How to Roast Coffee Beans At Home

Roasting your own coffee beans at home is a super fun, and will ensure that you always end up with the freshest coffee roasted just the way you like. But how to roast coffee beans at home? Keep reading to find out 5 expert tips to begin your home roasting journey

The Rise Of Home Roasting

Home roasting is growing in popularity and there are more small-batch, affordable roasting machines on the market now than ever before. Roasting your own coffee is a great way to save money while enjoying a unique and fascinating hobby. Developing the knowledge and skill required to master the art of roasting will keep you busy for years, but most people are able to roast tasty coffee after just a few practice roasts.

Imagine being able to enjoy a wide variety of expertly roasted coffees from your favorite origin without ever leaving the comfort of your own kitchen. You’ll start out as a hobbyist, but your friends and family will learn your coffee is the best in town and will demand you keep them stocked with fresh roasted beans. Many people who are now professional coffee roasters and owners of successful roasting companies started off as hobbyist roasters in their own kitchen.

Whether you have ambitions to become a coffee roasting professional or not, home roasting is a great hobby. With time and experience you’ll learn to master different roasting styles and target the specific profiles for each different bean that you roast.

How to Roast Coffee Beans At Home

This guide to roasting coffee at home will help you jump start your learning process to get you roasting fast.

1. Buy high quality coffee (and pay a fair price for it)

As a roaster you can ruin a great coffee, but you can’t improve the quality of an inferior coffee.

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Growing coffee is a major undertaking and the people who do it well are foundation of the global coffee industry. These farmers have dedicated their lives to producing high quality, great tasting coffee beans, and they’re livelihood depends on the per pound price they receive in exchange for their efforts.

If you want to be a good coffee roaster, start with good coffee and pay what it’s worth. For more information on the challenges facing coffee farmers today and how to pay a fair price for coffee, check out this information from the Specialty Coffee Association.

2. Understand the roasting process

The art of roasting is in the details and procedures followed by the roaster. Tiny changes in heat application, airflow, and other parameters alter the rate at which chemical changes occur in the coffee beans and this can have a major impact on the flavor of the finished product. As a home roaster, your goal is to manage the rate and timing of these chemical changes to produce a balanced flavor profile in your coffee.

Learning to control the full range of chemical processes and physical changes during roasting is a lifelong endeavor. Fortunately for you as a home roaster, it’s possible to simplify this vast topic by grouping these processes into three main stages of the roasting process. These stages are easily observed without any high tech devices, using only your sense of hearing, smell, and sight and can be used as meaningful guide to controlling flavor development in the roaster.

3. Choose the right roasting equipment

Precise management of the different phases in roasting requires a bit of skill, but it also requires a machine that provides a level of control that allows the roaster to make adjustments to temperature and even roasting time. More advanced roasters will also want to control things like airflow and rotation speed, but these are unnecessary as a beginner.

These days there are many affordable equipment options available to home roasters, and they all have their strong points and their deficiencies. No matter what machine you choose, make sure that it provides at least the following features:

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User controls for changing the total roasting time.

Some less expensive roasting devices on the market use a thermostat as the only means of controlling the roast. The heating element turns on at the beginning of the roast and continues to add heat until the beans reach a set temperature. Though you can still get okay coffee with this type of machine, it will not allow you to have any control over the roasting process. If you want to create different roast profiles for specific beans (and, you definitely do), then time controls are a minimal requirement.

Adjustable temperature settings.

As your knowledge of roasting increases you’ll want to be able to manipulate not only the duration of the roast, but also the way you apply heat to the beans. Detailed control of heat application is the central tenet of profile roasting (the practice of creating specific roast recipes for each individual coffee).

A rapid cooling cycle that brings the coffee beans down to room temperature within five minutes after roasting.

Many home roasting devices have a roasting chamber that holds the beans through the entire roasting cycle including cooling. During the roast cycle an element heats the air that is drawn into the roaster by a fan. When the roast cycle ends, the element turns off and the fan draws in unheated air to cool the beans.

This is a fine way to manage cooling, but not all roasting machines achieve the goal of proper cooling with this method. Poorly designed roasting machines allow the beans to stay hot for too long. If the roasted coffee stays hot for longer than a few minutes after roasting, the flavor will be muted and the coffee will go stale more quickly.

Whatever cooling method your roaster uses, make sure it brings the roasted beans below 100 degrees Fahrenheit within five minutes of the end of the roast cycle.

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5. Roast coffee that you like to drink

If you want to roast coffee at home, it’s because you love the taste coffee, right? Everyone has their own idea of what tastes good, so use your preference to guide your roasting process. One of the biggest mistakes that roasters make is paying too much attention to theory and numbers, and forgetting to taste their coffee.

By implementing a basic quality control procedure, you can use your own tastebuds as a powerful tool in developing the perfect roast profile.

Whether you’re a home hobbyist, or your in charge of a high volume commercial roasting plant, great roasting is determined by great tasting coffee. In its most basic form, your quality control plan should involve roasting a batch, tasting it and recording your experience, and then using that data to inform changes on your next roast. With a little bit of practice and a lot of experimentation, this process will lead you to coffee that matches your tastes.

Related: Different Types of Coffee Roasts

To wrap up …

Following the steps in this guide will enable you to become a proficient roaster and enjoy fresh roasted coffee every day in your own kitchen. The only downside is that you’ll never again be able to enjoy stale coffee off the supermarket shelf.

Buy good green coffee, choose a quality roasting machine, and use your own tastebuds to inform your process. You’ll be an expert roaster in no time!

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