If you haven’t tasted coffee that has been freshly roasted and ground, you really have no idea what you’re missing. And the best part is, you really can do it yourself with just a little bit of knowledge and some experimentation.
I became a home-roasting convert after I bought some freshly-roasted coffee from a local shop, went home and brewed it with my cheap little drip coffee maker, and was blown away by the flavor! All the off-the-shelf coffees I had run through that maker before tasted more or less the same. This was a whole new experience!
Basic Home Coffee Roasting Equipment
If you’re just getting into home roasting, I highly recommend keeping it super-simple and basic. If you search around on Amazon, you’ll soon find that you can spend a LOT of money on home roasting equipment. Home coffee roasting can literally be as simple as putting some green coffee beans in a pan on the stove and stirring them around with a spoon. You absolutely can roast some high quality coffee without laying out a bunch of money. Below is my setup and it works very well.
Whirley Pop popcorn popper—make sure you get a stainless steel model. This is one of the ways people used to make popcorn before microwaves. They come in aluminum as well but aluminum and heat can be a funky combination, plus, stainless steel should stay in better shape longer. Metal gears are good, too. Plastic gears just don’t seem to hold up well to coffee roasting.
Controllable heat source—you can use your gas grill, camping stove, electric hot plate, etc. I only roast outside or in the garage because it gets smoky! I already have a turkey fryer and usually just use the burner from that. An electric hotplate which works great and is easier to adjust the temperature with—temperature control is a big deal in coffee roasting.
Thermometer—I use an infrared heat gun thermometer that works really well and gives an instant, accurate temperature. You can also use a cooking thermometer with a long probe. The only drawback is they seem to read a little behind the temperature curve. You can roast without a thermometer but in order to get repeatable results you need to be able to monitor the temp.
Mesh strainer/sieve—when the beans have reached the desired roast, you need to get them cooled quickly to stop the process. I’ve found the easiest way to do this is pour them into a strainer and shake them around a bit. Placing a small fan under the strainer helps cool the beans and also helps to blow the chaff away (the chaff is another reason why I don’t roast in the house!)
Bags/Container for finished beans—you can find coffee bags on Amazon if you like. I use a kraft bag with degassing valve. You can write the roast details on the bag with a sharpie. Or you can just store the roasted beans in any airtight container you have on hand.
Green Coffee Beans—Believe it or not, you can actually source small (and large) quantities of green coffee beans on Amazon. Green beans can last a long time (months) if you store them in Rubbermaid-type container. A great way to start is a sampler pack like this: Bodhi Favorites Sampler Pack – Top 5 Green Coffees. You get 5, 1lb bags of green coffee beans from different regions of the world. With the current price, you’re getting some premium green beans at $6.88/lb. Considering that you would pay at least double that for roasted coffee of this quality, you can see how you will save some money in the long run roasting your own—especially if you keep your equipment costs down. Another nice thing about a sampler pack like this is that you can either experiment with some different roast coffee blends or try each one on its own to get the experience of coffees from different regions!
If you have a heat source, you can get all the essential home coffee roasting equipment you need to get started for right around $50.00!
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Upcoming post: Step-by-Step Home Roasting Your First Batch of Coffee!