We. Love. Coffee.
Every morning we make a pot and drink it up; some mornings making a little more, just for the two of us. We weaned ourselves off grocery store coffee years ago and began grinding roasted beans from the local health food store‘s organic and non-organic offerings. That lasted several years and the coffee was good, but not great.
Traveling to British Columbia one summer we stayed at a B&B on Thetis Island, home of a small local coffee roaster. Their coffee was featured at the B&B and that began our odyssey to home roast. Such an epiphany! It was the best coffee we ever drank.
How serendipitous to find that it is easy to roast your own coffee beans! Mother Earth News just posted a coffee-roasting blog in April but I want to share my own experiences. When I roast coffee, I want to roast more than ½ or 1 lb. I want to roast at least 3 lbs at a time. Thankfully, it does not take much longer to roast a larger batch than a smaller one and the results do last a bit longer.
What you will need:
Green coffee beans
Stainless steel roasting pan (minimum 11” x 13,” mine is 12” x 16”)
Large wooden spoon (will not conduct heat)
Oven for preheating the beans
Gas grill for finishing the beans
Heat gun or blow dryer
75 minutes roasting time- start to finish, more or less.
I order green coffee beans from Sweet Maria’s; just one of several sources you can find on the web and we have been hooked on their Guatemalan varieties the past year or so. We buy the coffee in a 20 lb bag and pour the beans into gallon jars for storage. 3 lbs of beans is a little more than ½ gallon.
Preheat the oven to 350F. Pour beans into the pan and place in oven when temperature is reached.
Stirring every 5-10 minutes, warm up the beans. This step takes 30 minutes. Nearing the end of the 30 minutes, preheat your grill on high.
After 30 minutes in the oven, the beans will begin “yellowing” and you will be able to smell them cooking. Transfer the pan from oven to grill. Turn gas heat down to medium/medium-high. Close the lid and allow the beans to reheat.
Stir beans every 5 minutes, sooner if they seem to be cooking fast. Watch the beans in the corners as they can toast quickly! You may also decide to lower the heat a smidge. You want this cooking stage to take at least 30 minutes to allow full-flavor development.
Once the beans have been cracking their way through “first crack stage” you will see that there are papery husks. Coffee beans expand during roasting and the papery husk is the outer layer of the bean. Using the heat gun or a blow dryer, blow the chaff off the beans while you stir.
Stir beans, close lid, open lid and stir. Repeat with blower as needed. It is because of the smoke and chaff produced during roasting that we do not complete the entire process in the oven.
When the beans are nearing your desired stage of roast (click this link for a picture of various stages of roast), turn off the grill and pour your beans into a large metal colander to cool. They are hot and will continue to cook. We like a City+/Full City+ roast where the beans are a rich brown, with a thin white line remaining. You do not want your beans to be black and oily-looking, like what you might see in the grocery store. This is NOT desired with home roasting; charcoal beans… Blech!
You may choose to put the colander near a fan to hasten the cooling process, especially if you think your beans are exactly at the desired roast and you want roasting to stop as soon as possible. We just put the colander in our workshop where it is cool and stir a couple more times. This is called “coasting.”
Allow beans to sit in the colander for 24 hrs. Carbon dioxide will continue to escape from the roasted beans during this time (outgassing).
The next day, swirl the beans around the colander to remove any remaining chaff, which will fall through the holes. You will be amazed at the amount of chaff that is left (I set the colander on a couple pieces of lumber to allow better air circulation). Transfer the beans to a gallon jar with lid. Allow the beans to rest for another 2-3 days in the sealed jar before grinding. This allows flavors to develop.
Ready to grind, prepare and enjoy the bestest cuppa coffee you have had? It is just that easy!
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