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How to Roast Coffee Beans

Have you ever wondered, “How can I roast my own coffee beans?” Or perhaps you’ve been curious about the process used to roast coffee beans and want to find out more to satisfy your interest. Whatever the case might be, the process of roasting coffee beans is undeniably one that’s changed the way the world looks at these humble ingredients, and we’re covering some of the basics of how to roast coffee beans today to help.

how to roast coffee

Why Does Coffee Need to be Roasted?

Before we look further at how to roast coffee beans, it’s worth keeping in mind why this is important. In their post-harvested state, coffee beans are actually very green and plump with water. Not only would these un-roasted coffee beans give a distinctly grassy flavor (not in a good way, necessarily), but their water content would make grinding them a next-to-impossible goal regardless.

As such, before you can use your coffee beans, they will first need to be roasted in order to darken the beans and remove some of their moisture. This, in turn, will allow the beans to develop a more enjoyable, gently roasted flavor, as we all know and love. It’s worth considering that many of the coffee’s flavor profile traits and compounds will develop during the roasting stage, so this will significantly impact the taste of your final cup of coffee.

How to Roast Coffee Successfully

Roasting coffee beans isn’t an innately difficult process, but it does require some care and attention to ensure it’s done right. As such, we’ve provided a few simple steps to help guide you when roasting green, freshly-picked coffee beans as follows.

What Heating Method Should I Use?

Many people assume that they can roast their coffee beans on a tray in the oven. While this is not necessarily wrong, it isn’t always the easiest method to control (especially if you’re new to coffee roasting).

As such, we’d suggest giving skillet-roasting a try; keep moving the coffee beans around the skillet to achieve an excellent, even roast. Skillet roasting also promotes good airflow, which helps make the roast a little more even. However, don’t overload the skillet with coffee beans (a smaller amount will give much more consistent roasting).

Drying the Bean

The first stage in the coffee bean roasting process is the drying stage, referred to as the “yellowing” stage of the roast. During this stage, when the coffee bean is exposed to heat, it will slowly begin losing moisture content. It will also develop a yellower color accordingly, which may progress to a light brown, and, finally, dark brown color as the roast progresses.

Reaching the First Crack

If you prefer your coffee lightly roasted, you’ll want to remove the coffee beans from the heat immediately after the first crack occurs. During the heating process, a large crack forms on the shell of the coffee bean due to the high internal build-up of pressure. If left, the beans will crack further.

A lightly roasted coffee bean will usually still be relatively sweet and non-bitter since most of the sugars won’t have broken down due to heat exposure just yet!

Continuing the Roast

If you prefer your coffee more hard-roasted, you’ll want to continue leaving it on the heat after the first crack forms. You may notice the beans getting increasingly dark throughout this; don’t worry, as that’s normal. Remove the beans from the heat once they have cracked twice, and your coffee should now be roasted and ready to go.

Don’t forget: your coffee beans will continue to cook until you remove them from the heat. Even after they’re removed from the heat source, their latent heat will slowly continue to roast the coffee beans from the inside out shortly. As such, it’s generally recommended to cool the coffee beans as quickly as possible to help them reach room temperature with a fan. This prevents the coffee from getting over-roasted.

Grind and Serve ASAP

If you’ve gone to the effort of roasting coffee beans at home, we strongly recommend making the most of this by grinding and serving the coffee at the first possible opportunity. Freshly roasted coffee beans almost always have the best flavors if the roasting is done right.

So, don’t let the flavors in your freshly roasted coffee dwindle; try to serve it as soon as you can to retain many of these amazing combinations instead. You’ll be amazed at the difference this could make.

Storing Roasted Coffee

For any coffee beans that you don’t plan to use immediately, try to store them in a foil-lined bag in a cool cupboard to protect them from heat and sunlight. This will help prolong those amazing original flavors for as long as possible – but usually, around ten days in advance is the very maximum window you should consider for a great roast.

Final Thoughts

We often assume that roasting coffee beans is as simple as sticking them in the oven and letting them – well, roast. However, the reality of roasting coffee beans is a lot more complex than this.

Getting the process right for roasted coffee beans will often play a significant role in your overall success rates with using raw coffee, so be sure to keep today’s tips in mind to get the best results overall. Remember: roasting your own coffee beans at home can open up doors to allow you greater freedom and control over the features and properties of your coffee.

However, if you’re unsure whether home-roasted coffee is quite right for you, start with the highest-quality pre-roasted coffee you can source.