Well, I just received a new shipment of green coffee so I suppose it’s time to do a post on roasting coffee! With all the attention being paid these days to gourmet foods and the idea of making our own that is better (and fresher), one item that gets overlooked constantly is our coffee! We go to great lengths to create dessert masterpieces and then break out the bag of commercially roasted coffee from our cupboard to serve with it! How long has it been on the shelf? How long ago was it roasted before it even arrived at the store? Yeah… I’m not sure either!
One of the many things I enjoy about roasting my own coffee is the ability to try different beans from around the world and pairing them with my own creations. How about an earthy, full bodied Sumatra Mandheling to go along with that cheesecake? Or a Costa Rica La Minita (one of my favorites) to go with that cinnamon roll?
There are many places now to purchase green coffee beans. A quick google search will give you a good list. I have even bought beans on eBay!
There are a lot of different roasters out there that can fit any budget, but you can actually get started roasting coffee with things that you may already have! When I started roasting I used a stainless steel bowl, a Black and Decker heat gun and a wooden spoon! It actually works well… Another thing that you may have around the house that can be used is a hot air popcorn popper. What I currently use to roast my coffee is a stir crazy / convection oven combination. I use the bottom plate of a “Stir Crazy” popcorn popper (the 8 qt model) with the heating element disabled. The roasting is done by a “Galloping Gourmet” convection cooker which sits on top of the stir crazy. This set up will roast 1/2 to 1 lb of coffee at a time.
No matter what type of roaster you choose the objective is to heat the beans evenly to approximately 400f to 445f (depending on the roast level you prefer) I usually roast my coffee to a full city roast which is 435f.I believe that the easiest way to tell how your coffee is doing is by sound and smell. As the coffee is roasting, when the temperature of the beans gets close to 400 degrees the beans will start to pop. This is called First Crack and the sound resembles popcorn popping. If you stop the roast at this point you will end up with a Light Roast. If you continue roasting -the cracking will become more intense. (If you stop now, it would be a City Roast) If you continue on -the popping noise will die down and Second Crack will start. The best way to describe Second Crack is the sound of paper being crumpled. I usually stop roasting as soon as I hear second crack. Once you stop roasting, cool beans off by directing a fan into roasting area.