Discover the world of the home coffee roaster!

All there is to know about roasting your own beans at home. Become a home coffee roaster!

Home roasted coffee beans.

Would YOU like to give YOUR friends something new to talk about? Why not revive the lost art of home fresh roasted coffee beans? There was a time when roasting at home was popular – I guess there were not that many alternatives then. Then came the era of (dare I say it) Instant Coffee – the world has never been the same since :o(

Wow, am I glad that there were other people who felt like I do – They will always have my gratitude. These are the pioneers who started the world on the road to sheer coffee delights. Now would you believe, there are those brave souls who are even prepared to try becoming coffee roasters at home! Who knows, maybe this is the start of a new age when we all rush out to buy home coffee roasters.

Wait! - before you do, there are other alternatives you may want to look at – but then again maybe it is a lot easier (even if a bit more expensive) to purchase your own home coffee roasters.

To have a more in-depth look at alternative home roasting methods, the following data comes from "Sweet-Maria's", who I found to have the best information in this regard.

"Home roasting can be as easy as making popcorn. It takes anywhere from 6 to 16 minutes, depending on your method and preferences. You can roast enough in one batch for several days enjoyment, and the results are equal to (and often fresher than) professionally roasted coffees. Of course, you can choose to buy one of the new home roasting appliances like the Hearthware Coffee Roaster, Alpenrost, or the FreshRoast ...but its good to know about the alternative methods too....

.... Home roasting is fun and you will be amazed how easy it is. It's as easy as you want to make it, or as exacting and technical as you care to be. Don't be afraid of crackling coffee beans and pay attention to the process, especially toward the end of the roast.

Coffee roasting produces a wonderful fragrance, unobtrusive with light roasts but smokier if you roast dark. With some methods you can roast on a porch or near a partially open window. With stove/oven methods, it's nice if you have a stove hood or oven fan for the darker roasts. It also produces chaff. This is a fine skin that detaches from the bean as your roast is agitated. There are various ways to collect and contain chaff, but if you are careless, you may have to do some sweeping.

Home roaster - ready to start cooking!
Be organized. Lay out the items you will need to cool the beans before you roast, like a colander, a wooden spoon, and a spray bottle with distilled water if you chose to water-quench the roast (avoid water if possible).

Air poppers and stove poppers may need periodic cleaning to remove built-up coffee oils. Otherwise, they can be used for popcorn too. Remember that you are voiding the warranty and reducing the life span of these appliances by using them for coffee roasting. It is but a small sacrifice for a nice reward"

Overview of the home coffee roaster process.

In a nutshell, the roasting process goes like this:

For the first few minutes the beans remain greenish, then change to a light yellowish color and emit a grassy smell. They start to steam as their internal water content dissipates. The steam starts to become fragrant and soon you will hear the first "crack", an audible cracking sound as the real roasting starts to occur. Sugars begin to caramelize, bound-up water escapes, the structure of the bean breaks down and oils migrate outward.

The roast could be considered complete any time after the first "crack", according to your taste. The cracking is an audible cue, and, along with sight and smell, tells you what stage the roast is at. Caramelization continues, oils migrate, and the bean expands in size as the roast becomes dark. Then the second "crack" can be heard, often more volatile than the first. Small pieces are sometimes blown away like shrapnel!

As the roast gets darker, the smoke is more pungent as the sugars start to burn, and the bean structure breaks down more and more. Eventually, the sugars burn completely, and the roast will only result in a thin-bodied cup of "charcoal water."

Roasted beans set out to cool

Different Home Coffee Roasters Methods.

There are many ways to roast coffee at home. We will have a look at some of them, then you can decide how brave you are :-)

  • Frying Pan
  • Barbecue
  • Microwave
  • Radiant Heat Oven
  • Popcorn Popper

It can get no fresher than roasting, and immediately grinding the roasted coffee beans, then brewing the coffee. Roasted coffee beans have a continued chemical reaction from the moment they are taken out of the roaster. The rate of chemical change slows down in time but it continues none the less day by day. Coffee brewed from beans roasted within the hour is completely different from that allowed to sit for a day, a week or a month.

Frying Pan - Using a frying pan as a coffee roaster is a favorite method of home roasting. Frying the beans seers them which traps the coffee oils. It is the easiest method to clean up after too.

Barbecue - is the probably the safest as it is done outside. If a fire starts, you can't do much damage unless you panic. The drawback is that it is the hardest to control. Simply put the beans in tinfoil and place on the grid. Wait till the tinfoil starts smoking, then remove. Fun, but not very scientific.

Microwave - Yes, the microwave oven can work as a coffee roaster. One of the benefits is the speed with which it can be done. However, it is one of the most difficult to control as oven strengths vary and it is difficult to obtain an even roast. SMELLS! Your oven could take a while to clear the smell – but then you might like coffee flavored green beans :-)

Radiant Heat Oven - Read this as your standard household oven, which gives an nice even roast to the beans. Hopefully you have an external ventilation setup, otherwise re-read the last line of Microwave, above.

Popcorn Popper - This works rather well, and they come in several styles from steel to plastic. Regular stove top popcorn and static popcorn poppers will also work. Once used for coffee roasting, clean thoroughly or use for coffee only - but then you might like coffee flavored popcorn :-)

Interesting way of home roasting!

More rustic roasting set up

There are also the specialist home coffee roasters, which are extremely simple and the results are excellent ...without investing much time or effort! This is especially true of the Air Roasting process, known as fluid bed roasting, which "cooks" the coffee in a hot air stream. The Hearthware Home Roasters and the Freshroast Home Roaster both use this method. So does the Caffe Rosto, and to some degree the Zach & Dani's Roaster. It is also the same principle of the electric hot air Popcorn Popper, which is why some adapt these machines for roasting coffee!

Air roasting takes under 10 minutes, roasts very evenly without scorching, and results in coffee of exceptional quality. Other types of roasting include radiant drum roasting like the HotTop Drum Roaster and the Alpenrost Home Roaster (which retailers seem to not be stocking these days). The advantage is that it roasts 1/2 pound at a time, but requires a bit more attention during the roast process than an air roaster.

CAUTION In all of the above, we can have some fun, but please do exercise due caution. Coffee beans CAN and DO catch alight if you are not careful. Be warned! - Have fun.

You may find after looking through all of this that you would love to start roasting at home. But this all looks like so much work and effort....

....Well never fear, your solution is here - Why not check out some of these Home Roasters at Zaccardi’s

If you want to know my personal favorite - - - Oh alright then, look at the Zach and Dani's" or the "Hearthware I-Roast 2"

If you need more information on Home Roasting, there are a few options open to you - I would recommend the following book "Home Coffee Roasting" by Kenneth Davids who is widely recognised as one of the leading experts.

There are books around by Michael Sivetz who invented the hot air roasting process. If you can find one for under $200 you will be doing well - Hey! if you find one at all for a reasonable price - BUY IT! I have seen them priced at over $2,000

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