Roasting your own beans and brewing a cup of finely tuned coffee is an incredibly satisfying feeling. Home roasted coffee beans are not only fresher and offer unique flavor complexities that you cannot find in shop-bought coffee, it is also modestly priced and requires little to zero investment in specialised equipment to turn raw beans into a spectacular cup of coffee. If you are looking to learn how you can easily and conveniently roast your own coffee, you have come to the right place. With just a little enthusiasm and some practice, you will become one of the most proficient Australian coffee roasters who have mastered the art of brewing a cup to meet their specific tastes and preferences.
Why roast your own coffee?
There is no one straight up answer as to why you would need to roast your own coffee because different home coffee roasters have their own distinct reasons. The main ideas, however, remain the same. The top reason why you would consider home roasted coffee is that freshly roasted coffee tastes better, it is rich in minerals, and tastes smooth without the acrid acid taste that many associate with coffee bought from the shop.
Because coffee has very short shelf life and stays fresh for between 7 and 10 days only. Raw coffee, on the other hand, has a stable shelf life and can be stored fresh until it is ready to be roasted. When you have stock of raw coffee, you get to choose how much you can consume within a reasonable time to allow you to always have fresh roasted coffee.
Another reason to roast your own coffee is that you get to save money on buying coffee beans. For as little as half the price of shop-bought coffee, and within a short time of as little as 6 minutes a day, you can brew and drink a fresh sweet-smelling cup of delicious roasted coffee cup. There is no greater benefit of roasting your own coffee than being in control of the roasting and the brewing process. You can dial your coffee to your personal preferences, and a cup of fresh coffee will always be just a roast away. The rewards of learning to be the best coffee roaster you know is worth the effort—I assure you.
Basic Requirements to Roast Your Own Coffee
Although it sounds like a complex process, roasting coffee actually boils down to just four key steps that you need to know to be a master coffee roaster. There are of course different coffee roasting techniques, each with its own set of slightly different challenges and processes, but the primary requirements are all the same. These are:
Heat: Roasting coffee beans is essentially subjecting them to temperatures of between 240 0 C and 275 0 C.
Bean agitation: During roasting, the beans or the air around them must be agitated or moved continuously to prevent scorching and uneven roasting of the beans.
Mitigating chaff and smoke: Roasting coffee beans leaves a residue of chaff and smoke as the waste products of the roasting process. Different roasting techniques and varietals produce varying quantities of both, you will need to use the appropriate way to get rid of them during and after the roasting process.
Cooling the roasted beans: Once roasting is complete, the coffee beans must be cooled fast. There are different ways of cooking the beans, the most common being placing them in a large metallic colander and shaking or stirring them until they cool down. Quick cooling is essential to producing consistently high quality roast beans.
Must-know factors about coffee roasting
1. Coffee taste is all about the smell
When you begin heating the raw coffee beans, they will at first turn yellowish in color then begin emitting a grassy smell. The sign that the beans have begun to roast is when they start to smoke, like real coffee. It is important to note that the taste of coffee is in its’ smell.
2. Listen for a crackling sound
When you begin roasting coffee beans, the moisture and water elements inside them will start to evaporate away, causing a crackling sound as the beans dry up. The crackling occurs at two stages as the temperature rises and roasting takes place. With time, you will get to know when your beans are fully or almost properly roasted based on the crackling sound.
3. The colour of the beans is determined by the length of the roast
As you begin roasting the beans, they will be green in color and will quickly undergo color transformations as you apply heat. The array of colors determine how much heat has been applied and how the coffee would taste at that point.
In the opening stages of roasting when the internal bean temperature is below 200 0 C, the coffee beans are dry with no oil droplets. The beans will be light brown in color with a hay-like humid smell and are non-palatable. They are generally uncooked and will have a sour taste when ground in such state. The sweetness is also low and the aroma medium.
Cinnamon Roast: At this stage, the beans turn light brown to cinnamon in color. While they are still dry and have no oil droplets, you can stop the roast at this point just before the first crack is completed. You will begin to smell the first toasted smells—toasted grains and seeds or bread. The coffee at this stage have very low body and acidity levels.
American Roast: The beans at medium light brown color can be considered well-cooked by someone who wants a not-so-strong coffee taste. The beans would still be dry with internal temperature of between 200 0 C and 220 0 C. You will begin hearing the first crack as the aroma changes to caramel and the beans begin to emit smoke. The body increases marginally and the acidity brightens at this stage. The beans have a mild sweetness taste, full body and full aroma.
