If you’ve never done it before, roasting your own coffee at home may seem like a daunting challenge. In actuality, though, it’s a fairly straightforward process. It’s just as easy as popping popcorn! For the ambitious aficionado, here's a primer on how to make the greatest premium coffee you’ve ever tasted.
Before you do anything else, you need to make sure that you have the necessary tools at your disposal.
- kitchen scale
- timing device
- thermometer capable of reading up to 500 degrees F
- oven mitts
- metal colander
- airtight container with a one way valve
- large funnel
- paper and pen
You will also need a roasting appliance – a hot air popcorn popper, fluid bed coffee roaster, drum roaster, or home coffee roaster – to turn the beans for you during the roasting process. Each appliance has its own nuances.
Ready to jump in? Not so fast. You should be aware of a couple of important things about roasting coffee.
First, this process frequently produces smoke – especially if you are using darker beans. Plan accordingly so you don’t have the fire department racing to your home because your alarms are going crazy!
Second, chaff separates from the beans in the roasting process. You will need to have something to take care of this.
Third, you should anticipate two loud sounds during roasting, depending on how dark of a roast you plan to make:
- When your beans reach around 380 degrees, anywhere from 3-15 minutes into the roasting process, you will hear a series of loud cracks like corn popping. These cracks will eventually die down.
- If you continue heating the beans, you’ll hear a second noise. Instead of a crack, it’s more like a crackling. Allow this crackling to continue and eventually a thick, sweet smoke will fill the air, and the crackling will end.
When you remove the beans from the heat depends on what kind of coffee you want.
- Sweet, grainy, tea-like. Those who like their coffee this way should remove the beans from the heat in the middle of the first crack.
- Classic medium roast. To get that traditional “breakfast coffee” flavor, stop roasting your beans as the first crack ends.
- Remove the beans as the second crack – or “crackling” – begins if you want to enjoy a sweet, bright Viennese.
- Balanced dark roast. Take the beans off of the heat in the middle of the crackling, and you’ll get a dark roast that’s just this side of being burned.
- Dark French. Wait until the crackling climaxes if you want the ultimate dark roast.
Whenever you take the beans away from the heat, be careful. The beans themselves will actually be generating heat, so take the necessary precautions when moving them.
After the beans have been withdrawn from the heat, let them cool in the colander or roasting pan under a small fan. To remove the chaff, you will need to shake it – but don’t do this yet. Either head outside or do it near a sink, because the chaff will float off as you shake it. Remember, too, to remove chaff from the appliance after you roast. If you don’t, it could cause a fire.
When you are finished, place the roasted beans in a container that gives it room to expand – you want a one way valve bag that lets gasses escape but keeps air out for at least 4-8 hours. Sometimes, a longer period is even better. The choice is yours. Make a note on various times and how it tastes to you.
Record your timing – home roasting is your choice.
Ready? When roasting the first time, experiment. Eventually you will customize roasting to your own taste, but the best way to figure out what you love best is to engage in some trial and error. Happy roasting!
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