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The Art of Roasting Coffee Click Here to see beans roasting

Becoming proficient at roasting coffee is not difficult. After roasting several pounds you will be able to roast City-French-Espresso-Italian depending on your taste.

Selecting a Roaster:
There are several ways to roast coffee in the home. A frying pan on a stove, an oven, or even a hot-air popcorn popper. I suggest using a Melita home roaster because of its low cost and built in chaff catcher. If you can't obtain a Melita, use an air popcorn popper. Both use hot air to roast the beans and do not require stirring.

Obtaining Green Beans
Many specialty coffee shops or mail-order retailers that sell roasted beans can also sell them to you green. If they can't, ask them who their supplier is, and contact them. Roasted coffee weighs less than unroasted coffee. because the roasting process forces the beans to give up at least 20% of their moisture. Therefore, you get less beans in a pound of unroasted coffee; plus, the roaster saves money by not having to roast them himself. Thus, you should be able to buy green beans at 20%-30% below their roasted price per pound.

One pound of green beans is enough for four to six roasts. By the time you've been through the roasting procedure that many times, you should know whether it's something you want to do on a regular basis.

The temperature can be adjusted on the stove top or oven easily. If you roast in a popcorn popper or Melita Home roaster you can use a bucket or box to adjust the air intake temperature. just right for roasting coffee, and the motion of the air will keep the beans moving quickly, which is very important. Apart from that, you'll need a wooden spoon and a dishtowel.

Roasting Coffee
Begin by measuring the green beans. Most will comfortably hold up to 2 ounces of beans, some as much as 4 ounces. This is about one quarter to one third of a cup of beans by volume.

Remove any foreign matter or bad beans. You should remove all stones, twigs, moldy beans, wrinkled beans, and brown or broken beans. With some low-quality varieties, you may have up to 50% defects, and with some excellent grades, you will find virtually no bad beans. Most coffees are somewhere in between.

Turn on your roaster and drop the beans in. At first, they will be too heavy for the hot air to move them, so you'll need to stir them constantly with a wooden spoon. To accomplish this, you'll need to leave the lid off the popper. If the beans have turned from green to brown and are still not moving on their own, you may need to cut back the amount of coffee you use next time.

Note that repeated roasting can cause a buildup inside your popcorn popper which can impart an unpleasant coffee taste to your popcorn. If you plan to roast coffee more than five or six times, you'll want to dedicate a popcorn popper for use only with coffee.

As the beans dry out, the thin skins of the beans, or "chaff", will dry up and come off the beans, then ride the column of hot air upwards and precipitate on everything in the vicinity. Be prepared for this. You'll want to sweep up the chaff when you're done. Different coffees vary widely in the amount of chaff they generate.

When the beans have given up about 10% of their moisture, they will be a light brown color, and they should begin to move on their own and you can cease stirring. Soon, the beans will begin rapid expansion, and you'll hear a popping sound. If this doesn't happen within 10 minutes, your popcorn popper may not be hot enough. To compensate, you can use more beans next time (which will keep more heat inside the machine) or partially cover the machine's opening. Please be aware that you are using your popcorn popper beyond its expected limits. While most machines can tolerate this abuse with no ill effects, you should be ready to abort your roast at the first sign of fire or other malfunction.

The beans will begin to pop more rapidly, then slow down again. If you plotted the frequency of pops versus time, you would probably find a bell curve, but I've never actually done this. Anyway, there will be a lull for a few minutes until the second popping (which is more of a "snapping") starts. Some roasters advocate pulling the beans at this time, but they're actually not quite done.

To roast an espresso roast, leave the beans in until the snapping stops and the beans are covered with oil. Caution: over roasting will cause the oil to dry off and you will end up with a burnt-tasting coffee.

When you have finished roasting, the beans must be cooled. Spread the beans one layer thick in a pie pan or plate. While the beans are cooling check for defective beans and remove any that are found.

Once the beans are completely cooled, they can be ground and brewed. Roasted beans should be stored in an airtight container. Beans will keep for up to two weeks with little noticeable decline in flavor and aroma.


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