Home coffee roasting is as fun and easy, or as exacting and technical, as you want to make it. You can be a barbarian and roast in a skillet (as I used to do), or buy a fancy professional sample roaster. Don't be afraid of crackling coffee beans and pay attention to the process, especially toward the end of the roast. Either way you will make friends and influence people (maybe).
The basic process is simple: take green (unroasted) coffee and turn it brown. There are many ways to roast coffee, from custom made home appliances, to simple pan roasting, or re-purposing a hot air popcorn popper.
Roasting time varies depending on the method: convection roasting (a hot air popcorn popper or a small dedicated home roaster) takes about 8 to 12 minutes. Conduction roasting (a skillet or cookie sheet in an oven, or a small drum roaster) takes about 14 to 18 minutes. Read more about the roasting process here...
There are many ways to roast coffee. The method you choose should be influenced 1) how much roasted coffee you need and 2) how much money you want to spend. Whether you choose a D.I.Y. approach or a
small appliance matters depends mostly on how you like to approach things, and if you want more or less automation.
Do-It-Yourself Methods The D.I.Y. approach is a great way to get started, especially if you can re-purpose an electric hot air Popcorn Popper that you have in a cupboard, or can find second-hand. You can even find them cheaply in a hardware store, Target or Wal-Mart usually. You can also use a skillet, a stovetop popper, or a cookie sheet in the oven. These latter methods roast less evenly and require some technique to get good results, that is why we recommend the air popper method.
Home Coffee Roasting Appliances An appliance gives you a built-in timer, a way to collect chaff, and (depending on the model) some control over the temperature and air flow. Some models have smoke suppression. Air roasters take less than 10 minutes, roast very evenly without scorching, and are better for small amounts of coffee. The advantages of drum roasting are a larger batch size and an even roast, but these machines require more attention and generate more smoke.
See our Home Roasting FAQ for more help finding the right roaster for you.
We suggest the 4 lb. Sampler as a starting place. We select coffees that help you learn the major differences in flavor between regions and provide a relatively even roast. From there, browse our region information and coffee offerings to narrow down which coffees you'd like to try next. If you need more help, our Green Coffee FAQ will help take the mystery out of selecting.
Understanding the different stages of the roast will help you control the flavor of your cup and appreciate how different roasts result in different cup flavors.
After cooling, allow the coffee to rest for 4-8 hours in a loosly closed container or Coffee Storage. Then seal the container tight, or store in valve bag for up to a week. Of course you can drink your coffee at any time after you have roasted it but for peak flavor and body resting, letting the coffee off gas CO2, is best. A lot of folks ask about the freezer, you can store roasted coffee in the freezer if you will not be using it for a week or more, after you start using it keep it at room temperature. Green coffee is best stored in the plastic bags they we ship them in, in a cool dry place.