Roasting your own coffee is inexpensive, fun, and easy to learn. Although this quick start guide does not cover all the details, it does provide a concise description of the most important points. Coffee roasting is an art, rooted in the senses. Ultimately, you need to pay attention to the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and tactile sensations of the roasting process so you can connect them with the results in your cup.
Your creative engagement will fuel your exploration, and you’re bound to have more than a few cups of coffee along the way. To start, of course, you need some coffee beans. Start with an internet search for “buy green coffee.” You’ll find plenty to choose from, but don’t worry. Just start at the beginning and buy one that sounds interesting.
Once you have some green coffee, you need to decide how to roast it. One piece of advice: start with humility. Get your hands a little dirty and find out if this hobby is for you before you put cash into a machine. to roast coffee, all you really need is a heat source, between 350 and 500 F. Lots of people have gotten creative here, and so can you. Stovetop, oven, grill, open fire, heat gun, electric or handheld Whirly Pop popcorn, people have devised grilling methods for them all.
Why not start with the stove and the pan? You can always buy a machine later. If you must buy something, consider the humblest machine: the electric air popper. People start there because they’re cheap, don’t take much effort, and get good results. Although air poppers can be messy and don’t fit much coffee, with starter packs like this on the market, an air popper is hard to beat. If money is not an issue, on the other hand, buy this.
So, you have supplied; now make a plan. What should be your coffee roast be like? To answer this, you need to understand the roasting timeline. To talk about the timeline, the coffee world has developed its own special jargon. Knowing this jargon is not absolutely necessary to roast good coffee, but it does allow you to understand and follow the recommendations of suppliers and fellow roasters.
Says so. Roasting has started and the beans are heating up. The first point of interest you’ll find along the timeline is called the “first crack”. You’ll know it by the click or click you hear. Visually, the beans will have expanded somewhat, be a dull light brown in color, and may smell of malt or baked bread, often with aromatic top notes such as fruit, flowers, or herbs. This point is significant because it is here that the coffee begins to be drinkable.
The second significant moment in the timeline is called the “second crack”. When the second crack begins, the roast is called “full city”. The sound of the second crack starts out soft but becomes progressively more violent as the roast progresses. The beans have further expanded, sporting a consistent medium brown color with less matte, more shine, and aromas of chocolate and toast. Later in the timeline, the second crack gets stronger. The beans will appear dark brown with an oily sheen, and the aromas will be deeply dark and toasty. There may be some smoke. This area is called Vienna, and then French.
French is the last stop on the timeline and the beginning of the end of drinking. Some beans may taste better dark, while others may be better when lightly toasted. That’s part of the fun. In the end, the right roast is the one that tastes best to you. If you’re not sure what to aim for, try mastering the city roast before going much darker. Stop the roast shortly after you hear the first crack, and you’ll be fine.
Now that you understand the timeline, here are some basic tips for navigating it. Professional roasting gets pretty technical, but there are two simple guidelines home roasters can use to get good results. First, keep the coffee moving while it roasts. You can do this by hand, shaking the pan or spinning a grater, or with a machine. Either way, moving the beans around means even heating and consistent roasting. The second guideline is based on extensive empirical research in the roasting community and also refers to heat. In a nutshell, you want to heat the beans quickly first, and then more slowly as time goes on.
In practice, that means preheating the roaster before adding the beans and then turning the heat down a bit at the time of first crack. Lastly, you should know that toasting can be tricky. Green coffee beans shed a paper-thin skin, called chaff, that you can blow around the kitchen. Also, roasted coffee can produce smoke. High-end roasting machines account for this, but DIY roasters you might want to grill in the backyard.
When you stop roasting, it’s time to cool the beans. Move them away from the fire and each other, and give them plenty of airflow. You can toss small batches into a strainer and spread larger batches onto trays. Try to cool the beans to room temperature within three to five minutes. You may want to use a fan. When cool, store the beansat room temperature, never in the refrigerator or freezer, and away from light and air, which destroy flavor and aroma.
Wait at least twenty-four hours before preparation. During this rest period, the coffee will release carbon dioxide that would otherwise interfere with flavor extraction during brewing. For maximum flavor, use your freshly roasted coffee within two to seven days. Now good luck and happy toasting.