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How Do I Roast Coffee?

Ground coffee.
Green coffee beans are ready to be roasted.
Whole roasted coffee beans.
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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 09 April 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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A number of methods exist for people to roast coffee beans at home, and this practice is by no means new. Until the early 1900s, the idea of getting roasted beans from coffee suppliers wouldn’t have been particularly common. Instead most people bought green beans and roasted at home, but smart coffee dealers saw a market for providing this service. Now many people in the world buy their beans pre-roasted, and often pre-ground. However, home roasting is definitely coming back as an option for coffee lovers.

People can roast coffee in a number of ways that include oven roasting, stovetop cooking, or machine roasting. The oven roasting method often works best when people have a convection oven. Circulating air around the beans helps to insure that they are roasted evenly and completely. However some people do use a simple gas oven. One proviso is that there needs to be a good working oven fan or vent in order to get rid of the smoke and steam that begins to rise from coffee beans cooked at high temperatures; the smell can be pretty overwhelming at first, too, though some people like it.

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An additional recommendation for oven roasting is to buy flat pans that have multiple, small perforations in them. This allows for air to move through the pans during the roasting process. After roasting is finished, two perforated bowls like colanders can be used to quickly cool the coffee. Roast coffee will continue cooking when removed from the oven unless it is cooled.

Stovetop coffee roasting is an alternative method, best employed with gas burners. What is distinctly different is that the beans will burn if they aren’t moved constantly. Those who are very skilled with a skillet could pull off shaking the beans for the time it takes to cook them. Others recommend using a stovetop turning popcorn popper. The crank can be used on these to keep the beans in motion. This method takes less time than oven roasting but it is more labor intensive.

Lastly there are home roasting machines and many of these are considered excellent. Prices on machines can vary, but they can allow adjustments to different types of roasts so people can experiment. Of the three methods available the home roast machine is the easiest to use, though some purists suggest the pan roast method yields better coffee.

The main goal, when using green beans, is to roast coffee to a certain temperature, smell, and color, which may vary in time depending on roast method. Time to roast coffee is about 20 minutes at most in the oven and about five minutes on a stovetop. People can use thermometers to check roast coffee bean temperature.

There are also guidelines available on how to achieve different roasts and at what temperature these roasts should be. Color is another consideration that determines time length, since lighter coffee has a little less flavor and packs a more powerful caffeine punch, and dark roasts, have lower acid but strong flavor and less caffeine. The smell of the coffee is also important because as it shifts from green bean to brown or black bean, it begins to smell like recognizably roasted coffee.

Temperature settings for roasting coffee can vary. In the oven, they often exceed 500 degrees F (260 degrees C). On the stovetop, pan temperature may need to be just slightly under that. A coffee roast machine may allow people to set temperature or only set time, depending on its complexity.

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