DIY Coffee Roasting for the Ultimate Coffee Experience.

Photo by Andrea Marie Tan.
Photo by Andrea Marie Tan.

For some, coffee is merely a routine, a kind of ritualized medication that brings no more joy than the myriad of other morning routines such as brushing one’s teeth. But for others, coffee is so much more. For those who love the aroma and flavour of coffee, those who not so much taste coffee but feel it somewhere deep in their soul, DIY roasting offers a whole new level of freshness and a virtually infinite range of flavour profiles.

On the surface the art of coffee roasting seems forbidding and extremely exclusive. Expert coffee roasters practice for years, if not decades, to produce perfectly roasted beans. On the flip side, home coffee roasters can sell for anywhere between two-hundred to two-thousand dollars on sites such as Amazon or Coffee Bean Corral. And where does one buy green coffee beans, anyway?

Fortunately, more and more small coffee shops today are opting to roast their own beans. This means coffee shops will likely have a large stock of green beans on hand at any given point. If you talk to the owner or manager they might let you buy a pound or two, and usually at a price that is much cheaper than the final roasted product. If you can’t find any green beans at bricks and mortar shops you could also buy them online for around 7 to 9 dollars per pound (again, much cheaper than pre-roasted beans, which go for around eighteen to nineteen dollars per pound at Starbucks).

Photo by Andrea Marie Tan.
Photo by Andrea Marie Tan.

Once you have procured your beans you have a few different options when it comes to roasting them. The cheapest way is to roast them in a large pan on medium heat, stirring constantly until they begin to crack and reach the desired colour. This method, while cost effective, is likely to result in burnt-tasting coffee and inconsistent roast levels.

In my opinion, the easiest, cheapest, and most consistent way to roast coffee beans (professional roasting machines aside) is to use a hot air popcorn popper. Simply pour the green beans into the machine as you would corn kernels and turn it on. The light, papery chaff of the bean which is prone to burning in the pan will simply fly out the top of the machine, leaving the evenly roasted beans behind in the cylinder.

A few words of caution, however: The process of roasting the beans will produce some smoke, so be sure to open a window before you begin. Also, start off with a small amount of beans; it is likely you will under-roast or burn the first batch. However, once you find the perfect roasting time you will be able to replicate it over and over again with larger batches.

By no means is DIY coffee roasting for everybody. For some, all this might sound like a big pain in the ass and a lot of unnecessary work. But if you love coffee and feel inspired to take your cup to the next level, home roasting can be a fun and rewarding experience.