City Roast: Characterized by a rich medium brown color, the acidity of the coffee beans begins to rise and the body becomes stronger. The internal bean temperature ranges between 210 0 C and 230 0 C as the first crackling stage is finished. At this point, half of the sugar content is caramelized, the acidity of the beans is developed and you can clearly taste the varietal features of the bean. The beans have a mild sweetness taste, a full body and a strong coffee aroma. When brewed in this state, the coffee is rich in taste and low on acid content.
Full City: The beans are defined by a rich brown color and may show tiny oil droplets. At this stage of roasting, the beans have a good balance of body, acidity, and sweetness between 2210 C and 2350 C. The first snaps of the second crack begin at this point. The beans’ varietal characteristics are present as acidity levels decrease and the bittersweet “roast” taste develops. Also referred to as light French roast, this state gives the beans a strong aroma, a strong sweetness taste and the beans are full body.
Vienna Roast: Known as French or espresso, dark brown coffee beans are a preference for many. The beans have a moderate dark brown color at the start of the Vienna roast stage because of the oil they have. At internal temperatures of between 230 0 C and 240 0 C, you can hear the second crack as it reaches completion. The acidity is muted at this point and your cup of coffee would have an outstanding bittersweet taste with heavier body.
French Roast: Some call this stage Italian when the beans are very dark (almost black). The dark brown beans are fully covered with oil and the levels of acids are radically reduced. With internal temperature of between 235 0 C and 2400 C, the subtler nuances are gone and body shadows the burnt undertones. The beans are known as dark French or Spanish when they are very dark, almost black. The beans have a weak body, low sweetness and a mild aroma.
Methods of Roasting Coffee at Home
There are many different methods you can choose from to use to roast your coffee beans. Whatever method you choose, the characteristics of roasted beans you need to know are the same for the most part, and the ideal method will be determined by the results you get. It is highly recommended that you begin your coffee roasting adventure with the old popcorn pooper or frying pan technique.
If you do not have experience in roasting coffee beans, such simple and inexpensive methods will enable you to determine whether roasting is something you will want to do long-term. It is also a perfect way to find out exactly how you want your roasted coffee, which type of roaster will work for you, and whether you should invest in a roasting machine.
Coffee roasting can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be; the roasting method you use is a great part of the fun. In this section, we will cover a number of great and diverse roasting methods and tips, as well as the results you would expect when you use them.
Fluid Bed Roasting: Most home coffee roasters use the fluid roasting technique. In this method, you use a fluid bed made of hot hair that both heats and agitates the coffee beans. The best example of this method is the “popcorn popper” method mentioned above.
Radiant Heat Roasting: Radiant heat coffee roasting relies on the beans passing close to or coming in contact with a heated surface. With this method, you keep the beans in constant motion to ensure that they are evenly roasted in a rotating drum.
Conduction Roasting: Roasting beans at home using the conduction method involves the use of a roaster that brings the beans in contact with a hot surface such as that of a frying pan. This is one of the oldest but very effective ways to roast coffee. The only downside is that to achieve consistent results, you must pay attention to detail and practice over and over to know when exactly when to stop the heat.
Tips and Tricks for Better Home Made Coffee
1.Decorate your lattes: Decorating your lattes is not as hard as you might think. When coffee-loving guests pay you a visit, decorating their cups would reinforce a feeling they have that you are a pro based on the high quality of the roast and brew of the coffee. Decorating lattes is achieved by pouring coffee with melted chocolate. It may seem hard at first, but with experience, you will be amazed at what you can do.
2.Brew iced coffee for the hot seasons: It is mostly hot in Australia, but this doesn’t mean you ditch coffee for a cold drink. Just brew an ice cold cup of coffee. Do not rush it, just roast the coffee to your preferred taste, and after brewing a cup, put it in a tight-lid container inside the freezer for a few hours. It may take several tries to get it perfectly right, but it is something worth a try.
3.Re-use the coffee grounds: Coarsely-ground coffee beans form a semi-paste when used all at once. Do not throw this away if you are going to make another cup in a short time. Keep it in an air-tight container and store in a dry cool place. You can use this to make another cup or even use it in cleaning and gardening when its taste is all rinsed away.
4.Store your beans the right way: Not all coffee beans should be stored in the freezer. Know how to store your kind of beans such that it doesn’t lose its taste. It is advisable that you divide your stash into small weekly amounts and keep the stash you are using presently in an air-tight container at room temperature and the rest in a freezer or fridge.
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K.L. Johnston Pty. Ltd., Trading as Premium Coffee Roasters are passionate and committed to “small batch” specialty coffee roasting. We select only the finest Arabica coffees from around the world to produce blends to please the most discerning palate.
The balance of aroma, acidity, body and after-taste produce the special flavours, whether it is for espresso, plunger or filter methods.