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How to Roast Your Own Coffee Beans: Easy Step-by-Step Guide

If you’re a real coffee enthusiast, you know it’s not enough to just buy roasted coffee beans for your cup of coffee. I’m sure you want to level up at some point and roast the beans yourself. 

Once you master this technique, you can control the roast—from light to medium to dark—for a custom flavor and taste. By doing this, you discover new and unique hacks you can use time and again at home.

So, let me help you learn how to roast your own coffee beans like a pro. 

But first, it would be good to understand… 

What Is Coffee Roasting?

green and black coffee beans

Simply put, coffee roasting is the process of turning green coffee into flavorful, fragrant, dark brown coffee beans.

As you start to roast your coffee, it goes from green to a faintly pale, white color. The chaff or silver skin on the outside of the beans peels off during roasting. The green coffee should turn pale at around two to three minutes into the roasting process.

Some home roasting techniques are a little bit faster. In the next stage, the beans turn orange or tan in color. At this point, they lose some of the moisture content, becoming a little bit lighter in weight. It can take up to 10 minutes to reach the tan stage.

Then the beans develop their first crack, producing a popping sound. Now the coffee has a dark surface texture, which is an indication of a very good roast. A second crack occurs, which is where the coffee develops various flavors and oils.

Why Roast Your Own Coffee

Here are some of the top reasons you should be roasting your own beans.

Cost-Effective

Buying unroasted green coffee is much cheaper than roasted coffee. Not to mention that a cup of coffee in town may cost more than one pound of green beans. Unlike commercially roasted coffee beans that tend to lose flavor quickly, green coffee can be stored for a long time.

Freshness

Freshly roasted coffee is amazingly subtle. I guarantee that you’ll love it! Of course, it depends on the flavor you pick. Green beans are usually recently harvested, which means that they are fresh most of the time.

Choice and Variety

With commercially roasted coffee, the brands decide the origin of the green coffee.

When you get your own green beans, however, you can choose from a specific origin like the Americas, East African, or Asia. You can choose Brazil’s green beans for a chocolate nut flavor after roasting, or Ethiopia’s green beans for blueberry, bergamot, and jasmine aftertaste once roasted.

How to Roast Your Own Coffee Beans at Home?

Coffee Roast Levels

Before you learn how to roast your own coffee beans, let’s first go through the various roast levels you can get.

Light Roast Beans

These beans are usually roasted for a very short time. They may not have oils in them because the roasting process didn’t use very high temperatures.

Light roasts are generally quite acidic because the beans were not exposed to heat long enough to pull out the acidity and caffeine. Not a lot of people realize this, but lightly roasted beans have the highest amount of caffeine. This roast level is normally used for Arabica coffee.

The short roast duration means the beans haven’t undergone all the chemical changes. So, if you choose this level of roast, you will have a different taste profile. The high acidity level is usually characterized by a lemon or citrus tone, which some coffee fans love.

The first crack (popcorn popping sound) happens in this stage of roasting.

Medium Roast Beans

Medium roast is one of the most popular coffee out there. It is roasted a little bit longer than the light roast, and it is more well-rounded as well as less acidic.

A medium roast takes place between the first and second crack. The additional time in which the beans are exposed to heat leads to the development of a brown color and a toasty flavor. When compared to a light roast, a medium roast has more heft but with minimal to no oil on the surface.

The caffeine content is less in medium roast than in light roast.

Dark Roast Beans

To get to the dark roast, the beans must be exposed to heat beyond the second crack. But this doesn’t mean that you roast the beans until they are excessively smoked.

After the second crack, the beans have a dark brown color and an oily surface. They have the lowest level of acidity and the heaviest body. Dark roast beans are bold and rich. They are usually characterized by chocolate, toast, some bitterness, and smokiness.

Methods of Roasting Coffee at Home

Here are the various methods you can use to roast your own coffee beans at home:

Fresh Roaster SR540

The first method you can try at home is with a portable coffee roaster. We recommend the Fresh Roaster SR540.

