Coffee Roasting At Home


The coffee plant is grown in many remote regions around the world. In places like the Indonesian island of Java, the Hawaiian Kona, and the Ethiopian Harrar coffee is grown, harvested and then shipped worldwide. Because coffee is grown and consumed at very different regions and since it is so popular, it is the second largest traded commodity in the world behind oil.

The most natural thing would have been for coffee to be roasted in its original location. This, however, is impossible for many reasons. First, while the green coffee can be stored for a year without any significant impact on its quality, freshly roasted coffee provides aroma and taste only for a couple of weeks. Because the coffee is exported by ship, this in itself rules out the possibility of distant roasting.

Moreover, coffee is roasted especially for local tastes. The bitter dark roasts produced in Italy are very different from the light ones consumed in northern Europe. In fact, the ability of the local roaster to adjust the final product (roast level and coffee blending) according to the local palate is a key competitive advantage - assuming that it was rightly done of course.


Great, no problem, give me some tomatoes, milk, bread, and I’ll also take a pound of the coffee that you have over there .... But wait, is it indeed fresh?

Freshness for coffee is like water for flowers. Take that away and you see the difference, real fast. First make sure you grind right before you drink - just like in the gourmet coffee shop around the corner where you get that incredible organic coffee every time you step in. While roasted coffee lasts for a couple of weeks, ground one lasts only a couple of hours! So, do not buy ground coffee unless you are really only looking for the caffeine in it ... Would you buy dry flowers?

Ok, that out of the way, grab that bag of whole-bean coffee and go to cashier. But wait, is it really fresh? Take a look at the expiration date – it’s six months out. Mmm, what does this mean? Well, nothing really. Unless you buy fresh from a local boutique roaster, it is likely the coffee you're buying has already been roasted a couple of months ago and packaged in a vacuum filled with nitrogen. Makes you crave a cup of coffee?

OK, back to home coffee roasting. Have you ever made bread at home? A cake? Remember that aroma? The taste? Crunchy! Well, it works for coffee too. Home roasted coffee will give both the means to test and experience coffee in its natural form, and ensure the freshness. Just be warned, roasting coffee is not for anyone. If you like cooking, if you're a handyman, if you like to paint your walls, then this is for you!


Sounds easy - just take some green coffee and throw it in the oven, right?

Well, not so fast. Green beans are not easy to find. The best source for them is the website of sweet Maria’s which is also the ultimate source for home roasting information. Be warned however, that site is for complete geeks. No problem, just take the beans and run... Coffee Bean Corral can be a friendlier source, but may have a lesser variety. Be sure to compare prices too of course - green beans are 50% cheaper than roasted ones. Great!

Ok, so we have some coffee beans, should I purchase one of these geeky roasting devices?

Most likely not, let’s start with the easy stuff - your oven.

Preheat the oven to 430 degrees, drop half a pound of beans in a pan and put it in the oven. Be sure to stir every few minutes for even roasting and also to avoid burnt beans. While you are doing it, open the windows wide. You will get some smoke around.

Give it twenty minutes. Now, start checking the color of the beans. Have a few beans from your favorite coffee shop in hand, so you can compare the color and stop on cue. Here you go – it’s ready! Take roast outside (you do not want chaff everywhere), dump them in a colander, shake to cool them down, and store them in a regular sealed can- they are fresh for a week.

Roasting coffee is as deep as you want it to be. Want just the tip of the iceberg? Well, you're already there. Want to explore further? Surf the Internet, you can find many coffees and techniques out there, try them - develop your palate and taste. With only little time and a lot of passion, you can easily have coffee that is much better than what you currently get at a regular cafe and for a fraction of the price. At some point you may also want to go for a roasting machine, who knows...

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About The Author, Eyal Rosen
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