Roasting coffee at home
If you love your coffee fresh (let's face it who doesn't!), home roasting your own green beans could be the right move to make. There is a great satisfaction in doing something yourself. Roasting your own coffee beans at home can produce some fantastic results, once you have perfected your technique and found the roasting/cooling time you prefer (dare I say - your own roast may be the best coffee you’ll ever have!).
Most people expect home roasting to be an expensive process, but you don’t need to splash out on an expensive machine, you probably already have all the kit you need in your kitchen cupboards to get started.
SO WHAT DO YOU NEED TO GET STARTED?
All you need to begin roasting coffee at home is either an iron skillet (a heavy frying pan will be okay) or a stovetop pop-corn pan with a crank handle are especially good. You will also need a baking tray or metal colander to put the beans in too cool. A kitchen thermometer is also handy, but not essential, as once you have roasted beans a few times - you'll begin to get an eye (and ear) for it. Most importantly you will need to purchase some of our gorgeous green beans.
LET'S GET ROASTING!
1. Start by heating the the pan (if you don't have a pop-corn pan and are using a cast iron skillet, just make sure you keep stirring the beans as per the pop-corn pan) to around 250 degrees Celsius before adding a handful of beans (although this doesn’t look like much, the beans will expand to around twice their size, and it is best to start with small amounts for the first few times). If you are using the pop-corn pan - I would advise leaving the lid open so you can keep a check the colour of the beans.
2. Stir constantly (or turn the crank if you have a stovetop popcorn pan) to ensure you get an even roast. Keep stirring, at least every 30 seconds and after around 4 to 7 minutes the beans will start to make crackling sounds and smoking. Turn on your extraction fan if you have one, or open windows to keep the room well ventilated (roasting coffee beans can be a good way to test your fire alarms!). You will notice the beans beginning to turn a yellow colour as the sugars begin to caramelize.
3. The beans will begin to make cracking noises (similar to the sound of pop-corn popping), it is important at this point to keep a close eye on the coffee beans. You will see they are starting to turn browner.
4. If you stop the roasting process straight after the first set of cracks you will get an especially smooth coffee. For novice home roasters, I would suggest waiting for a few minutes after the first crack, until the beans begin to darken a little further.
5. If you want to beans to go even darker (bringing out the more toasted and bitter tones), then listen out for another set of cracks. This time it will be a much quieter sound, like bubbles popping in a pan of boiling water. You will notice the beans are now a very rich brown colour. This is when you have to be careful, as if you leave it too long the beans will burn. If you get to the second cracking noise, I usually take the beans off around 30 seconds after that - but hey, the great thing about home roasting is that you can experiment to find your favourite roast length.
6. Take them off heat and place them in a metal baking tray to cool. Stir the beans around for a few minutes with a wooden spoon to help cool them evenly, as despite being off heat they will still be roasting. Create an even layer of beans on the tray and leave them outside to cool for at least 30 minutes. Try different cooling lengths and see if it changes your enjoyment, as some people recommend leaving it overnight to rest.
Although it is unlikely that you'll get the perfect roast at home the first time you try this, it is great fun and worth learning. There is something immensely rewarding about a cup of coffee made from green beans you have roasted yourself.
Green coffee beans can also be roasted in a conventional oven, provided that the beans are spread out in only one layer thick on a perforated baking tray with raised sides. Because they are not stirred, the beans at the perimeter of the tray get darker first. You kitchen should be well ventilated because a lot of smoke will be generated, so open windows and switch on the extractor hood. This method produces coffee beans with a variety of roast levels as it is almost impossible to achieve a consistent roast, however, some people like the resultant smorgasbord of colours and flavours from this method of home roasting!
Once it is nice and cool, transfer the coffee to an airtight container (a Kilner jar is ideal).
TOP TIP: Don't seal the lid completely for a day or two, since it may explode as the beans slowly release carbon dioxide after roasting (ever wondered what that little valve is on coffee bags - this is to allow those gases to release, otherwise the bags will go pop!). You'll also want to wait about the same length of time to grind/brew them. Once perfected you home roasting, you can even bag them up and give them to friends as gifts (which is kind of how I started my own coffee brand!)
Use your roasted beans within about a week for ultimate freshness and fully embrace your next-level coffee geek-dom!