Coffee is one of the most popular beverages in the world. Drinking of the beverage does not choose between novices and connoisseurs as everyone appreciates the kick that comes with caffeine especially when starting the day. A freshly brewed cup of coffee in the morning smells heavenly, and a drink of the same starts your day on a high.
Roasting coffee beans helps to release the distinct aromas and intricate, pleasant flavor notes of coffee. Coffee lovers would do anything to have this aroma seeping out of their homes than from a coffee shop every morning. Roasting coffee at home can sound intimidating to some people, especially if they have no idea what it takes to make great roasts.
However, you do not have to rush to your favorite roast shop or coffee shop whenever you need a freshly brewed cup of coffee. The good thing is that you can release the same aroma and flavors from coffee beans by roasting the same from your home's comfort. The following guide will help you with the roasting process.
- Why Do We Roast Coffee Beans?
- Coffee Roasting Process
- Coffee Roast Degrees
- How to Roast Coffee Beans
- Dark Roast vs. Light Roast
- Cooling the Beans and Removing Chaff
- Wrapping It Up
Why Do We Roast Coffee Beans?
Roasting green coffee beans changes their composition to bring out their aroma, taste, and flavors. Before roasting, beans stay in their green state to prevent them from losing their taste and quality. Unlike a roasted bean, a green bean lacks the great aroma, flavor, and other characteristics that come out after roasting, a green bean is spongy, soft, and has a grassy smell.
The roasting process takes the beans through chemical changes as their temperatures change. After the beans acquire the temperatures required of them or attain their perfection, they go through cooling to end the roasting process. After cooling, you can smell the coffee clearly and notice a considerable difference in the beans' physical appearance.
Roasting takes away the moisture from the beans, which makes them weigh less than they did in their green state. Roast beans also expand to twice their original size and change color to a light brown. Further roasting turns the color to a dark brown. Coffee beans do not stay fresh for long, so it is essential to use them quickly before they start to lose their flavor. Read on to learn more about why we roast the beans and how they change to the new state.
Coffee Roasting Process
Roasting whole coffee beans takes patience, art, expertise, and doing it wrongly can spoil a whole bunch of coffee beans to end up with bad tasting coffee. Roasting turns green coffee beans to brown, and there are several stages and methods to do that. The roasting process takes you through three main steps: the drying, browning, and roasting stages. In this next part of the article, I take you through the complete roasting process.
Coffee Roast Degrees
A coffee roast degree refers to how cooked the beans are at different stages during the process. During all the different stages, it is crucial to monitor the progress of the beans closely to avoid ending up with burnt or completely carbonized beans.
Before the first roasting stage, coffee beans are in their natural green color. The color changes to a tan or pale, then finally to yellow, signifying the first degree of roasting.
Before long, the coffee beans start to emit steam after the water molecules begin to heat up and evaporate. The smell of the beans now is grassy.
The first crack
As the roasting process progresses, you will hear the first sound from the beans that sounds like a crack or the popping sound of popcorn. This is the first crack stage of roasting, and it is an indication that the roasting process is well on its way.
At this stage, the coffee beans start going through all the significant changes that include water evaporating from the beans, beginning of caramelization, and oil redistribution inside the beans occurs. The coffee beans also start to change their physical structure doubling in size.
Fresh Roast Phase
You can consider your coffee roasted after the first crack. You can choose to stop roasting further and use coffee in this state, or continue with the process to suit your flavor and aroma preferences. The first crack stage provides you with a light roast, which also goes by other names cinnamon roast, light city roast, and New England roast. The phase is also a very crucial one in the roasting process as the first crack help to determine the degree of the roasting stage, which means you have to be alert.
Caramelization of sugar
After the first roasting process, some people may want to leave their coffee beans as they are, but not proceeding to the next levels may provide you with beans that do not come with the complete goodness from roasting. At this stage, the beans appear darker and more prominent, and they will continue at the same rate until there is 50% of caramelization completed. You can continue roasting until complete caramelization of more sugar and oils from the beans takes place.
The coffee beans take between 10 and 15 minutes to go through the first roasting phase. If you do not stop after the first crack, you will continue to the second crack stage. In this stage, the beans expand much further, and they make a crackling sound, which is not as loud as the first crack popcorn sound.
