My daughter, who is in first grade, recently came home from school with a sign that she had made for me saying, “coffee makes my life better.” She hung the sign on my coffee station in my dining room when she got home. It was a wonderful gift because coffee does make my life better.
For many of us, coffee is more than a drink…its an experience. Why else would they make so many memes about coffee? Coffee isn’t uniquely American, either. Coffee is enjoyed and experienced all around the world by many people in many cultures.
For many people, me included, cultivating the perfect cup of coffee at home brings a sense of accomplishment and joy. Here at Makers Make Stuff, we’ve talked about how to grind coffee beans and how to make French press and cold brew coffee. Today, we round out our coffee series as we learn about why you can and should roast your coffee beans fresh at home!
Why Roast Your Coffee Beans at Home?
I know what you’re thinking, why go through the trouble of roasting my coffee beans at home when I can buy whole coffee beans at the store. I hear you but stick with me.
First, we are just that extra here at Makers Make Stuff. We like to go through the trouble of trying and doing everything from scratch. I imagine you do too. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be here with us.
Second, roasting your coffee beans at home all but guarantees the freshest cup of coffee possible. When you buy whole roasted coffee beans at the store, while better than buying ground coffee, you have no idea how fresh those coffee beans are. Roasting beans at home ensures fresh and delicious coffee every time.
Lastly, it’s cheaper to buy raw coffee beans and roast them at home than it is to buy whole beans for grinding. Even after setup costs and buying a home coffee bean roaster, you will save money in the long term. Assuming you drink coffee daily.
How to Roast Coffee Beans at Home:
The first thing you will need when preparing to roast coffee at home is to find somewhere to buy raw coffee beans. They can be difficult to buy locally, but they are widely available online. After you’ve chosen your raw coffee beans, you need to decide on a roasting method.
There are two types of Coffee Bean Roasters.
Today, air roasting is the most common type of roaster used to roast coffee beans. Even commercial facilities prefer the air roasted method. With an air roaster, the coffee beans are heated to a specific temperature, usually 450 degrees. The raw coffee beans sit on a pillow of hot air while they roast to their desired darkness. If you’ve ever used an air popper for popcorn, that is essentially what an air roaster does.
Fun fact, you can use an air popper to roast coffee beans at home!
Trying your air popper first is helpful if you’re not ready to invest in your first countertop coffee roaster.
Benefits of the Air Roasters
As coffee beans roast, their skins crack and come off of the beans. In an air roaster, the skin is pushed up and away from the coffee beans by the circulating hot air. This makes it easier to remove the skins from the finished product. Usually, the skins can be bitter or even burn, so it’s nice to be able to remove them easily with an air roaster.
Air roasting coffee gives you the most consistent heat and roasting times while avoiding any burnt flavors from the skins as the beans roast.
Cons of Air Roasters
Countertop air roasters can be expensive. For someone looking to try out roasting raw coffee beans, the upfront investment of an air roaster might be offputting. If you can get your hands on a cheap or used popcorn air popper, try that first. You can roast small amounts of coffee beans using an air popper. Instead of collecting popcorn in the bowl, your bowl collects coffee bean skins as they rise up and out of the air popper.
The drum roaster uses a metal basket or drum, which rotates to stir the coffee beans as they heat over a heating element. If you have a home rotisserie attachment for your backyard grill or your toaster oven, a drum roaster would be an easy and inexpensive way to try roasting coffee beans at home.
Benefits of Drum Roasters
Drum roasting is the traditional method for roasting coffee beans. Many people love the flavors added to the coffee beans by using alternative heat sources such as a fire or a grilling element. If you own a smoker, you could even try roasting your coffee beans over your smoker grill and see what flavors you get. Drum roasting is also considerably more affordable if you only need to purchase the drum and the raw beans.
Cons of Drum Roasters
Drum roasters often lead to inconsistent roasting times, with some of your beans roasting darker than others. Often with drum roasting, the skins don’t shed away from the beans as well, and they can burn and alter the flavor of your coffee. It’s much easier to control the roasting level (dark roast vs. light roast) when using an air roaster.
Recommended Coffee Roasters
We’ve reviewed what’s available out there, and here are our recommendations for both air and drum roasters.
For the home coffee roaster looking for a step up from an air popper, the newest model from Fresh Roast will suit your coffee roasting purposes beautifully. The container can roast up to 4oz of raw coffee at a time with 9 different temperature settings. The consistent airflow from the fan sends the coffee bean skins up and out of the roasting compartment into a separate collection chamber. At $189.00 this coffee roaster would pay for itself after 8lbs of freshly roasted coffee beans which average $23.00 per pound.
With this air coffee roaster, you can roast not only larger quantities of raw coffee beans, but you can also pop popcorn, roast peanuts, dry fruit, and more! Multiple air vents and the air fan help moisture to evaporate during the roasting process. This roaster includes a digital display with a timer so you can set the timer to get your desired coffee roast.
If you already have a rotisserie on your grill or your toaster oven, this coffee bean drum roaster would be an affordable addition to your set up. In addition to coffee, you can drum roast peanuts, dry teas, and more! Priced at $24.99 this is an affordable roaster for you to try your hand at roasting coffee beans at home. If you don’t have a rotisserie set up, you may want to consider an alternative drum roaster. This drum roaster allows you to have more flexibility over the type of heating element you use.
Dyvee Gas Burner Coffee Roaster
If you have a gas burner on your stove, a travel gas burner, or a gas burner on your outdoor grill, this quartz glass drum roaster would help you to create beautifully roasted fresh coffee at home. This coffee roaster is easy to use and easy to clean and is one of the most traditional methods of using a drum roaster to roast coffee. The clear glass roaster allows you to see and monitor the color of your coffee beans as they roast.
How to Roast Coffee at Home
Whether you choose to purchase a coffee roaster, try using an air popcorn popper, or dry roast coffee beans in a pan on your stove, its a simple process. Add your raw coffee beans to your roaster of choice. The ideal temperature is somewhere around 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Watch your coffee beans as they start to change from green to tan to light brown to dark brown. As coffee beans roast and become darker, you will need to watch closely for burning as there is a fine line between dark roasted coffee and burnt coffee.
Once roasting is finished, you will need to let your coffee beans cool completely. Once cooled, store them uncovered or loosely covered for 24 hours and then store in an airtight container. Freshly roasted coffee beans are best when used within 5 days after the initial 24 hour resting period.
Enjoying Your Coffee at Home
Whether you plan to share your coffee skills with friends and family, or keep it to yourself as a regular self-care routine, learning how to buy, roast, and brew your own delicious cup of coffee can save you money and satisfy that DIY urge that many of us have.