What You Need:

  • Fresh Roaster SR540
  • Green coffee beans

Step-By-Step Instructions

Step 1: Measure the Amount of Green Beans You Want to Roast
measure the amount of green beans you want to roast

This roaster can handle up to 5 ounces. It comes with a scoop that you can use. The recommended dose is usually four scoops. Overfilling the unit may not give the best roasting results.

Step 2: Setup the Roaster and Start Roasting
set up the roaster and start roasting

Connect the roaster to your wall socket and set it up. The original factory settings have the fan at about five, the heat at nine, and the time at around six minutes. You can change the default settings by toggling around.

Pour your beans into the machine and put the head back on top. Hit the run button to start roasting. The device has a thermostat, which is great because it gives you accurate temperature settings.

Turn the fan all the way up near the fourth minute to make sure that the beans are agitated. Then, turn it a little bit down before the first crack (popcorn popping sound). Turn the heat down a little bit after the first crack.

Put the device into cool mode once you hear the crackles (second crack), and turn the fan up to help the beans cool down faster.

Roasting with an Oven

The second popular method for roasting coffee at home is with an oven.

What You Need:

  • An oven
  • Green coffee beans
  • A perforated pan
  • A bowl with a strainer
  • Good-quality oven mitts

Step-By-Step Instructions

Step 1: Set Up Your Oven
set up your own oven

Start by preheating your oven to 460 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 2: Measure the Beans and Prep them for Roasting
measure the beans and prep them for roasting

Measure the correct amount of beans you want to roast. How many beans you roast depends entirely on you. But you should go with 16 ounces if this is your first time roasting green coffee. This is a good amount that will last you about five days.

Pour the 16 ounces of beans into the perforated pan and use your hand to spread them into an even layer. Create a donut shape in the middle. Make sure each bean sits on the pan and not on top of the other.

Step 3: Put the Beans in the Oven and Start Roasting
place the beans in the oven and start roasting

Place the pan containing the green beans into the preheated oven and close the door. It should take about 10 to 12 minutes to get the best results. But expect the time to vary a little bit.

The most important trick when using an oven to roast your green coffee is to listen for the popcorn popping sound. The first sound you will hear is for the first crack. As time moves on, the pops will get a little bit more consistent.

It will get quiet for a little while and then the roasting process will move on to the second crack, which sounds like a fire crackling. You will hear fainter crackles happening more consistently.

Stay near the oven when you hear the second crack. The timer will normally go off around this time, which is around 10 or 11 minutes. What you should expect near the end is the changing appearance of the beans.

If you want a light roast, then you can turn off the heat after the first crack. For a medium roast, just before the second crack (the beans should be brown). For a dark roast, let the second crack happen, and then look for a dark brown appearance with a shiny surface.

Step 4: Turn Off the Heat and Remove the Beans
turn off the heat and remove the beans

Turn off the heat and open the oven to access your roasted coffee. One of the main drawbacks of this method is the amount of smoke that will be coming out of the oven when you open the door.

Turn your hood fan up to full blast and then open the oven door and remove the pan containing the roasted coffee. Remember to wear mitts to avoid burning your hands.

Step 5: Separate the Chaff From the Roasted Beans
separate the chaff from the roasted beans

Shake the pan to loosen the beans a little bit and transfer them into your strainer—the bigger the holes the better. The chaff on the beans is dry because of the roasting process. With gloves on, massage the coffee to remove the flaky chaff from the beans.

Shake the strainer to force the chaff to fall through.

Stovetop Roasting With a Cast Iron Pan

The third popular method you can consider is using a cast iron pan on a stove.

What You Need:

  • A gas burner
  • 12-inch cast-iron pan
  • Green coffee (3/4 cup)
  • Timing device

Step-By-Step Instructions

Step 1: Set Up the Stove and Pan
set up the stove and pan

Place the pan on the stovetop. Then turn the heat to medium and allow the cast-iron pan to heat for about 60 seconds before you start the roasting process.

Step 2: Start the Roasting Process
start the roasting process

Pour the beans into the pan to start roasting. Once you have added your beans, immediately start to stir, which should be constant to ensure the green coffee is roasting evenly as well as consistently. Use a metal whip whisk for stirring the beans.

When roasting at the ideal temperatures, you should take around 12 minutes to get the best roasting results.

