How to Roast Coffee in a Cast-Iron Skillet

You can roast coffee in a cast-iron skillet or Dutch oven, if you’d like to give the craft a try.


| April/May 2014


For the most consistent roast, you can’t beat a home coffee-roasting machine. Next best is the hot-air popcorn popper: It’ll keep the beans in constant motion, preventing scorching.

However, a simple stovetop setup can turn out reliable roasts with just a few pieces of equipment you likely already have: a cast-iron or heavy stainless steel pan (preferably with tall sides, such as a Dutch oven), a wooden spoon or a whisk, and a large colander. Coffee beans smoke while roasting, so if you don’t have a powerful kitchen exhaust fan, you’ll want a portable fan to direct smoke out an open window. Alternatively, perform this process outdoors on a grill.

1. Gather 1 1/2 cups of green coffee beans as well as a few roasted beans to use as a comparison for the color of the roast you hope to achieve.

2. Place the colander in the sink. The larger the colander’s holes, the better it will remove the bits of chaff clinging to the beans.

3. Preheat the pan over medium-high heat. You want the pan hot enough that a drop of water will dance across it and disappear quickly, but not so hot that coffee beans will scorch. If you have an infrared thermometer that can be aimed at a surface to gauge its temperature, shoot for between about 500 and 550 degrees Fahrenheit.

4. When the pan is hot enough, pour in the green beans and begin stirring immediately with your spoon or whisk, and don’t let up. Keep the beans in constant motion.





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