How to roast coffee beans

How to roast coffee beans

So you think that you’re a coffee aficionado, making the big jump from ground coffee purchased at the grocery store to the whole bean, perhaps even acquired at a coffee specialty shop? Not so fast!

Before thumbing noses at the rest of the world, get something straight. Once exposed to air, fresh ground coffee starts to stale after just a few hours. Freshly roasted whole beans begin to stale after a couple of weeks. Green coffee beans, properly stored, remain fresh for up to a year.

If being frugal is of no interest, then find a local coffee roaster who will divulge when the coffee beans have been roasted and consume all of the coffee within a couple of weeks after the roasting date.

But here’s a tidbit that few people know: green coffee beans can be purchased at less than half the price of roasted coffee beans. By roasting your own coffee beans, you can save money and begin an addicting new hobby.

Green coffee beans can be roasted in many different ways. Basically, the process involves exposing the beans to heat, which causes the beans to expand, roast, and darken. Beans should not be roasted at low temperatures, which will cause them to bake. And beans should not be roasted at high temperatures, which will cause them to char.

Beginners are recommended to purchase one of several home coffee roasters which have recently entered the kitchen specialty devices market. Some examples are the Alpenroast Drum Coffee Roaster, the Hearthware Home Coffee Roaster, and the Fresh Roast Coffee Bean Roaster. At this time, you can find prices in the $60 to $300 range, depending upon the product and features offered.

Coffee roasting is an art. Roasting times and temperatures vary, depending upon the method of roasting used and the roast desired. In general, all roasted coffee beans go through a “first crack” which sounds much like popcorn popping. The bean expands, and chaff is formed on the surface. Later, if roasting is continued, the coffee bean enters “second crack.” Here, the sound is sharper and sounds like rice cereal after adding milk.

Many roasters use several senses during the roasting process. By listening for the cracks, smelling the changing fragrances during the roast, and observing the beans changing from green to cinnamon to various shades of brown, the roaster determines when to cut off the heat source.

Some coffee aficionados prefer coffee roasted between first crack and second crack, where the beans retain the nuances attributable to the bean’s origin and type. Others prefer roasting into second crack, where many beans develop a full, smoky, caramelized flavor. Where the roast is stopped is left up to the tastes and preferences of the roaster.

Once the heat source is removed, the coffee needs to be cooled as quickly as possible to stop the roasting process. Many home roasters use a fan to cool the piping hot beans. Some people have developed their own cooling systems or sift the roasted beans between two colanders until the beans are cool to the touch.

Freshly roasted beans should be stored overnight to develop flavors. Grind the freshly roasted beans, brew the coffee, and enjoy. Now you’re a true coffee aficionado and have earned the right to hold your nose high in the air.

Freshly roasted

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