home coffee roasting in 8 easy steps

How To Roast Your Own Coffee Beans In 8 Easy Steps

August 9, 2021

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Any coffee lover would agree, there is nothing better than starting your morning with a coffee made from a fresh batch of roasted beans. Roasting your coffee is a great way to make sure you are drinking the best and freshest coffee you can get.

Roasting your own coffee isn’t a simple process but with a bit of effort you can learn to roast your own premium coffee every day. Owning the best home coffee roaster is a good place to start and will make a huge difference in your daily coffee drinking experience.

You may save some money roasting your own coffee beans. However, the biggest perk of roasting your coffee is that you are 100% assured of a fresh coffee made the way you like it!

Once you start roasting your coffee beans, you might not want to go back to your coffee vendor.

However, understand that you are not going to roast coffee like a professional roaster. The professional and commercial roasters use coffee roasting machines that cost thousands of dollars and carefully control the roasting process at each stage.

You are at home using your popcorn machine or a home coffee roaster. You may not have the expertise or expensive machinery, but you can still roast good coffee.

In this post, I’ll first look at the eight-step method for roasting your own coffee at home, discuss the 5 stages of roasting, and give you a quick shopping guide.

8 Easy Steps to Roast Your Own Coffee Beans

1. Use Good Quality Green Coffee Beans

You often don’t know the best green beans to get for your roasting, so you either get some good recommendations or experiment!

Experimenting with sample packs of green coffee beans is fun but does take extra time. Try green coffee beans from different countries or regions within countries.

Experiment with small lots until you become more confident in your choices. Sample packs are a great place to start since they normally include a variety of regions.

You can also use this as a learning experience to discover more about coffee, coffee farming, and coffee countries.

Store your green coffee beans in a dry sealed container, away from direct sunlight, away from moisture, and at room temperature (about 25°C or 77°F). The beans should last at least six months without deteriorating.

2. Select Your Roasting Equipment

The next thing to consider is your roasting equipment. The equipment you choose depends upon your experience, skill, budget, and enthusiasm for coffee roasting.

⚠️ Warning! You must take care and check the manufacturer’s recommendations with any equipment. You may also void any warranty for a machine that is not designed to roast coffee beans. ⚠️

Popcorn Machines

Popcorn machines can be used for more than popcorn. Corn is solid and similar to a coffee bean. If you are just starting out, then a popcorn machine may be just the thing for you. They are convenient and easy to buy. You can start with a simple model or go for more expensive machines.

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The problem with popcorn machines is that you can’t control the roast. This means that your roasts are likely to be inconsistent. You also need to ensure that the popcorn machine doesn’t have a bottom mesh because this can cause fires.

how to roast coffee in a popcorn machine
Roast Coffee with a Popcorn Popper

Aerogrills

We have heard of people using aerogrill (or aero grill) but I haven’t tried this method. You can always experiment with one but make sure the beans are stirred often, the fumes are controlled, and as always take care!

Do you want to experiment with these aerogrills to roast coffee?

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Skillets

You can use a skillet on your stove to roast coffee, but I don’t recommend using a home oven.

You need to keep the beans moving whilst roasting and you can do this in a skillet by simply stirring with a wooden spoon.

It is awkward and inconvenient to stir the beans in an oven. Not to mention the blast of hot air in your face every time you open the oven door.

Specialized Home Coffee Roasting Machines

If you are more experienced or you want more control over your roast, then you can opt for more sophisticated coffee roasting machines.

Of course, you are looking at more expense with these machines. However, you have much better control over the roasting temperature and time. Some of these machines also have preset coffee roasting profiles which can make them easier to use.

Here are some of the more specialized home coffee roasting machines

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We particularly like the Kaldi and the Sandbox Smart Home Coffee Roasters shown in the list above.

The Kaldi Home Coffee Roaster

The Kaldi roaster has good reviews and is reasonably priced. The Kaldi also includes a thermometer, hopper, probe rod, and chaff holder.

KALDI Home Coffee Roaster Motorize Type Full Package Including Thermometer, Hopper, Probe Rod, Chaff Holder (Gas Burner Required)
  • KALDI Motorize Coffee Roaster
  • Gas Burner Required
  • Body, Thermometer, Hopper, Probe Rod, Chaff Holder Included
  • Free Volt Adapter Included

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The hopper is nice and wide so it is easier to pour your coffee beans into the roaster and it is a probe rod that allows you to take samples from the machine without interrupting the roasting cycle.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t come with a gas burner or smoke suppression system.