The beans also take on an oily sheen look, and the colors change to between chestnut and medium brown. The beans even start to embrace their unique characteristics that include the aroma and flavor. Acidity levels of the beans are low during this stage of the roasting process. The first and second crack stages produce light and medium roasts.
As the roasting process continues, the coffee beans start to get darker, all sugars and oils caramelize, smoke intensifies, and the beans start to break into smaller pieces. The stage referred to as Italian roasting, French roasting, or dark roasting is the final phase and anything further than this will give you burnt beans.
The Carbonation Phase
The carbonization stage turns your coffee beans into charcoal if you do nothing to save the situation. Some cultures love their beans in the carbonized or Spanish roast stage. If you roast any further, you even risk a fire breaking out because, at this stage, the majority of the coffee beans are ash.
How to Roast Coffee Beans
Before you start the roasting process, you will need green beans, a roaster, and a place to store them after the process.
Buy Green Beans
Many people have never actually seen green beans because they purchase already roasted beans from roast houses and coffee shops. Unroasted coffee beans or raw coffee beans are green coffee beans. The beans go through drying and cleaning processes in readiness for roasting. The roasting process starts with the acquisition of green beans.
For some people roasting green beans is an easy process, while for others, it could turn out to be the most challenging phase. If you do not live in a place that sells coffee beans, you could buy them online or from any roasters that green coffee beans. When you purchase the beans, choose quality seeds with a uniform color and size because it is the only way to have consistency in your coffee.
After you have your beans, now you are into the next most exciting step. The good thing about this part of the process is that you can use many different types of roasters to do the job depending on your preference or what you have available.
Store the coffee beans after you finish the process. The best container to use for storing your roasts is an airtight container. If you do not have that immediately after the process, you can use any other container provided you can close it, but use the coffee beans in a week or less.
Roasting the coffee beans is the fun part of the whole procedure. Besides, the stage brings a smile to your face as the coffee beans start to emit their beautiful aromas. You need to be careful and employ all your artistic ingenuities during this stage because anything can go in the wrong direction in the flicking of a second. This stage proves that roasting coffee is an art, and a fun one at that.
How To Roast Coffee Beans In The Oven
You can also use the oven roasting method, but it is not a very pleasant method as it produces lots of smoke. Ensure that you have proper ventilation before you decide to use this method. If you do not have any fan, ensure that you open all the windows to let out smoke coming out of the oven from the coffee beans.
What you need
- Green Coffee Bean
- A perforated oven tray
- Metal colander
- Airtight container
- Preheating your oven to between 450 and 500 degrees is the first step. While the oven is preheating, ensure that your roasting pan is ready. Lay a baking sheet on the pan. To be on the safe side, use a baking sheet with small holes, and a lip that you are sure will keep all the beans in the pan. You can also make your roasting sheets by drilling small 1/8 inch holes, into it. The holes should be very tiny and 1/2 an inch apart. While you are doing all this, ensure that all the windows are open, and ventilation is on because you will have to contend with a smoky room.
- Spread your green beans on top of the baking sheet and ensure that they are all in one uniform layer. They should not overlap but be close together. Once you are sure the oven has the right temperature, place the baking pan on the ovens middle rack because the temperature there is constant.
- Roast your beans for the next 7 to 15 minutes as you listen for the crackling sounds of the first crack.
- After you hear the other crackling sound, your beans are ready, and keeping them in the oven longer than this will leave you with burnt results. Remove the beans and stir them to around to ensure they get an even color.
- After roasting the beans to your satisfaction, remove them from the oven and transfer them into a metal colander to cool. Stir and shake the beans to remove the chaff and give them a uniform look. Ensure that you wear heat-protective mitts while carrying out this part of the process.
- Do not store the beans at this time, but leave them open to de-gas. You can leave open for 12 hours before storing them.
- Store the roasts in an airtight container and keep them in a cool, dry place.
How To Roast Coffee Beans In a Popcorn Popper
If you decide to use a popcorn popper for roasting your coffee beans, the best items to use are a traditional crank-style popper and a stove. Roasting the beans on the stovetop helps you to get coffee beans with more body and in-depth notes. The move though, may reduce the coffee beans bright notes and intense aroma.
