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Home Coffee Roasting 101

Why roast coffee at home?

If you’re serious about your coffee, there’s nothing more satisfying than sipping on a coffee that you roasted yourself from home.

Connected by social media, a fast-growing community of coffee home roasters has bought this niche hobby to the mainstream and plenty of time spent at home during 2020, has seen the trend boom.

Although there’s a steep learning curve to creating the perfect home roast, there’s also a great deal of fun to be had in the experimentation:  trying new origins and rare micro-lots, comparing processing washed, natural and honey techniques, toying with roast profiles and eventually, creating your perfect blend.

Freshness is also the other key advantage of home roasting coffee: “Roasted beans start to lose their flavour after a few weeks so buying green beans – which can be stored 12 months plus in the right storing conditions, without going stale – allows coffee enthusiasts to roast small amounts each time to ensure the coffee is always fresh,” says David Train, LCM Selects.

Whilst home roasting might seem daunting, with the right advice and research, it won’t be long until you’re roasting like a pro and making coffee that tastes exactly how you like it.

Today we explore the key steps to creating your first at-home roast:

Sourcing Green Coffee

If you’re just starting out, consider experimenting with different varieties and origins to find out what makes your perfect cup.  As you purchase, consider comparing factors such as:

  • Elevation
  • Bean Density
  • Processing techniques
  • Microlots
  • Blends

Whatever you do, don’t skimp on the quality of your green beans, David says “The best coffee starts with exceptional green coffee”. If you’re looking to buy, consider Langdon Coffee Merchants now has a smaller green bean offering, LCM Selects. LCM Selects comes in 3kg bags, perfect for experimenting with different blends and origins.

Roasting Methods

There are several different methods to use for roasting coffee, and many different components to consider and compare when deciding the best option for you. Roasting beans can be done with a pan, an oven, a popcorn maker and a home roaster (preferred method).

A Pan: The majority of people own a pan, making it an accessible and popular method. Whilst it’s a very convenient and inexpensive technique, it can be tricky to get the correct temperature and also can become a very smoky process.

An Oven: This is also a convenient method, however similar to using a pan it can be very smoky and difficult to get an even roast profile. This method also tends to be slower than other techniques.

A Popcorn Machine: Whilst unconventional, certain types of popcorn machines can work well for roasting coffee beans. It’s an easy and relatively simple method to use for small quantities, however, keep in mind that using a popcorn machine will invalidate your warranty and some machines may struggle with the task.

Coffee Roaster: If you are serious about coffee and want to home roast for the long run, investing in a home roaster is the best way to go. Whilst they can be quite expensive, they are far better at roasting than the methods mentioned above and give you much more control over the roasting process. A home roaster is long-lasting and potentially a gateway into learning how to production roast, as well as the main fact that they are made to roast coffee (unlike a popcorn machine).

Time to Roast – using a home coffee roaster

No matter which method you use, smoke will be produced which is why it’s important to have good ventilation. Whether that’s by opening windows or roasting in an open garage space, make sure so the smoke can escape.

Be sure to read the manual of your coffee roaster before starting, which will take you through the various settings and profiles.

1. Check your manual to establish the amount of beans required and then place the coffee inside the roaster.

2. Some machines are full automation; however, times can vary depending on bean type, size, temperature and age of the machine. Therefore, it’s important to monitor the entire roasting process.

3. Listen for the coffee cracks; the first crack which is an exothermic reaction to roasting coffee means you are starting to develop the roast, this is typically where you would start identifying the roast as “light”, whilst the second crack indicates a “dark” roast. Generally speaking, the majority of roasts will fall between the first and second crack. If you roast past the second crack be careful of starting fires as you can start to burn all the moisture of the beans. Stop roasting once you are satisfied with the roast of the beans.

4. Remove and cool them down quickly (or else they’ll keep roasting).

5. Remove any chaff (the dried husk from the coffee bean).

6. Once the beans are room temperature they need to be stored in an airtight container, kept in a cool place away from the sun to preserve the flavours and help it last longer.

7. Wait at least twelve hours (for the beans to vent C02) before brewing your coffee.

Coffee Flavour Wheel
Coffee Flavour Wheel

Tasting and Sharing

  • Familiarise yourself with some of the more common coffee flavours, refer to the coffee flavour wheel.
  • Take notes recording flavours, what you like and don’t so you can learn for the next batch.
  • Understand that the origin of beans, processing method, roasting method and brewing method all contribute to the coffee flavour, so play around with various combinations.
  • Join a Home Roasters Community and ask for help!

The Big Question- is home roasting worth it?

Roasting coffee at home isn’t for everyone, but once you get the hang of it, it’s a rewarding process that ensures your coffee is always going to be fresh and just the way you like it.

If you’re planning to home roast for the first time or an experienced roaster looking to source high-quality green beans, LCM Selects offers a carefully curated range of quality beans in 3kg packs – ideal for home roasting. Check out the current range here.