Sandbox Smart Home Coffee Roaster

The Sandbox smart coffee roaster is one of the best home drum roasters available at the moment and uses new technology and great roasting designs. It also comes with an app for your phone that can connect to the roaster so you can track your beans as they roast.

Sandbox Smart Home Coffee Roaster Machine with Cooling Tray - Electric Direct Fired Beans Roasting For Home Use, Delivered via the App. 110V (Black)
  • Roast Your Beans with a Single Click: Roast coffee beans more easily and professionally! This smart coffee bean roaster will guide your step-by-step with professional instructions delivered via app.
  • Get Your Coffee Without the Mess: Is silverskin getting all over the table? It won’t with our roaster! A convenient drawer for collecting silverskin and excellent ventilation design in the cooling stray make sure your roasting experience stays neat and tidy.
  • Roasting with Peace of Mind: The drum of the coffee roaster is made of 304 stainless steel and the one in the cooling tray is made of 316 stainless steel.
  • All the Roasting Curves You Need: If you’re feeling a little uncertain about how to get started, let the handy built-in roasting curves (conveniently found in the app!) be your guide. Pre-programmed curves, advanced curves, community sharing curves, self-created curves, and historical curves are all at your fingertips!
  • What’s in the Box: Each set includes a coffee roaster, a cooling tray, a pair of resistant gloves, a brush for maintenance, a user manual, and a 1-year warranty.

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It is quiet and simple to use if you are new to roasting. All you have to do is pair your Bluetooth to this machine and select the roasting level you want from the app. You can either roast according to the selected profiles, or design your profile using the manual set-up.

The drum roaster then begins the roast according to your selected profiles and usually takes 9-13 minutes. The machine makes you register the first crack and then will finalize the roast so it can cool down. It is a small quarter-pound capacity machine but since the roasting process is pretty quick, you can roast enough for the week in one hour.

This model also comes with a detachable drum that makes it easy to add or take out coffee beans. It is also equipped with a drawer that collects chaff waste to make cleaning easier and heat resistant gloves and a brush to keep the inner chamber in check.

Finally, it includes a stainless-steel cooling tray that allows you to roast batch after batch without having to waste time waiting for the roaster to cool down. It is compact but rather heavy, weighing 15 pounds. The main drawback of this model is likely the steep price, but this is still one of the best home coffee roasters out there.

The Fresh Roast SR540 Roaster and the Behmor 2000AB Plus Home Coffee Roaster

The Fresh SR540 Roaster and Behmor 2000AB are two other home coffee roasters worth mentioning.

The Fresh SR540 is a nice compact machine for your home roasting. It can roast dark but it doesn’t have any smoke suppression system. If you want a dark roast then you will need to make sure your roaster is near a good exhaust fan or is outside. You can control the fan speed, temperature, and time of your roast so it is possible to develop your own basic roast profiles.

SR540 home coffee roaster

The Behmor 2000AB roasts up to a pound of green coffee beans. You can choose from up to five different roast profiles. It has a good system for suppressing smoke. However, you can’t do any dark roasts with this machine.

behmor home coffee roaster

 

3. Roasting Area

Roasting coffee beans results in smoke and pungent smells that aren’t that great to have around your house. Consequently, you need to carefully choose your roasting area.

You can use your garage, kitchen, patio, or backyard. But make sure you have good ventilation to remove smoke and smells.

4. Roast Your Coffee Beans

Measure the right quantity for the capacity of your roasting equipment and start roasting.

Popcorn machines take about 8 to 12 minutes to roast your coffee beans. You can’t control the temperature as this is set by the machine, but you can decide when to stop roasting.

Home coffee drum roasters take about 14–20 minutes and you can control the time and temperature in some models.

5. Pay Attention To The Crack Signal

When roasted the coffee bean cell wall burst and results in a ‘popping’ noise or crack. We discuss this later. You can use this popping noise to help you determine the roasting stage.

Depending on the type of coffee you want, you have to pay attention to the crack sounds. You can stop roasting at the first crack or continue until you have your desired roast.

6. Cool Your Roasted Coffee Beans and sieve out the chaff

After roasting you need to let the coffee beans cool. You can spread the beans thinly on any flat surface to cool quickly.

As you roast the coffee beans, they slough off a very fine brown skin called chaff. You can sieve the chaff from the cooled coffee beans.

Alternatively, you can use a coffee cooling machine that contains a fan and sieves.