What you need
- A popcorn popper
- A stove
- Green beans
- Baking sheet
- A thermometer (optional)
- Storage container
- Ensure that you have your green beans ready from the store, then take your popcorn popper, place it on the stove, and put in your coffee beans. Turn the heat on and bring the topper temperature to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. If you have a thermometer, it will come in handy for ensuring that you have the right temperature to start your process.If you do not have a popcorn topper, you can use a pan or large skillet for the procedure. Whatever you decide to use, you just have to ensure that it is spotless to prevent the beans from picking up any new unwanted flavors from fresh meals cooked on the item of choice. If you do not have a thermometer, preheating the topper for between 5 and 10 minutes should provide you with the right temperature.
- Once you have the right temperature, add the green beans to the topper, and close the lid. Ensure that you do not put too many beans to avoid failed results. You could start with 8 ounces of beans at a time. After closing the topper lid, begin turning the handle to ensure that the beans get a uniform roast look. If you use a skillet or pan, you will need to stir the beans to prevent them from burning always. Stirring also helps to attain a uniform look.
- As you turn the popper handle or stir the beans, you will notice as they progress through the different roasting stages. The first indication that the process is going well will be a crackling sound, four minutes into the process. The beans also start to emit a potent coffee-smelling smoke. Open all the windows and oven hood fan to let out the smoke. Do not forget to check the time that the beans start to produce the crackling sound.
- Keep checking the color of the beans as they continue to roast. The first time you should check should be one minute after the crackling starts. After you are confident that the beans have the color that you want, remove them from the popper, and pour them onto a cooling metal colander. Continue stirring the beans as they cool to ensure that the color and aroma are uniform.
- If you decide to roast the beans to dark roast or city roast, give them 12 hours to de-gas before storing them. Use airtight containers for storage and keep them in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight, moisture, and heat.
How To Roast Coffee Beans In A Frying pan
Using the frying pan coffee roasting method is challenging, but it is also one of the most convenient ways. It is especially significant if you start the roasting journey or have no professional roaster at home.
What you need
- Gas or electric burner
- Pan one with non-stick coating is the best to use such as cast iron frying pan or cast aluminum pan
- Wooden stirring spatula or wire whisk to ensure that you roast all the beans evenly by always turning and mixing them. You can also use two spatulas to turn and mix the beans for convenience and reduce the intensity of interfering with the beans.
- Oven mitts to protect you from burning due to the intense heat
- Metal colander or any other place to cool the beans before storing them
- A stopwatch is an essential tool, as you need to time the period it takes to complete the roasting process to avoid burning the roasts.
Before you start, ensure that all your equipment is within easy reach. In case you are using a room that does not have enough ventilation, ensure that you turn on an exhaust fan, roast the beans outside, or roast with all the windows open.
- Using the scale, measure 150-200 grams of green coffee beans and place them on a baking sheet. If you are roasting the coffee beans for the first time, it is advisable to start with, a small amount and increase it as you become more knowledgeable on roasting.You will notice that during the process, coffee beans lose their weight but increase in size. If you start with 150 grams, you will end up with approximately 130 grams of roasts. If you start with 200 grams, you may end up with 175 grams or less. To ensure that you do not waste any time, prepare a cooling baking sheet in advance, as it is an essential part of the process.
- Preheat the pan on the gas or electric burner for 10 to 15 seconds. Your pan should be at least 500 F hot and large to ensure that you mix the beans with ease. Pour the beans into the pan and start the stopwatch. Start mixing the beans immediately and continue to roast and mix.
- After the beans roast for between 7 and 10 minutes, you will want to see the changes that they take, which should be an even color change from green to yellow, then from golden brown to light brown and finally from light brown to a dark brown. To ensure that the color progression is even, reduce the gas heat levels. Mix the coffee beans, thoroughly ensuring that no bean stays in one place longer than a second of a minute does. Keep a close eye on the beans at all times and note the time they start to crack. The more times you mix the beans, the more even they will roast. The first crack takes place between 5 and 9 minutes, depending on the intensity of the heat.
- The first crack takes place 5 minutes after the beans turn a light brown from a golden brown. The first crack means that your coffee beans are now palatable, and continuing with the process will depend on how roasted you want them to be. You must bear in mind that you will need the beans to be one or two shades lighter than what you want the result to like as they continue to roast slightly as the cool. Remove the beans from the pan after the roasting process goes through 20 to 25% of the entire process. Pour your newly roasted beans into a metal colander to cool. Remember, the end of the first crack is the first stage of the roasting process, which means that you choose to use the beans as they are or complete the process to the other roasting stages.
