The Skillet Method (a Wok is acceptable too!)
Features: Fun and easy. Cheap and definitely "old school." This is the method I used to roast Tanzanian Peaberry (they roll nicely in the pan) 10 years ago. I thought I was the only person in the world roasting at home. This is better as an experiment, or for you cowboys and mountain men out there; the other methods produce better cup quality. It's easy to scorch the beans and produce uneven roasts. The pan needs to be covered and the beans need to be stirred without removing the pan from the flame (i.e. shaking the pan) ...not easy to do! But it doesnt cost much to give it a try! Even experienced roasters should try it once. You learn a lot by having the whole roast process unfold in front of your eyes...
What You Need: Any lightweight skillet with a good tight lid, or a heavy skillet for a real aerobic workout. (You might also try a Wok and agitate with a wooden spoon. With good technique, this method can produce fine results.) Gas or Electric stove. An oven thermometer . A big spoon, a big bowl or metal collander for cooling, and oven mitts.
- Turn on your stovetop exhaust fan, or open a kitchen window. Have all your supplies within reach.
- Measure out about 9 ounces of coffee by weight, or 12 ounces by volume for a large skillet.
- Preheat skillet over low flame / medium electric burner setting with the lid on. An Oven thermometer placed inside can tell you when you have reached 500 degrees. Stabilize at 500.
- Remove the thermometer, toss your beans in there, put the lid on tight, and armed with oven mits, start shakin'.
- This is the most intuitive, rough and tumble (literally) roasting method. Keep the beans in motion. Listen for the "first crack" and smell for smoke around 5 minutes. Wait a minute and lift the lid to check the color.
- It's easy to scorch the coffee by using too much heat, so it's better to taper off a little after the crack. Check color every minute or so.
- You want to pour the beans out of the skillet into the collander when they are a tad lighter than the color you desire, since roasting continues until beans are cool.
- Agitate beans in metal collander or bowl with a big spoon until they are warm to your touch. You may need oven mitts for this. You may want to walk out to a porch to aid cooling.
- If beans have light colored chaff still attached to them, simply agitating them in the collander should remove it. If you blow lightly on the beans the chaff will fly off, but do this outside or over a sink to avoid sweeping the floor.
- Coffee should be stored out of direct light (and not in a fridge or freezer) in an airtight glass jar, but with a fresh roast, wait 12 hours to seal the jar tightly; it needs to vent off C02.
- Warm, fresh roasted beans are wonderful, but the coffee attains its
peak 4 to 24 hours after roasting. If you store it as recommended, we'll
call it fresh for 6 days. When you open that jar in the morning, you will
know what fresh coffee truly is.
Refinements: Use another method. Skillet roasting is fun and barbarous, but I must admit, after a while you can become quite intuitive and produce some good roasts. But in the meantime you'll ruin many good beans. Air Popper is 93% foolproof! I have had more success using a Wok than a skillet. Still, I am not a talented person with the Wok technique. But I know someone who has great success because he uses a wood-type stove and the Wok sits in a opening that exposes about 2/3 of its bottom surface area to heat. That means the coffee has more even contact with heat more consistenly than on a stovetop range, and the results are very good, so I hear. And he roasts 1 Lb. at a time...