Not too long ago, it was common practice to buy coffee beans raw and roast them at home. Why did we stop this? There’s many reasons; one of them is simply that as a society we have become more practical, and after WWII there was a boost on kitchen gadgets. Some have remained such as the microwave, the coffeemaker, the electric blender, and many others have gone extinct (or almost extinct) such as the electric can opener and the retractable stove. Practicality is truly the deal breaker here, because roasting coffee at home is no matter for the faint hearted. Just one over roasted bean can make your whole batch taste bitter and almost as burnt wood. Not the type of smoky flavor any of us would honestly be into.
Achieving the perfect roast takes practice, and nowadays many have taken their time to learn it as a hobby, but for everyday use, almost as a society at large we have consciously or perhaps unconsciously decided to leave the roasting to the professional and nowadays we buy our coffee roasted and ready to be brewed.
The coffee expert James Hoffman, suggests that you can roast coffee beans in a popcorn maker. The results won’t be perfect, but your coffee will be roasted. Others would suggest that placing your raw beans on a baking sheet in the oven or simply on the stove can do the job, and this is what was traditionally done in most homes. But if you really want to get it right, there’s two types of machines that roast coffee to perfection: the hot-air roasting machine and the drum roasters.
In the hot air roasting machine it is actually the hot air that roasts the bean. There is no direct contact with fire or hot surfaces. That is how delicate roasting a coffee bean can be!
For the drum roaster, the machine is built as a tube that keeps the coffee moving throughout the roasting process. There are some very affordable options of machines to try such as this one. This roasting process is similar to the one of roasting peanuts, so if you already know how to do that, this will come with much ease!
If you’d like to roast at home, the beginners guide to do it starts with placing your raw green beans in a skillet over fire. You must constantly move them as they burn easily and they need to be in constant movement to absorb the heat without burning.
If you are trying the stove method, you can place a baking sheet with the raw green beans spread throughout. Make sure they are not piling on top of each other. Check the ventilation as a lot of smoke will be produced. As the beans roast, open the oven and move them around, because the downside of roasting this way is that the beans on the outside will roast faster than the beans on the inside.
Set your oven to 450°F and roast your beans for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the level and type of roast you’d like. Past the 15 minutes, the roast will be too dark to be truly enjoyable, but if you’d like to use these beans for espresso remember that you’ll need a dark roast so roast them closer to the 15 minutes.