How to Roast Coffee Beans at your home

Going to your favorite coffee shop to order a good cup of coffee to start your day off is somewhat a daily experience that many of us go through in this day and age. That moment the smell of coffee hits the nose, we instantly feel awake and energized enough to take on whatever the day has in store for us.

But what is also just as fulfilling or even more satisfying than ordering your favorite cup of morning Joe is to actually roast your own coffee beans right in the comfort of your own home. Learning how to roast coffee beans is an endeavor that is as rewarding as any activity can get because of how roasting coffee can actually open up more opportunities as far as flavor and personal preferences are concerned.

Before we get started, however, you need to select the coffee beans according to your taste and preferences.

Recommended read: In this article, we have compared the top 10 coffee beans available in the market.

What is coffee, and where does it come from?

When we think about coffee and the beans that we roast to get that dark black liquid that keeps us awake and gives us that jolt of morning energy, we often forget that it actually comes from small red fruits that you would not suspect to turn into the world’s most popular non-alcoholic drink next to water and tea.

Yes, that is right. Coffee originally comes from tiny red fruits that bear a similarity to cherry in terms of appearance. The outer layer of that fruit is removed and peeled to reveal the seed, which is green in color. It is then dried up to turn it into what is popularly known as the coffee bean. This seed is popularly known as green coffee, which is what is usually shipped to all the different coffee shops all over the world.

You probably haven’t seen green coffee beans before. That is because the coffee beans you are accustomed to are usually dark brown or even close to black in color after they have already been roasted and then sold commercially all over the world. Most coffee companies that sell coffee beans already do the roasting themselves instead of making you roast your own green coffee beans yourself.

The process of providing you with roasted coffee beans that you only need to grind and brew to make your coffee might make things simple enough for coffee lovers all over the world, but there is still something special about being able to roast your own coffee beans at home.

What is the purpose of roasting green coffee beans, and what happens when you roast it?

how to roast coffee beans

At this point, you might be wondering why there is a need for us to roast our green coffee beans, given that we have already peeled and dried the coffee fruits. Well, the reason doing this is not so much connected to its effects on the body but is more or less concerned with the coffee’s flavor. It is also the actual roasting process that turns the green coffee beans into the brownish beans we are more familiar with.

If you do not roast your coffee beans, you will be missing out on the flavor that makes coffee great. Not roasting it will make the coffee a lot more bitter and acidic than it already originally is. That means that it will be close to undrinkable due to how bad its taste is and how it might not even be edible.

Meanwhile, roasting the green coffee beans give them that rich dark color that not only adds to the overall appeal of coffee but also gives it the unique aromas and flavor associated with coffee. But if you roast coffee beans, the endeavor is not a one-trick pony that always brings out the same kind of results. Depending on your approach or in the way you roasted your coffee beans, the flavor and the aroma changes. That is why learning how to roast coffee beans is essentially an art.

But what exactly happens when you are roasting your coffee beans? For those who are not as learned in this topic, they believe that the entire process of roasting the beans only changes the taste, color, and aroma of the beans. However, roasting your coffee beans is a process that is actually deeper and more scientific than that.

When you roast your coffee beans, you are actually forcing it to expand because of how the excess moisture inside the beans is forced out of them to push the exterior of the beans outwards. Meanwhile, the roasting process also converts the natural sugars found in the green coffee beans into the caramel-like flavors that we love about coffee. This is what ultimately gives the coffee beans their flavor and aroma.

Is Roasting your own coffee worth it?

The reason why roasting your coffee at home is something that is worth your time is that it is a lot more convenient. That might sound weird, given that you would be doing all the work here. However, what you should take into consideration is that you no longer have to go out for a good cup of coffee or to buy all kinds of different roasts. All you need are green coffee beans, and then you are all set to prepare your own cup of coffee at home.

How do you roast beans at home?

There are different types of roasting methods involved in roasting coffee beans. But what you should really know is that, despite how different the roasting methods may be, some things never really change. The basics are more likely to be the same regardless of what roasting method you are using to roast your coffee beans.

That said, here are the things you need to know to understand more about the roasting process:

What temperature do you roast coffee beans?

Roasting coffee beans requires a temperature than ranges from 350 degrees Fahrenheit to 500 degrees. The temperature you will be using really depends on your roasting method, but the 350 to 500 range is usually the most widely accepted. Anything lower than 350 degrees might make it harder for you to fully roast the beans. A temperature hotter than 500 degrees might burn the beans instead of roasting them.

You need to make sure that the coffee beans do not get to rest during the roasting process. That means that you have to constantly agitate them so as to make sure that they never rest while you are roasting them. Constantly stirring the beans agitates them. This also ensures that you are evenly distributing the heat throughout the beans to roast them all equally.

