring the beans. You can also move the heat gun in and out up and down to create some agitation from the forced air of the gun. If I were going to use this method consistently I would take into account the weight of the heat gun. You’ll be holding it the whole time.

 Black & Decker HG1300 Dual Temperature Heat Gun

Roasting Coffee Beans In A Skillet, Frying Pan or Wok

First off, you must select a pan without an interior coating. Coffee beans roasted temperatures between 400 and 500°, so you’re pan is going to get extremely hot. Do not want to take the chance of the coating burning or interacting super hot beans.

Just to be cautious I made sure my little handheld fire extinguisher was nearby. The object of the exercise is to roast the coffee beans not set your kitchen on fire.

Equipment you need to have:

  • A large frying pan.
  • Wooden spoon (stirring utensil).
  • Colander or tray for cooling.
  • Hot mitts or hotpads.
  • Equipment nice to have: A gas stove. The heat controls are more adjustable and quicker to react than an electric stove.

Preheat the frying pan to at least 350°. An easy way to judge flick a few drops of water on the frying pan, it should sizzle and disappear almost immediately. Add your coffee beans and start stirring. Use a figure 8 or circular motion and be sure the beans are being agitated enough to brown evenly. If you’re confident in your Pan control, you can flick the beans as you would one frying food. If you try this be very careful and gentle.

When the beans have reached your desired color immediately transfer the beans tear cooling colander or tray. Agitate them while cooling for even heat distribution.

 Joyce Chen 22-0060, Pro Chef Flat Bottom Wok Uncoated Carbon Steel, 14-inch

Roasting Coffee Beans With A Whirley Pop  

Materials needed on hand: the Whirley Popper, a colander or cooling tray, proper storage containers, and a scale.

Roasting beans with a Whirley Pop popcorn Popper is a hybrid method. Basically, you are pan roasting beans the pan has some virtues of a dedicated popcorn Popper. There is no electric mechanism. But they handle have a crank on the end of it which controls the blades within the pan that stir and agitate the coffee beans as you are heating them on the oven.

Be aware that there is no mechanism for controlling the chaff that comes off the beans. It is essentially a pan roasting method that has a covered top allow you to people in on the beans while they are roasting. It must be used in a very well ventilated area.

Preheat the pan to a moderate temperature on medium and add your coffee beans. Start cranking. It generally takes 10 to 12 minutes to arrive at first crack. Don’t be alarmed by any smoke at this point. Beans have reached first crack, have reached the minimum amount of roasting needed for good coffee. Calculate 15% of the time it took for the beans to reach first crack. Continue cooking for that amount of time and remove from heat. (If the beans took 10 minutes, 600 seconds to reach first crack, 15% of that is 90 seconds 1.5 minutes) therefore total roast time would be 11 ½ minutes.

Immediately transfer to colander or cooling tray too cool. Agitate the beans to bring them to room temperature as quickly as possible.

 Wabash Valley Farms Red Whirley Pop Stovetop Popcorn Popper (Includes Popping Kit)

Roasting Coffee Beans With A Popcorn Maker

Gather your materials.

  • The Popper and the coffee
  • Wooden spoon with a long handle
  • Colander
  • Timer (I use the one on my iPhone)
  • Oven mitts or towels
  • Roasting log or pen and paper
  • Sstorage container or Ziploc bag.

Arranging materials so they are all within easy reach. This roasting method is fast. Use a well ventilated space to roast. A lot of fumes and potentially a lot of smoke is generated during roasting. Ideally, it is recommended to do it outside or on a porch. If you’re going to do it inside make sure you do it under your hood vent on high or in front of a window with a fan sucking the air out.

WARNING: It is critical to have the proper popcorn Popper.I bought the cheapest one available in did not pay attention to this. It was a disaster. Most successful roasters using poppers modify their machines.

 

I used a cheap one and it was a complete disaster.

Flat out the best popcorn popper to use is 1500 Watt West Bend Poppery 1 (the original) is the gold standard in the holy Grail of popcorn machine coffee roasters. This model is no longer sold and is now a bit of a vintage item. It was originally made in the 1980s. You can still find it on eBay but the current prices have risen from being in the $30 range to the current $70-$80 range.

Others that can work are: West Bend Poppery II, Presto PopLite.

Preheat the Popper. Let it run for three or four minutes to get warmed up.

Add your coffee beans. The proper amount of coffee beans to add is really a matter of eyeballing the coffee in the machine. On the one hand they are not flying all over the place and on the other hand they are not just sitting there.

Depending on what type of Popper you have up to about 6 ounces (170) grams could be used. My suggestion would be to start with that amount in a container, & gradually add beans from it to the popper until the proper amount of bean movement in the Popper occurs. Weigh the amount of beans left over and do a simple subtraction that will give you the amount of beans you used. Write that down for future roasts.

Start your timer. Keep an eye on it because at the 2 ½ to 3 ½ minute mark you’ll reach a critical stage of roasting, “the first crack”. It will last for about a minute and then fade away much is popcorn in a bag slows down and stops popping after a while. If it doesn’t seem that you’re getting the agitation of the beans you need use the wooden spoon to gently stir them.

