If you are serious about coffee, you know the fresher the roast, the better the taste. How much fresher can you get than home roasting your beans? Plus, wouldn’t it be great to respond to your friend’s “great coffee!” remarks with “thanks, I roasted it myself.”

There are plenty of ‘home-roaster’ manufacturers standing by to take your money. But for those of you who just want to test the waters and keep it simple, I am happy to report that all you need is a heavy pan, green coffee beans, and a wooden spoon. Oh, and an bloody good ventilation: coffee is a spitting, steam-producing dragon in the kitchen, and good ventilation is an absolute must.

 What you need:

–       Green coffee beans

–       Metal bowl

–       Dutch Oven or deep pan, preferably cast iron

–       Wooden Spoon

–       Colander

1)    Place the large metal bowl in the freezer to chill. Activate your kitchen’s best ventilation: open windows and doors, turn on fans—whatever you have. This is a must!

2)    Place the beans in the pan and place over medium heat, and start stirring with a sturdy wooden spoon. (I recommend using an uncovered Dutch oven with a heavy bottom for roasting your beans: the high sides will help reduce the mess from the popping coffee hulls. However, if you don’t have one, a cast-iron or other heavy skillet will suffice.

3)    You will need to stir constantly throughout the entire roasting process: you are trying to keep the heat as even as possible among all of the beans throughout the roast.

4)    After about 5 minutes, the beans will begin to crack and smoke. About 10 minutes more and the beans will be turning chestnut in colour: a very light roast. 10-15 minutes beyond that (30 minutes total), and you’ll have a dark, nearly black roast. If you like a medium roast, you’ll stop somewhere in the middle. Note that you need to take the beans off the heat a little bit before they turn the colour you like: they will continue to roast a little after you stop the cooking process.

5)    Once the beans are just a shade lighter than the colour you desire, take them off the heat. They will continue to colour slightly until you pour them into the chilled bowl and stir constantly for about 3 minutes. Rotate the bowl to cool down the beans quickly and evenly. Then pour the beans into a colander, place the colander over the bowl, and stir for another minute or so to sift out the flyaway hulls.

6)    Your coffee is ready to be ground and brewed as usual. Remember: Freshly roasted coffee beans release carbon dioxide. It’s best to let them rest for 24 hours before storing or using them, as that’s when the beans will reach their peak flavour.

I love the process of roasting coffee. It’s a very sensory process – you work based on the sound the beans are making, on the smell, on the smoke they produce.

As the beans start to roast, it smells quite earthy and grassy…maybe a bit like popcorn. That gives way to an ever richer, deeper smell that begins to smell like coffee.



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