In addition to those facts, here are the things you need to know about the different stages of roasting:

  • The green coffee beans naturally start out with their greenish color even though you have already started heating them. It will take a while for them to lose that natural green essence while you are still in the early stages of the roasting process.
  • As the coffee beans heat up, they will eventually turn yellowish from their green color. This is a sign that the roasting process is picking up some pace. You might also notice the beans releasing a grassy smell that is the result of their greenish essence getting released from the beans as excess moisture begins to evaporate.
  • When the excess moisture in the beans is released, you will notice a lot of steam emitting together with the grassy scent. That is because the water is evaporating as the steam starts to make the beans expand.
  • The first crack usually happens somewhere between 3 to 5 minutes, depending on the type of roasting method you are using. During this stage, you will actually hear a crack coming from the beans as the steam released when the excess moisture is evaporated forces the exterior walls of the beans to expand and crack open. The first crack is also a sign that the beans are actually ready for the minimum level of roast acceptable. This is usually called the city roast, and it is perfect for white coffee due to its light color and taste.
  • As you roast the beans a bit more after hearing the first audible crack, you are migrating from city roast to city roast plus, which is one of the most commonly used types of roast among coffee connoisseurs due to how it carries a light brown color and a taste that is somewhere close to the light and bitter because of how caramelization begins to occur. And going beyond this point and just before the second crack is the full city roast, which blends a full flavor and aroma with a more caramelized color.
  • For those who prefer a darker taste in their coffee beans, it is essential to wait for the second crack to happen. This second crack signals a full caramelization of the natural sugars and the vaporization of most of the remaining moisture inside the beans to make them look darker. This is when the beans are almost at their limit.
  • If you want a French roast, you might want to push the beans to their limit but not past it. This is when the smoke coming from the roast releases a pungent odor that signals the burning of the sugars but not to the point that the beans become inedible. The flavor at this point is at its darkest, but that does not mean that the overall taste and aroma are ruined. This is the darkest of all of the roasts possible. We suggest waiting for about 30 to 40 seconds after hearing the second crack to achieve a French roast. After that, remove the beans from the heat to halt the roasting process and to avoid burning them.

After removing the beans from the heat, the cooling process begins. It is better to place them in a metal container because of how hot they are to the point that they can melt the plastic. You should also remove the chaff, which is the dried shell of the bean. Wait for the beans to cool down completely before doing so. The best way for you to remove the chaff is to dump the beans back and forth between two colanders.

How long does it take to roast coffee beans?

It depends on the type of roast you want and on the roasting method you are using. It usually takes a minimum of 3 minutes for the first crack, but it may take 4 to 5 minutes in some methods. Most of the time, coffee beans should not be roasted for more than 7 minutes if you want them to stay edible.

Roast distinctions

type of roasts

We had previously mentioned light, medium, and dark roasts when we were explaining the different roasting basics. But what exactly is the difference in those roasts, and why do we need to choose? Well, it really depends on preferences, but we still need to explain the different types of roasts in brief.

Light roast

Lightly roasted coffee beans fall somewhere close to when you hear the first crack. This is when the color of the coffee is at its lightest. On top of that, acidity is also at its highest here, and the coffee also carries a lighter type of flavor due to how caramelization is still at its early stages.

Medium roast

If you are going for a medium roast, you need to wait a short while after hearing the first crack and when the beans reach a temperature of somewhere close to 410 degrees. In some cases, the medium roast can be the middle point of the first and second cracks, but usually, anything beyond the first crack can be considered medium roast. This is one of the more popular levels of roasts because of how it blends a good level of acidity with a fuller yet unburnt flavor coming from the caramelized sugars.

Medium-dark roast

The medium-dark roast is almost just as popular as a medium roast, and it happens when the beans reach about 440 degrees Fahrenheit. You need to wait for signs leading up to the second crack for you to reach a medium-dark roast. The reason why some people prefer this over medium roast is that it has a fuller flavor.

Dark roast

French roast and Italian roast are considered dark roasts. This is when the coffee beans reach about 480 degrees Fahrenheit and have just about reached the second crack. At this point, the beans are at their lowest in terms of acidity and are fuller in flavor due to how all of the sugars in them have already caramelized. However, dark roasts usually taste the same regardless of their origins as most of the distinctive flavors and aromas that make certain coffee beans unique have already been burnt.

Getting the roasting process started

Before you get the actual roasting process started, here are the things you will be needing for roasting your coffee beans.

1. Green coffee

As mentioned, green coffee is the dried seeds that come from the red coffee fruit. This can be the most difficult part of roasting coffee because most of the coffee beans sold commercially have already been roasted. It will be difficult to find these in local grocery stores, so the best bet for you is to go to coffee shops with locally sourced beans. Even if such coffee shops sell pre-roasted beans, you may be able to find out where they are sourcing their green coffee beans from.

2. Roasting apparatus

Because there are plenty of different methods for you to roast your green coffee beans, the roasting apparatus will vary. We will discuss that in detail as we proceed with this article.

3. Container

The container will be used for storage right after you roasted your coffee beans. You need a container that is as airtight as possible to make sure that the beans are still fresh the moment you use them later on. However, you may want to use the beans as soon as possible and preferably not past a week after roasting them to ensure that they do not lose their flavor and aroma.