- The beans continue to darken after the first crack as they change to a darker color. During this time, you will hear the second crack, which will continue until you are ready to stop it.
- After the end of the second crack, phase, pour the beans into a metal colander, and continue stirring them until you are sure, they are cool. All the chaff that the beans corrected during the roasting process falls off through the colander holes, which means you, will have to do the cooling process with a receptacle or outside. Note that the chaff or husks' presence does not affect the taste or aroma of the coffee beans.
- Once your coffee beans are cool, leave them in the open for at least four hours to off-gas. After the four hours, store the newly roasted beans in an airtight container and keep them in a dry, cool place. The stored beans will stay fresh for 5 to 7 days.
- Check out for the following four signs that will show you that the process was a success.
- Your coffee beans have lost 13% of their original weight
- You can easily break the beans using your hands and have a uniform color both inside and outside. If you grind the beans, ensure that the ground beans have the same color as your newly roasted beans. Beans break easily as some may still be too strong for bare hands to crack, which should not worry you.
- Try to chew on the beans to feel the taste. If the taste is not bitter or does not have a smoky or burnt flavor, then you are good to go.
- The color of all the beans is even.
- Enjoy your roasted beans and start another batch once you are through with the first one. If you do this successfully, you are on your way to becoming a barista.
How To Roast Coffee Beans In An Air Popper
An air popper works like the popcorn poppers by blowing hot air across the beans for fast roasting, but it is a more expensive option. It is also more efficient than a standard popcorn popper. The hot air popper also provides an exceptionally even roast of the beans. Using the air popper is also more comfortable than using the above roasting methods.
What you need
- Green coffee beans
- Hot air popper
- Set up the most convenient roasting station bearing in mind that an air popper uses hot air that expels lots of chaff. The best place to set your station would be outdoors because of the flying chaffs. Another reason to set the station in an area with enough airflow is that the coffee beans release their smell more when roasting in a hot air popper. Some people may like the scent, while others may find it intoxicating.
- Add the green beans into the air popper in small batches weighing about 8 ounces. You can also use a cup and fill it a quarter ways if you do not have a measuring scale. Turn on the air popper and start roasting. Note that an air popper is noisy, which is another reason for setting your roasting station outside.
- Keep a close monitor on the roast.The beans start to change their color after about one minute into the roasting process. The color changes from green to light brown, and finally to dark, as the process continues. Chaff flies out of the air popper just as other changes to the coffee beans start to take effect. Monitor the beans closely so as not to miss the cracking sound. You can choose to stop further roasting after the first crack or continue until you hear the second crack.
- After the roasting process goes according to your preference and the required time, transfer the beans from the air popper to a cooling colander. Remove any chaff remaining in the beans by dumping the beans from one bowl or colander to another. If you have any chaff remaining in your beans, do not stress out, as it will tam taste or flavor of your coffee.
- Store the beans after cooling them in airtight containers.
- Enjoy your roasts and coffee
How To Roast Coffee Beans In a Roasting Machine
If your roasting of the coffee beans becomes a regular thing, you may end up buying a roasting machine to make the processes easier. Even though a roasting machine is an expensive investment compared to the other options, today, you can find pocket-friendly roasting machines that you can use easily from the comfort of your home.
A roasting machine also comes with more other advantages that include more consistency in your roast levels. Ensure that you have excellent ventilation as the beans produce lots of smoke during the process.
What you need
- Green beans
- Roasting machine
- Oven mitts
- Turn on the roasting machine and add the green beans. You should follow the guidelines as per the user manual to pour the right measurement of beans.
- Keep monitoring the roasting process, primarily if you use a machine that does not come with full automation. Machines vary in age, the number of beans they can accommodate, temperature levels, among others.
- Listen for the cracks that indicate when you attain a light roast and a dark roast, once you have the desired roast degree, finish the process and switch off the machine
- Cool the beans in a colander if the machine does not come with its cooling system. You can also use two colanders to remove the chaff from the beans by dumping the beans from one colander to another. Protect your hands during the process by wearing oven mitts.
- Allow the beans to de-gas for 12 hours
- Store the bean in airtight jars and dry cool places.
