You’ve loved coffee for years. It got you to your 8 a.m. in college and saved you during some stressful all-nighters. It gave you that necessary, afternoon pick-me-up at work.
Somewhere in your coffee journey you realized that you don’t need sugar and cream to make coffee taste good. Black coffee tastes great on its own.
But black coffee only tastes great when its fresh and flavorful. Now you're on a mission to get the freshest, most flavorful coffee possible.
Maybe you’ve bought fresh beans from a local coffee shop or grind your own at home. These are great first steps to making the best coffee, but why stop there? Why not roast your own coffee at home?
Roasting coffee at home lets you experiment with different origins, blends, and roast levels. You have a chance to put on your coffee scientist hat and explore everything coffee has to offer, taking full control of your morning cup. The best part? You can drink fresh coffee whenever you want.
How to Start Roasting Coffee at Home
This journey can seem overwhelming, but it’s definitely worth it. Just take a deep breath and remember, it’s not about perfection. It’s about enjoying the process, learning more about coffee, and roasting fresh, flavorful coffee that you love.
Now, let's get started!
First you'll have to choose a roast method. The top four roasting methods are roasting on the stovetop, in the oven, popcorn machine, or a home coffee roaster. We'll go into more detail about each method in a second.
Next, set up a roasting space. You’ll want an area with good ventilation. Roasting can be a smoky experience. An area with an extractor fan, open window, or open garage is perfect.
Finally, decide what beans you want to roast and what roast level you want to take them to. Once you’ve nailed down all the details, you’re ready to roast!
Four Different Home Coffee Roasters
What’s the first step in your home roasting journey? Choosing a coffee roaster. Where you’re at in your coffee journey informs what kind of roaster you'll want. Before you decide, let’s walk through the top four types of home coffee roasters.
1. Roasting on the Stovetop
Roasting coffee in a skillet is one of the most inexpensive ways to start your coffee roasting journey. Using materials you already have at home, you’ll only need to choose which green coffee beans to buy.
While this method is incredibly fast, convenient, and inexpensive, it’s not the easiest for beginners. Finding the perfect roast temperature and getting a consistent roast will take some trial and error, but experimenting is part of the journey.
Most important, remember to agitate the beans throughout the whole process, stirring consistently to get an even roast. This tip applies to any methods where the beans aren’t automatically agitated.
2. Roasting in the Oven
Here’s another inexpensive, convenient way to roast coffee at home. All you need is a pan with tiny holes, or parchment paper and a regular pan, some green coffee beans, and you’re set!
If you’re roasting coffee in the oven, preheat it to 500F, spread one layer of beans on a pan, and stir them throughout the roast.
Don’t forget to open some windows for ventilation! This roasting style does take a little more time than others and can be difficult to get an even roast.
3. Roasting in a Popcorn Machine
A tried-and-true method for most beginners, the popcorn machine is simple, easy-to-use, and gets you an even roast. It’s important to note that because popcorn machines weren’t made to roast coffee beans, they can break after a few roasts. But if you’re just getting into home roasting, the popcorn machine is a great place to start.
4. Roasting in a Home Coffee Roaster
If you’re ready to jump into coffee roasting head first, invest in a beginner home coffee roaster. These will give you the best control over the roasting process with presets to choose from, a manual option, and larger bean capacity.
Built for roasting coffee beans, these home roasters are long lasting, simple to use, and a great investment, but only if you’re ready for that next stage of roasting. Some great home coffee roasters to choose from are the Fresh Roast SR540, Fresh Roast SR800, and Behmor 2000AB Plus.
Basic Tips for Home Roasting
Now that you've chosen how to roast your coffee beans, let's dive into some basic tips to get you roasting!
Choosing the Right Green Coffee Beans
For starters, your unroasted coffee beans can be stored for up to a year (in proper storage containers) without going stale. Green coffee beans are entirely different than their roasted counterparts, so they can’t be ground or brewed. You can try, but just know we warned you. It won't be a tasty experience.
Remember, you won’t get the roast perfect on your first or maybe even second try. Enjoy the process of experimentation. Explore all the different flavor profiles the beans have to offer. Take advantage of your learning curve to discover what you like.
Before you settle on just one coffee to try, choose one of our sample packs and explore coffees that the world has to offer. Feel free to reach out to our staff with any questions you may have. We’re more than happy to walk you through the different coffee beans, sample packs, roasters, and more.
Set the temperature, fill your roaster with beans, and make sure you have some way to dispose of the chaff. Now, get ready to roast!
Stages of Roasting
The first stage of roasting is called yellowing. Also known as the drying stage, this is the time when the moisture in the beans starts to evaporate. Depending on your method of roasting, you’ll need your roaster to be between 350-500 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure you keep agitating the beans, stirring them so they don’t burn.
The second stage is called the browning stage. This is the most important stage where all the chemical reactions happen. The Maillard reaction, caramelization, Strecker degradation, all combine to create the delightful, aromatic flavor profiles that you’ll love.
Within the first 3-5 minutes of your roast, you should hear an audible crack. That means your coffee beans have reached a light roast.
The second crack occurs when all the water evaporates from the bean and there’s too much CO2 for the bean to handle. The sugars are breaking down, creating a more bitter, less acidic coffee. Once the bean reaches the second crack, it’s considered a medium roast. Go much further and you’ll reach a dark roast.
Want to learn more about each roast type? Check out our light roast guide, medium roast guide, and dark roast guide to achieve your best roast possible!
When the beans are done roasting, quickly cool them down in a metal colander, sieve or baking paper of your choice. You can easily remove any remaining chaff by pouring the beans into a sieve and blowing cold air onto the coffee, stirring the beans up and separating them from the chaff.
Before you get to enjoy your masterpiece, let them de-gas for at least 12 hours (although you can wait up to 3 days). If you don’t de-gas your beans before sealing them away for storage, the container will become pressurized from the CO2 in the beans, popping the lid off, damaging the container, and ruining the beans' flavor. In other words, ruin your hard work.
Roasting coffee at home is a great hobby. But once you taste your first home roast, you’ll never be able to go back to store bought beans. Don’t say we didn’t warn you!
If your first roast or second roast or even third roast doesn't go the way you want, don't be discouraged. Roasting is a journey. The further along you go, the more you’ll realize you have to learn. But that’s the fun part!
Stay consistent so you can learn the tricks of the trade and always be ready to learn, improve, and explore everything coffee has to offer.