Different Coffee Roasting  methods

1. Using a roasting machine

The roasting machine is the easiest way for you to roast your coffee beans because these were actually designed and made for roasting coffee beans efficiently. In fact, these machines are what coffee shops use to roast their own coffee beans. Roasting machines act like popcorn machines in the sense that they use hot air to move the beans around and to make sure they are kept agitated while they are roasted.

Using a roasting machine varies depending on the type of machine you have. That is why you have to check the manual first before using the machine. When you already know how to use the roaster, you can practically leave the roasting to the machine. However, the important factor here is time. You have to take time into consideration because of the different types of roasts. Some coffee roasting machines have automatic functions that allow you to choose the type of roast you want. But, if you have a cheaper or more primitive roasting machine, you need to manually check the time and temperature while roasting the beans.

2.  Using a stove top popcorn maker

You can actually use a popcorn maker when you are roasting coffee beans because a coffee roasting machine functions in a similar manner to a popcorn maker. If you are using a stovetop popcorn maker, you need to make sure that you follow these steps:

  • Set the popcorn maker up on your stove and pre-heat it. You have to wait for the popcorn maker to reach the desired temperature before you place the coffee beans inside. It might be good for you to wait for the popcorn maker to reach 400 degrees. Waiting for about 5 minutes might be enough, but you can use a thermometer to make things easier on your part.
  • Add the coffee beans to the popcorn maker after it has already reached the right temperature. Try to move the beans as much as possible when adding them to the popcorn maker so that they are kept agitated the entire time.
  • Roast the beans and make sure that they are moving around a lot to evenly distribute the heat. What you have to consider here is that this can be a labor-intensive task that requires you to actually check up on the beans constantly instead of leaving them inside the popcorn maker. Pay attention to the different stages that the beans undergo through so that you can keep them at the roasting level you prefer. A thermometer also helps here.
  • Remove the beans from the popcorn maker after they reach the desired roasting level. You have to dump them into a baking sheet and wait for them to cool before storing them. Depending on how dark the roast is, you may need to wait for hours before storing them. For example, a dark roast coffee may need half a day of cooling before it can be stored safely.

3. Roast coffee beans in a pan

Everyone at home has a grill or a pan that is often used for cooking. That is why you should have no excuses as to why you are not able to roast your coffee beans. However, make sure that you are not using a non-stick pan because of how the Teflon or the coating can affect the flavor. Instead, use a cast iron pan.

  • The first thing you need to take into consideration is to maximize the ventilation in the room. You can use a fan and, of course, opening the window maximizes ventilation as well. You can even do the roasting outside. The reason for this is that roasting the coffee beans on a pan or grill can emit a lot of smoke, which can be too pungent.
  • Use a thick pan and heat it up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. It will be better to use a stove instead of an open fire so that it will be easier for you to reach the desired temperature.
  • Add the green coffee beans to the pan. Make sure that you do so gradually and that the layer of beans you add is shallow so as to make it easier for you to stir them around. Keep on stirring so that the beans are always agitated. This also keeps the beans evenly heated throughout the entire roasting process.
  • Listen to the cracks carefully so that you would know when to stop depending on the type of roast you want. The first crack may take you about 4 to 6 minutes from the moment you added the beans to the pan.
  • Remove the beans from the pan and dump them into a colander. Dump them from one colander to another to remove their husk. After that, allow the beans to cool for a span of about 12 hours or more depending on the type of roast. This allows them to de-gas. Store them in an airtight container after de-gassing them.

4. Roast coffee beans in an oven

Roasting your coffee beans in an oven is probably the easiest in terms of labor because of how it does not require a lot of work on your part. However, it can be pretty difficult for you to get the right kind of roast, and it might take a lot of time if you are roasting a lot of beans. Nevertheless, it is still a method you might want to consider using.

Pre-heat the oven to about 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure that the oven has its own ventilation system because this entire process can get pretty smoky.

Add a single layer of green coffee beans on a tray. Make sure that the beans do not stack up. The reason for this is for the beans to get evenly heated because of how there is no stirring involved here. As such, you can probably only roast a few beans at a time when using this method.

Try to place the tray on the middle portion of the oven because that is where the heat is at its most consistent in terms of distribution. This ensures that the beans are evenly heated on all sides.

Do not rest. Instead, keep yourself somewhere close to the oven so that you can hear the first crack. This will happen somewhere between 5 to 7 minutes after placing the tray of beans in the oven. From then on, timing is key when it comes to getting the right kind of roast you want.

Similar to the other ways of roasting the beans, transfer the roasted beans to a colander, and then move them from one colander to another to remove the husk. Let the gas vent out of the beans for about 12 hours before you store them in an airtight container.

How long does it take to roast coffee beans?

It depends on the type of roast you want and on the roasting method you are using. It usually takes a minimum of 3 minutes for the first crack, but it may take 4 to 5 minutes in some methods. Most of the time, coffee beans should not be roasted for more than 7 minutes if you want them to stay edible.

Once you have achieved your desired level of roast using your preferred roasting method, you have just completed the most basic step in preparing your own cup of morning Joe. Everything else after this will be easy and simple.


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