Dark Roast vs. Light Roast
Even if you are new in the coffee industry but occasionally take the drink, you will notice when there is a difference in tastes. Some coffee drinks taste fruity and bright, while others have a more profound and darker taste. The same goes for how they look. Some of the coffee drinks have a lighter appearance than others do.
Some people assume that the difference in tastes depends on the coffee beans' place, the type of growing climate, and the processing methods. The assumptions are all true as they play a significant role in determining the kind of coffee that ends up in the cup. Still, the roasting process represents the most significant role in determining the flavor of the beans. Light and dark roasts are the significant determinants of how your coffee tastes.
What are the differences between the two types of roasts?
Light roasts go through a less heating process than dark roasts. Heating the coffee beans helps to remove moisture and water from the beans through the evaporation process. Light roasts have more moisture in them compared to dark roasts, which makes them denser.
With a higher density of humidity, light roasts are brighter or are more acid, and they contain higher amounts of caffeine. They also have more pronounced fruity and herbal flavors. The body of a light roast is thinner than that of a dark roast, and the coffee tastes more like a robust black tea beverage.
They also come with more complexities that disappear if you keep them longer than necessary on the roasting machine. If you want a coffee cup that provides more buzz, you should go for a light roast.
On the other hand, dark roasts stay longer on the roasting machine and roast at higher temperatures. The long roasting period or high temperatures make the dark roasts lose their moisture content, making them have less caffeine and less dense. Dark roasts have a more single-note flavor than light roasts.
If you are looking for a caramel, roasted nut, or graham crackers taste in your coffee. A dark roast will be the best for you. The dark roast also provides you with the authentic taste of coffee because the long roasting process brings out the oils to the surface, and the coffee has a thicker body.
Cooling the Beans and Removing Chaff
Green coffee beans shed off their husks or outer skin during the roasting process. On the process of losing the outer surface, the beans leave behind shell or chaff. You should note that the presence of chaff or husks does not interfere with the taste or aroma of the coffee, but they are impurities that would otherwise look bad in your coffee.
The fastest way of removing the chaff is by using two colanders. After roasting, you use a colander to cool the beans, to remove the chaff, move the beans from one colander to the next until you have all the chaff out of the beans. If you cannot get all the chaff out, you do not have to worry, as you will still enjoy your roast beans.
Is the oily look on dark roasted beans good or bad?
Oil forms on the outer shell of the coffee bean because of the chemical reaction from heating. Due to more exposure to heat during the roasting process, dark roasts attain a thinner crust that seeps oil out faster than light roasts. The fragile shell also makes them lose flavors more quickly. However, even light roasts eventually develop an oily sheen with time.
The oily sheen is not bad for your health, and it people that love dark roast like the taste of their coffee and not the oil on the surface. With proper roasting, even a dark roast takes some time before the surface starts to look oily.
Can I make any money by roasting coffee from home?
Sometimes roasting coffee beans from home becomes so compelling that some people wish they could share their amazing results with other people and family and make a buck as they do so. Is this possible? Yes, it is. You can earn some money y roasting beans and selling the blends to family members and friends. You can also start selling to the local coffee shops, flea market, and even local restaurants. All you need to do is perfect your roasting skills by using the best roasting methods you can afford to use.
What are the advantages of roasting your coffee beans from the comfort of your home?
Some people may think that buying roasted beans is much easier than going to all the trouble of roasting them at home. Before you come to that decision, you need to look at the advantages of roasting your beans at home. The advantages are;
- Cost-friendly as you save money from regular buying roasts from other places
- Fresher coffee on hand any time you need it
- Better tasting beans
- Helps to maximize the health benefits of coffee as you use fresh beans
- Roasting at home is an enjoyable art that becomes a passion
Wrapping It Up
Roasting green coffee beans at home is not a very easy job to do, especially if you are a novice. Some find it intimidation while others enjoy the processes. Even though the beginning may be rough, you do not have to worry because it gets easier. You need to have patience, make a few mistakes, but get it right the end.
You also have to consider the benefits of roasting the beans at home compared to buying your roasts every time you need to take coffee. Roasting at home saves you time, money, and the convenience of enjoying the freshest coffee at any time you want. We hope, with the information on this article about roasting green beans, you will have no problems becoming the next barista in town.