JIAWANSHUN 1.1lb Coffee Bean Cooler Electric Coffee Roasting Cooling Machine No scattered Chaff for Home Coffee Use (110V, black)
  • 👍POWERFUL FAN---The roasting cooling machine can cool 1.1 pounds of coffee beans in 2 minutes to prevent over-roasting and firmly lock the flavor of roasted coffee.
  • 👍DOUBLE-LAYERED SPACE---Put coffee beans in the upper layer, absorb the chaff in the lower layer, constantly agitate the coffee beans to make the chaff fall into the lower screen, perfect for the home coffee roaster/enthusiast.
  • 👍COMPLETELY SILENT---We use high-performance motors, the machine hardly makes any sound while generating strong wind. You can use it in any space, allowing you to enjoy a comfortable coffee time in the afternoon.
  • 👍EASY TO CLEAN---After the beans are cooled, use a cleaning cloth to wipe the screen clean. The chaff in the lower screen can be poured directly into the trash can. The chaff will not enter the fan, extending its service life.
  • 👍STURDY&WELL MADE---The base of the machine weighs up to 6lb, which is full of weight and durable. The box size is 9.5x9.5x8.9in, which takes up less space and is easy to store. It is a necessary kitchen utensil.

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7. Storing and Degassing Roasted Coffee Beans

Oxygen, light, heat, and water each interact with chemicals in coffee beans to change their flavor. Consequently, you should keep your newly roasted coffee beans away from light, dry, at room temperature (about 25°C), and in an airtight container.

The best way is to store roasted coffee beans is in a sealed, foiled-lined bag, with a degassing valve.

However, an airtight container will also work but don’t fill it to the top. You need some room for gas to escape.

Roasted coffee beans expel carbon dioxide during storage. You shouldn’t use your coffee beans to make coffee until degassing has finished. Degassing takes about 3 to 4 days.

8. Grind and Enjoy

This is the most anticipated step of all. The fruit of all your labor.

Measure and grind your coffee beans according to your brewing method.

Stages of Roasting Coffee

What should you expect when roasting your own coffee beans?

Roasting coffee consists of about 5 stages. The professional roaster carefully monitors each stage with temperature probes, by listening to the roast, and by inspecting the color of the beans. They also carefully control the roasting temperature.

It takes up to about 15 minutes to roast coffee.

You may not have all the gear of a professional roaster, but you can still listen to your roast, control temperature, and monitor your roast.

Stage 1. Drying Stage

Raw coffee beans contain about 10 to 12% water. The water gives the raw coffee bean a ‘grassy’ flavor so it needs to be removed during roasting.

Water gradually evaporates during the initial stages of roasting and needs to be removed before browning occurs.

Once the water has been driven out the coffee beans have a yellow tinge.

The initial temperature for this stage in a professional roaster is from 210 to 220°C (410 to 428°F). However, when coffee beans are added to a machine the temperature drops and this stage lasts about 1 to 3 minutes at temperatures from 90 to 110°C (194 to 230°F).

Stage 2. Browning

At this stage, the color of the coffee beans begins to turn from yellow to light brown and signals the start of important chemical reactions.

These reactions include the Maillard reaction and caramelization. These are important reactions because they create many of the flavor and aroma characteristics of coffee.

This stage is reached 4 to 8 minutes into the roast and at temperatures from 110 to 165°C (230 to 329°F) with professional roasting machines.

Stage 3. The first crack

The first crack occurs when the build-up of steam and carbon dioxide during Stage 2 increases the pressure within the coffee bean. The increased pressure causes the cell wall of the bean to expand and crack. You can hear this ‘first crack’ as a popping noise.

Very light roast coffees are produced during or just after the first crack. If you want a very light roast, then you stop roasting at this stage.

This stage is reached 10 to 12 minutes into the roast and at a temperature of about 175°C (347°F).

Stage 4. Roast Development

After the first crack, the coffee beans can be roasted to achieve the type of roast you want.

The time you stop roasting during this stage will determine whether you make light or medium roast coffee.

The better tasting medium or espresso roast coffee beans are roasted until they have a satin brown sheen.

This stage is reached at 9 to 14 minutes into the roast and at temperatures from 165 to 185°C (329 to 365°F).

Stage 5. Second Crack

At this stage, any remaining water inside the coffee beans evaporates and the beans undergo a ‘second crack’.

The coffee becomes a darker brown, releases aromatic chemicals, and the remaining sugars in the bean break down.

You don’t want to roast for too long after the second crack because the coffee bean will produce bitter-tasting coffee.

