How to Roast Coffee at Home: A Primer
Back in August, we presented piece on Zen and the art of home coffee roasting, which included an overview of the process and links to the best of the tutorials around the web.
We wanted to re-visit the topic, with a more in-depth look at getting started. Here we answer the three primary questions presented to us by newbie roasters: What equipment do I need? Where do I buy green beans? Where do I turn for help/guidance/therapy when I run into a glitch (or two or three)?
Roasting Coffee at Home | What equipment do I need?
Roasting can be accomplished with a multitude of tools. As this roundup of homemade roasters demonstrates, the possibilities are nearly endless.
To start you off on finding your ideal set-up, we have compiled a list of DIY equipment combinations with links to a tutorial specific to each approach:
- Heat gun and a dog bowl
- Gas oven and a stainless steel wire mesh colander
- (You can also combine the skillet and oven methods in a hybrid, two-stage approach.)
- Stovetop popcorn maker
- Air pop popcorn maker
Why DIY? The equipment is affordable and accessible. For some of the above approaches, you might already have everything you need in your kitchen.
A few words of caution: these are hands-on techniques that require careful attention. There will be smoke and chaff. Please work with care, in a room with good ventilation.
Another option is to invest in dedicated roasting equipment—an air roaster or a drum roaster. They take some of the smoke and some of the mess out of the equation. (Dedicated DIYers will argue they take some of the fun out of it as well, but to each his own).
Where Do I Buy Green Coffee Beans?
Author’s note: I have ordered from each of these sources on many occasions, and I consider them to be the best of the best. My research across the web this week indicates that I am in pretty good company in that regard. Share your favorite source with us in the comments section at the end of this article!
Sweet Maria’s: Over 50 different types of green coffee selection of cup-rated current crop lots of green beans. I highly recommend their green coffee sampler for beginning home roasters. Sweet Maria’s features easy online ordering, outstanding customer service and a complete (and rather authoritative) library of reference guides.
Mr. Green Beans: If you have the opportunity to visit in person, Mr. Green Beans is a DIY mecca. There is a lot of “and more” to be found under the umbrella of their “DIY coffee roasting and more” tagline. They have the supplies, they offer classes and they are nice folks to boot. If you can’t make it up to the Beaver state, you can order from Mr. Green Beans online.
Where Do I Go For Help?
Complied together, the sources referenced above (and in our original post) comprise a nearly encyclopedic reference guide to home roasting.
Where can you turn for help if your questions remain unanswered?
Straight to the source: One of the best options is to talk to your green bean purveyor. Make liberal use of the “contact us” options. They love the beans, and they are invested in helping you reach your full roasting potential.
Join a Forum: There is a lively and thriving community of coffee roasters who are willing to share their wisdom online. Find a forum geared towards home roasters, and be sure to read their community guidelines before posting.
Take a Class: Home coffee roasting is an area where the homesteading and DIY crowd meets the gourmet/foodie crowd (with a hipster or two thrown in for good measure). Classes appealing to all of these audiences are becoming more widely available, like this one from the (irresistibly named) Institute of Domestic Technology. Check in with your local source for green beans, your local homesteading supply store or your local roaster to see if they offer classes.
Content photo: Rowen Atkinson