A Newbie"s Guide to Home Coffee Roasters
With today's home coffee roasters, you are able to immerse yourself in the entire coffee-making process at home.
You get to enjoy the most amazing fresh coffee flavor and save yourself some money in the process.
Before you get started with home coffee roasters, you need to do a little light reading so that you have some idea about what you are doing.
Let's get you started with this article.
The first thing you need to understand is how the different styles of coffee are created through the roasting process.
If you've been buying whole coffee beans for a while, you probably already understand the different degrees of roast.
No doubt you've tasted everything from a Light Cinnamon Roast through to a dark French Roast.
But did you know that each of these styles of bean is created by varying the time and temperature of the roasting process? You need to alter the time and temperature of the roast depending on the green bean that is being roasted.
During roasting, the coffee beans take on their deeper, more stereotypical "coffee" flavor, but they lose some of their "origin" flavor (the flavor beans get from the soil and weather conditions of the area in which the beans were gathered).
For this reason, Coffee beans from desirable areas such as Java and Kenya are often only lightly roasted to preserve their origin flavor.
The roast is also varied depending on the intended brewing method.
For example, Plunger (or press pot) coffee drinkers usually prefer a lighter roast and so the beans are roasted for a short time.
Espresso drinkers on the other hand love a strong, dark roast and the beans are often roasted until nearly burnt.
Of course, as a home coffee roaster, you also need to vary the roast depending on the roasting method (air roasting vs drum roasting) and the environmental conditions (air temperature, humidity, etc.
To help you gauge the time a bean should be roasted for, you need your eyes and ears.
Your eyes should be watching the color of the beans (especially towards the end to avoid burning) and your ears should be listening for the "first crack" and the "second crack".
What exactly does this mean? It's really quite simple.
Without going into too much science, the first crack of the coffee beans when you are roasting them happens when the moisture escapes from the bean as it is being heated.
You will actually hear the beans crackling for a minute or so.
Those who prefer a very light roast will stop roasting after the first crack.
The second crack is when the beans are at the end of the roasting process - and this is the time to stop the roast and cool the beans.
At this point, the beans will be very dark and produce a coffee that is strongly flavored, having most of it's origin flavor masked by the flavor of the roast.
Usually, even those that prefer dark coffee will pull their beans before the second crack, or just as it begins.
This is because the beans will continue to cook under their own heat until they are properly cooled with air or water.
It is a good idea for new home coffee roasters to keep a roasting diary.
As some of your first forays into home coffee roasting are sure to end in disaster, you want to keep track of what things work and what don't, and also what roasting times and settings you personally prefer in your home-roasted coffee beans.
Home coffee roasting is by and large a trial-and-error process.
You are bound to ruin a few batches at first, so the best thing you can do is just roast small amounts at a time so that you do not waste any valuable beans or time.
Once you hit upon the right combination you can move up to greater quantities and see if the same process works.
Coffee bean roasting is by no means an exact science, as there are many variables, as any chef can tell you.
For newbie home coffee roasters, the most important thing you can do is thoroughly research the subject before buying anything, then once you buy a roaster, take your time, experiment, and find out what sort of roast you personally prefer.