Dark roast coffee beans are made during this stage.

This stage occurs from 13 to 15 minutes and at temperatures from 185 to 200°C (365 to 392°F).

Buyer’s Guide

The right type of home coffee roaster you want will depend on your personal preferences but here is a list of some factors you should consider before making a purchase.

Size of Roaster

Depending on the home coffee roaster you purchase, they will be able to roast different amounts of coffee beans at once. As a general rule, air roasters tend to be best for small batches while drum roasters are best for roasting larger batches at one time. If you plan to roast many small batches a week, then a smaller air roaster may be better. However, if you want to roast large quantities, then a drum roaster may be the best for you.

Control

Depending on how you plan to roast coffee beans at home, control may matter more for your roasting process. As a general rule, the more expensive the roaster the more control you will have over how your coffee beans are roasted. However, even cheaper models usually have adjustable time and temperature controls.

Once you move up the ladder and get into some of the higher-end home coffee roasters, you will get more customizable roasting controls that will give your beans just that extra bit of consistency. However, some new coffee roasters may be happy with selecting a roast profile and letting it roast away without thinking about it too much.

Cooling

After your coffee beans have finished roasting, they must start to cool down. You should note that they usually will continue to heat because the chamber will still be warm. As such, the proper cooling features are imperative.

The average coffee roaster will just let the cool air blow through the roasting chamber once the beans are done. If you purchase a pricier home coffee roaster machine, it may come with a detachable tray that you release your beans onto, which lets them cool much quicker. This is a massive bonus for those who want to make sure their beans do not roast too much or burn.

Smoke Suppression

Most coffee roasters produce a lot of smoke during roasting and this needs to be immediately removed. If the roaster doesn’t have a smoke suppression system or any additional ventilation then you need to roast outdoors, in a well-ventilated garage, or patio.

A smoke suppression system will allow you to roast indoors but it is usually only available in more expensive roasting machines.

Cleaning and Maintenance

This should go without saying but it is much more convenient to purchase a machine that is easy to clean. Some roasters also come in stainless steel which limits the time you spend scrubbing the machine.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Is coffee roasting dangerous?

Coffee roasting is potentially dangerous in the same way cooking can be dangerous. Fire, heat, and smoke are the main dangers when roasting your own coffee.

Make sure you do the proper research and follow instructions, so you do not fall prey to any safety hazards. Some of these hazards include burns and the steam/smoke that comes out of the machine.

The smoke produced by the machine is dangerous and can cause respiratory problems. However, you can control the smoke by roasting in a well-ventilated place or have a smoke suppression system.

How long do coffee beans last?

Although they will never go bad in the way your milk goes bad when it expires, coffee beans will begin to taste stale after a relatively short while. It’s usually a good idea to use your freshly roasted beans within 10 days, so you always enjoy the freshest flavor. After all, enjoying fresher coffee is the reason for home coffee roasting.

You can extend the life of your coffee beans by storing in an airtight container in a cool dry place or even vacuum pack and freeze your coffee beans.

Is it more expensive or cheaper to roast at home?

It depends. If you continually roast your coffee then it may save you money. However, when you decide to roast your own coffee you do it because you want your own unique roast. It isn’t really an issue of saving money on pre-roasted coffee beans.

Conclusion

Roasting your own coffee beans at home is not difficult. Obviously, you are not going to roast coffee like a professional, but it is interesting and fun!

More importantly, you are assured of a fresh coffee made the way you like it!

Roasting and then brewing your own coffee is also an opportunity to learn more about what makes good coffee. And if you want to learn even more about home roasting read these books

Home Coffee Roasting, Revised, Updated Edition: Romance and Revival
  • Davids, Kenneth (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 256 Pages - 11/20/2003 (Publication Date) - St. Martin's Griffin (Publisher)
SALE!
The Coffee Roaster's Handbook: A How-To Guide for Home and Professional Roasters
  • Brault, Len (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 170 Pages - 08/25/2020 (Publication Date) - Rockridge Press (Publisher)

Last update on 2021-09-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

And if you want an insight into how the professionals roast coffee then I recommend David Rosa’s beautiful and informative book ‘The Artisan Roaster.’

It doesn’t matter if you don’t get it right on the first attempt. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Keep trying again, and again.

One day you just might discover your perfect roast. Nothing tastes better than a freshly made coffee, especially one made by you.

Similar Posts

If you want to read a personal account about home coffee roasting then please read our post on the Ultimate Guide to Home Coffee Roasting.


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