Coffee connoisseurs will tell you that the best coffee is fresh-roasted. After just a week, the natural flavors and aromas of the roasted coffee bean start to diminish, so fresh-roasting is a great way to preserve maximum flavor and freshness. Roasting your own coffee can also be a great way to incorporate coffee into your food storage or buy in bulk, as unroasted coffee (properly stored!) has a long shelf life.
Roasting coffee can use equipment you already have in your kitchen, or you can purchase equipment specifically for coffee roasting. At the lower end of the price scale is a simple air-pop popcorn machine, whereas a fluid air bed roasting machine will cost around $900 at least. The machines are less messy and easier, as well as being easier to automate, but the they are expensive, and if you’re adding unroasted coffee to your food storage, it’s a good idea to know how to do it without electricity if you ever need to.
Roasting on the Stovetop
The biggest challenge of a stovetop roast is getting all the beans roasted uniformly. It’s best to have a dedicated pot or pan for coffee roasting, as the oils in the coffee bean can permeate cookware, leaving all your other dishes with a coffee aroma! Heat the pan to the medium setting and add coffee beans, stirring constantly until the beans reach the desired roast level.
Roasting in an Oven
The only downside to roasting in an oven is that many home ovens don’t get hot enough to roast the beans well. If your oven can get up to 550 degrees Fahrenheit, you may be in luck! Set the temperature to at least 500 degrees and let it preheat. Put the coffee beans on a baking sheet in a single layer where they’re all pressed up against each other but not overlapping, and roast for 15-20 minutes in the middle of the oven. If they’re not roasted dark enough after 20 minutes, you’ll need to increase the temperature rather than the time to get it just right.
How do I know when they’re done?
As you roast the coffee, you’ll hear it starting to crackle. The first time you hear this, keep going! It could be consumed at this stage but it won’t taste like the coffee you’re used to. The second time you hear the crackling, it’s a sign that your coffee has reached the “City Roast” stage. Coffee at this stage has a strong aroma and a medium brown appearance.
After the City stage is the Full City stage, sometimes called Viennese or Seattle roast. The surface of the beans will look a little bit oily and the color moves to a medium-dark brown. For espresso roast, wait until the surface of the beans is dark brown and shiny, and the aroma mellows out a little bit. French or Spanish roast is nearly black, and it’s not very popular in the U.S., but it is common in Europe. The aroma of this very dark roast is very mellow, and the beans are very shiny on the outer surface.
After your beans are roasted, you want to cool them quickly. The easiest way to do this is to spread them onto a clean, cool baking sheet and stir until cooled to room temperature. Give the roasted beans a full day to rest before grinding them into coffee. While fresh-roasted coffee is best a day after roasting, it can keep in an airtight container for up to a week.