Drink better tasting coffee at a third of the price!
Several years ago when we decided to buckle down and get serious about saving money, we started looking for some creative ways to save even more. One of the ways Jon discovered was to start roasting our own coffee. Green coffee beans cost about one third the price of roasted whole bean coffee, and the rich flavor a fresh roast just can’t be beat.
Roast our own coffee? That’s right! Using just a hot air popcorn popper, we were able to roast our own coffee right there in our tiny one-bedroom apartment! Granted, we set off the fire alarm just about every time (so I’m thankful we can now roast on our closed-in porch), but we started home roasting nonetheless!
What you Need
To get started roasting your own coffee at home, all you need is a hot air popcorn popper (must be side-vented), green coffee beans, a wooden spoon, a timer, and a colander or tray to cool the beans on.
*Note: Be sure your hot air popper is side-vented (see below). If it’s vented on the bottom, the chaff/beans covering it can cause overheating! Here are some hot air popcorn poppers available on Amazon.
About Green Coffee
Unroasted coffee beans, or “green” beans, are smaller, harder, and heavier than roasted beans. During the roasting process, the beans swell, the outer layer cracks (releasing chaff), they lose moisture, and of course, they develop their rich flavor. (You can learn more about green coffee here.)
Where to Buy It
We like to buy our beans from Burman Coffee Traders, a family owned business out of Madison, WI. They offer great newsletter specials that we regularly take advantage of, like sale pricing on select beans, coupon codes for a free half pound of coffee with any order over $35.
Giveaway and Free T-Shirts!
When I decided to write this post about home roasting, I reached out to Burman Coffee Traders to see if they would be interested in collaborating on a giveaway. I promptly received a response from Garry Burman himself, offering to contribute their 3 Pound Popular Bundle and a Master Roaster T-Shirt to the giveaway! (We are also including a hot air popcorn popper to get you started! Head to the end of this post to enter the giveaway.)
In addition, Burman Coffee Traders is offering a coupon code that anyone can use with any order for a FREE Master Roaster T-Shirt! Just enter code Ab765 at checkout. (In addition to green coffee, they also sell coffee equipment, books, videos, mugs, and even tea.) Shop BurmanCoffee.com>>
Ready to learn how to roast?
Pour the green coffee beans into the popcorn popper, no higher than the max fill line. The beans need to have room to bounce around in order to roast evenly.
You will want to roast in a well-ventilated area, because the beans will smoke as they roast.
It is helpful to have a timer handy to time the roast, although you’ll base the length of the roasting time on the look and sound of the beans. Yes, the sound. We’ll get to that in a bit.
Turn on the popcorn popper and start your timer. Use the wooden spoon to stir the beans once in a while. Although we removed the cover for most of these photos, you will want to keep the cover on as much as possible to maintain the heat in the roaster.
Over the next few minutes you will notice the color of the beans begin to change as they roast. As the roast gets darker, they will begin to smoke. That’s normal. The beans will also “pop” twice, called “first crack” and “second crack.” These are benchmarks in the roasting process.
As they roast, the beans swell and the outer layer will crack. This is what you’re listening for. It’s a quieter sound than popcorn popping, yet distinct. Every bean will crack once, so it is very noticeable. This is called first crack. When first crack is complete, the beans have achieved the lightest roast, called City roast.
The length of the roast brings out different flavors in the beans. You can get descriptions of each bean as well as tasting and roasting notes when you buy from Burman Coffee Traders. Get the lowdown on their 3 lb bundles here.
For a darker roast, allow the beans to continue roasting beyond first crack. When they have gotten a little darker and the beans begin to swell, this is City + roast. Stopping the roast just before the second crack is called Full City. As the beans progress through second crack, the beans achieve Vienna, Full City +, and French Roasts. You can learn more about the stages here.
Most popcorn poppers will roast a batch of coffee in 5-10 minutes.
When the beans achieve the roast you’re looking for, stop the popcorn popper and immediately remove the beans to allow them to cool. You can pour them into a colander or pan and put it in front of a fan, shake the pan continually, or just step outside for about 3 seconds if your temps are as frigid as they have been around here recently! I’d probably recommend the fan option. 🙂
When the beans are completely cool, pour them into a jar to store. Because freshly roasted coffee beans release CO2, we like to store our beans in mason jars, leaving the lid screwed on loosely. (Besides, mason jars are just awesome and the beans look really cool in them.) Tightly sealing a jar of fresh coffee can cause it to burst!The flavor of roasted coffee beans continues to develop in the days following the roast. Depending on the bean, the flavor tends to peak between 1 and 2 days after roasting, and the coffee will stay fresh for up to 10 days. In general, you should wait at least 4 to 8 hours to enjoy your first cup (although we brewed these bad boys immediately following this photoshoot, and let me tell you, that was one good pot of coffee!).
As coffee gets old, the beans get more oily. You might notice this if you buy roasted whole beans. Nothing beats roasting your own coffee at home!
Home Roaster Startup Giveaway
We are giving away the following:
- 3 Pound Popular Bundle of green coffee from Burman Coffee Traders
- 1 Popcorn Popper (not pictured), and
- Master Roaster T-Shirt
Enter the giveaway below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway
The winner will be randomly selected at midnight on Monday, 3/16/15. The winner will be announced on the blog and contacted by email, and will have 48 hours to respond. If no response is received, a new winner will be drawn.