Patience is key when using this method because you may not see any changes in color until the eighth or ninth minute. You will hear the first crack around the ninth minute, while you’re still constantly stirring the beans. The first crack will be a light popping noise that you will hear from the beans. You can remove the beans from the heat at this point if you desire lightly roasted coffee.

If a medium roast is what you are after, then allow the beans to heat up a little bit longer. The color should be brown and the surface should have little to no oil.

But for a dark roast, you should allow the beans to roast until you hear the second crack (fire crackles sound). The beans will have a dark brown color and an oily surface.

Step 3: Remove the Chaff
remove the chaff

Once you have reached your preferred roasting level, it’s time you remove the chaff from the beans.

You can use a colander for this step. Just place the colander in a stainless steel bowl and pour the freshly roasted coffee. You can wear a glove and use your hand to massage the beans to remove the chaff.

Alternatively, you can use a whip whisk to stir the coffee in the colander. This will force the chaff to come off.

Allow the beans to cool and transfer them into a zip bag for storage.

Note: The success of this method mainly depends on your stirring technique. Unlike a portable coffee roaster and an oven, the stovetop heat is not evenly distributed on the pan. So, you have to stir constantly to ensure each bean receives the correct amount of heat.

Roasting with Popcorn Air Popper

The fourth popular method is with a popcorn air popper.

What You Need:

  • Popcorn air popper
  • Timing device
  • Green coffee beans (smaller size)

Step-By-Step Instructions

Step 1: Fill the Air Popcorn Popper With the Ideal Amount of Coffee
fill the popper with green beans

Start by filling the popper with 1/2 cup of green coffee beans. We recommend a smaller size for this method because of the small chamber. 

Put the lid back on and place a metallic colander under your popper’s discharge chute. The discharge chute is for catching any chaff that will be released from the roasting beans during the process.

Step 2: Turn on the Device to Start Roasting
turn on the device to start roasting

Switch on the unit to start roasting. You should see the green beans agitating in the roasting chamber. This agitation is good because it will result in an even roast. Start stirring as early as possible in the roasting process for the best results.

Because of the agitation, you should expect to lose a few beans, which will be collected by the colander.

At about one minute and 15 seconds, you should see the beans releasing chaff into the air. At this point, remove the stirring stick and put the roasting cap back on to reduce the mess caused by the flying flaky chaff.

Unlike the oven and stovetop methods that take longer to show significant changes in the roasting process, you can expect to see some nice changes in about two and half minutes when you use the popcorn machine. At this point, you should hear the first crack as the moisture in the beans starts to heat and expand, and this will sound like popping popcorns.

The roasting process should continue to advance pretty quickly. You should expect to reach the second crack at about the fourth-minute mark. A few seconds on and the beans will be in the dark roast state.

Step 3: Pour the Beans Into the Colander
pour the beans into the colander

Turn the device off and pour the roasted beans into the colander. Then use a whip whisk to stir the beans. This should help you get rid of the flaky chaff. You can also wear a glove and massage the beans to remove the chaff.

FAQs

Is it worth roasting my own coffee?

Yes, it is worth your effort and time if you value fresh flavor every morning. The freshness of roasted coffee is only good for about a week.

Can I easily get a medium roast at home?

You can get a medium roast if you are good with your timing. You must have heard the first crack and then remove them from heat a few moments before the second crack.

How can I flavor coffee beans with home roasting techniques?

Start by choosing a coffee blend with a superior flavor profile. You can also infuse a highly concentrated syrup into the beans.

Final Thoughts

You might have been wondering why we recommend you roast coffee at home. It’s quite simple; most commercially roasted coffee beans take time before they get into the market. The freshness of the roast is usually lost during this time. Roasted beans have the freshest flavors during the first week after roasting. You can keep on drinking fresh flavors by roasting coffee at home.

Not to mention that some of these methods are very convenient and cheap. For example, if you don’t have a budget for a portable coffee roaster, you can always turn to your cast-iron pan and the stovetop to roast coffee at home. And with that, happy roasting!

Avatar for Krista Haws

Known among her friends as 'the caffeine fiend', Krista loves all things coffee. From an extremely short, strong espresso to a 3 day cold brew, Krista loves them all.

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