You really can’t miss the first crack as, to me, it sounds like popcorn popping. Some people state they think it sounds like twigs snapping. Either way you’re listening for. From the moment of the first crack on you can pull your coffee beans and they will be drinkable. That first crack is like a plateau after the first crack, the beans will just get progressively darker annual move into stronger roasts. Pull your beans off the heat when they are just a tad lighter than you want them to end up. As the residual heat will continue to darken them slightly. A  year or 2 ago The Poppery Poppers were on Ebay for $30-$40. They ate now $80-$120. Maybe you can get lucky and find one in a thrift store for $5.

Roasting Coffee Beans With A Dedicated Hot Air Roaster

Let’s take a look at the air roasting process.

Hot air roasting is more technically known as the fluid bed roasting process. The word fluid does not mean liquid. It means fluid as in flowing in this case. Hot air is blown into the beans creating a fluid, moving environment.

Air roasters do not produce the flavor in the coffee. The coffee beans provide the flavor. Air roasting is a process that can consistently unlock and reveal the flavor characteristics that are already in the bean without adding any artificial flavors or smokiness that other means of roasting can provide.

The ability to perfectly control the hot air flow in temperature& time roasts the beans evenly as it circulates through the batch.

Air roasting provides an opportunity to “dial in” the perfect flavor profile desired for specific bean. Since there is such great control over temperature and time exposure to the hot air, the process can be duplicated over and over again.

For a home roaster, the real fun and challenge is to dial in the flavor profile that most satisfies you.

I use and recommend the FreshStart SR 500 coffee roaster.

A dedicated hot air coffee being roaster such as the SR 500 coffee roaster allows you to roast small batches of coffee very consistently at a controlled temperature and with control timing. You control both.

Using this roaster is amazingly simple:

  • I measured the beans into the roaster.
  • I hit the pre-set roast button.
  • I watched the beans.
  • I pressed the button for an extra cooling cycle.
  • I removed the beans and stored them.

Easy, Peasy. The process is made so simple, and I was in complete control. Now I can have some fun doing what I like best, fiddling with roast times exploring new beans in new tastes.

 FreshRoast SR500 Automatic Coffee Bean Roaster

I chose the video below because this guy’s experience was very similar to mine. A popcorn popper just didn’t cut it for him and for me,  it was a complete disaster. He bought the same coffee roaster I did and gives you a nice little walk-through about how it works

Roasting Coffee Beans At Home With A Drum Roaster 

Without a doubt, the most popular home drum roaster is the Behmor 1600 Plus Customizable Drum Coffee Roaster. The ‘Plus’ version is simply an update to the Behmor 1600 which is been around for years.

When looking for a “step up” from the frying pan in my popcorn popper disaster I was looking both at the hot air SR 500 roaster and this Behmor 1600. The thing that held me back from actually purchasing this model was its high price tag and what appeared to be a steeper learning curve.

I wanted to learn the basics of home coffee roasting and get right into experimenting with different beans. I did not want to spend a lot of time learning the nuances of the fairly complex machine.

What I am ready to step it up again a notch I am certain this will be the model of coffee roaster I will purchase.

The Behmor might be the final step up for the hobbyist home coffee roaster. It is about double the price of the FreshRoast SR 500. So what, exactly, are you getting for a substantial chunk of money?

This roaster does not rely on hot air to be blown in for being agitation. It actually has a removable drum with a little opening on. You fill the drum the amount of coffee you want insert it back into the machine and a gearing mechanism will take care of rotating the drum in the coffee inside.

There is a heating element in the back of the roaster which exposes the beans to the thermostatically controlled Quartz heating elements as they tumble within the roaster. The advantages of this roaster are that you can roast large quantities of coffee, up to a pound whereas the hot air roasters can only roast three or 4 ounces of the time.

This roaster has a number of different programmed roasting profiles and heat settings. The smoke suppression system is very good – you can roast indoors. Also, it is very quiet. It produces consistent quality roasts.

This machine has over 250 customer reviews on Amazon and is rated 3.8 out of five stars.

Most of the poor reviews were from customers who didn’t bother reading the manual or doing their research on how to operate the machine.

It was noted that customer service on this machine is awesome. They are responsive to requests sent in by email.

 Behmor 1600 Plus Customizable Drum Coffee Roaster

Conclusion: Where Do You Go From Here?

That’s a great question in the answer is entirely up to you.

Just get started somewhere!

If you remember, in the beginning of this post I suggest you ask and answer questions about your budget, your level of engagement, and how much coffee you will be roasting.

Each one of the methods suggested equipment we have covered will suit a different home coffee roasters profile.

For me, I wanted to be able to experiment with different coffee beans in coffee tastes as quickly as possible. When I hit something I really liked I wanted be able to duplicated time and time again.

I had a little bit of money to invest but could not afford to go hog-wild. Will work for me is a dedicated hot air coffee roaster. I’m ecstatic over my choice and use it regularly. I have several coffee bean favorites that I have discovered and can roast coffee beasfor consistent flavor and great enjoyment.

That was the object of the exercise.

I hope this post was beneficial in helping you narrow down your choices so you can begin roasting coffee beans at home with enthusiasm and had a lot of fun doing.

The payoff couldn’t be richer – good coffee.

Wishing you success in all your coffee adventures.

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