An air popcorn popper makes a decent home roaster for coffee beans. It works well, or at least well enough. I roast outside and let the beans cool and rest uncovered inside at room temp. Grind and brew in the morning. Good stuff. I keep the remaining roasted beans in air-tight glass container.
On Sep 5, 2013, we received our first shipment of green coffee beans from Sweet Maria's.
- French Press
- Tip Sheet for Drip Brewing Filtercones
- Brewing coffee tips
Each bag weighs slightly more than a pound. For example, the El Salvador bag of beans weighed 468 grams. One pound equals 454 grams.
These coffees ranged in price between $6.50 and $7.50 per pound. Shipping costs made the three-bag total price be $30.00.
The roasted coffee beans that we buy locally cost between $10.00 and $13.00 per pound, so roasting our own beans is about the same price. If we bought larger amounts from Sweet Maria's, then maybe the shipping cost relative to the total price will be lower. Unsure about that.
Roasting our own beans allows us to control the taste.
- Outside Finca Matalapa
- Arrival date June 2013 Arrival
- Appearance .0d/300gr, 16 - 18 Screen
- Grade SHB/EP
- Processing Wet Process (Washed)
- Region La Libertad District
- Varietal(s) Bourbon
- Intensity/Prime attribute Medium intensity / Malic fruits, mild citrus, cocoa RoastThis coffee does great in the City+ to Full City range, but will hold up to Full City+ as well.
- The cup tastes of fresh caramel and almond, and with a subtle bittering cocoa quality. Complexity builds in the cooling cup, and notes of apple, pear, and mild citrus 'pop'. Layered chocolate notes are dominant in darker roasts, while still retaining aspects of malic fruit. This is such a great option for a "classic", SO espresso.
- Ricardo Koyner, the farmer behind Duncan Estate
- Arrival date July 2013 Arrival
- Appearance .2 d/300gr, 15-17 Screen
- Grade SHB EP
- Processing Wet Process (Washed)
- Region Boquete, Panama
- Varietal(s) Typica
- Intensity/Prime attribute Medium intensity/Big sweetness, brilliant acidity, lightly fruited, toasted nut
- Roast This is a flexible coffee that will show well anywhere from City to Full City. Dark roasts will make a great espresso.
- Duncan Estate is a uniquely sweet coffee. The sweetness in the dry grounds runs the range from graham cracker to honey and with wafts of dried stone fruits. Dark roasts bolster the smell of sweet baking spices and burning sugars. Diverse honeyed sweetness permeates the wet grounds and there's a delicious smell of maple butter and blackberry syrup (which is intensified at darker roast levels). The cup is so sweet, which comes through loud and clear, even when the cup is hot
Guatemala Huehuetenango Baudilio Castillo Micro-Lot
- A blog post from late July or early August mentions this lot arriving at Sweet Maria's, but no other information about this bean exists on the Sweet Maria's website. Maybe they sold out of the small lot and removed info about it.
- From Google cache/search results: The cup has balanced sweetness, acidity, great body and mouthfeel. There's a caramel flavor along with a bit of milk chocolate. It's fruited too, but they don't dominate the profile. As the cup cools spiced aspects of cinnamon, mace, and all-spice develop nicely in the finish, with a touch of orange rind. Darker roasts have some dark berry notes, along with well developed sugars - toffee, caramel, and even a bit of nougat. This makes an excellent single origin espresso, with our shots producing intense caramel sweetness, high % dark chocolate, and bracing, berry-like acidity. City to Full City.
- City to Full City.
- Balanced sweetness, spice hints, dark berry notes, developed sugars, good SO espresso.
- roasted Panama Organic Duncan Estate coffee beans.
- two batches.
- 2/3 of a cup of beans per batch.
- used our Orville Redenbacher Air Popcorn Popper.
- roasted outside.
- placed popper on patio table.
- plugged big, yellow, outdoor extension cord into garage outlet.
- put on one oven mitt.
- plugged popper electric cord into extension cord, which turns on the air popper.
- started stop watch.
- added 2/3 of a cup of beans to popper.
- put on the other oven mitt.
- began stirring beans immediately.
- stirred beans with the skinny handle of a wooden spoon down in the beans.
- stirred constantly and vigorously. hand, wrist, forearm gets a little tired.
- the thin, paper-like outer husks of the beans begin coming off and floating up out of the popper within the first minute. a light amount of these husks.
- still stirring fast to keep beans evenly roasted.
- at approx the 2 min and 50 sec mark, first crack begins.
- a lot more of the outer bean husks float up after first crack.
- first crack continues for 30 seconds or so.
- then it quiets down.
- for the first batch, i pulled the plugged, stopped roasting at the 4:25 mark.
- for the second batch, i stopped roasting at the 4:10 mark.
- the popper had cooled between batches.
- i think second crack was beginning at the 4:15 to 4:20 mark.
- after roasting ended, quickly dumped beans into a colander.
- toss hot beans in colander until beans can be easily touched or grabbed with bare hands. this tossing and cooling will take 5 to 10 minutes.
- place beans in an open glass bowl or jar.
- let beans rest overnight with no lid on the bowl/jar. CO2 gasses need to escape.
- grind and brew the next morning. aeropress is our favorite method.
- place unused beans in an airtight glass container, and store at room temp on counter.
- if continuing to roast through and after second crack, then that will produce a dark roast or a French roast, meaning the beans will be near-black and a bit oily.
- i try to stop before a French roast, producing a mocha-colored bean.
- later this week with these same beans, I'll stop roasting at the 3:30 to 3:45 mark to produce a lighter colored bean and a different flavor.
- normally, i buy French roast beans at the store, but through our initial experimentation of roasting at home, the lighter at-home roasts taste better and have more interesting and complex flavors than the darker at-home roasts.
I liked the Guatemala micro-lot coffee listed above a lot. I don't think it's for sale right now at Sweet Maria's.
I've been roasting beans between 3:30 and 4:00 minutes.
The first crack occurs at different times. I don't know if that depends upon the bean type or the outdoor temperature. I would think that in a very small confined heated space like the popcorn popper that the outdoor temp would have little influence on roasting times.
Since the Aeropress only produces one cup at a time, I've been using the French press pot, and I like the muddy coffee the press pot produces. It tastes great black or with a small amount of heavy cream.
If leftover coffee exists, I place the press pot in the frig, and start the next morning with a small dose of chilled coffee, which also tastes great plain or black.
They also recommend a burr grinder, scale, and thermometer as you do in the your last paragraph.
... the key is to start with the Golden Ratio of 17.42 units of water to 1 unit of coffee. The ratio will get you into that optimal zone, plus it is unit-less, which means you can use grams, ounces, pounds, stones ... So if you're hoping for a 20 percent extraction against 1.28 percent Total Dissolved Solids, you can start with 30 grams of dry coffee grounds, 523 grams of water, and then adjust from there.
Immersion methods, like the French Press, leave all coffee beans in the full quantity of water for the brew time, and by using filters that remove only coffee grounds, produce a flavorful, full-bodied cup of coffee with natural oils.
Pourover methods, such as the Chemex or the V60, generally combine the use of a paper filter with a specific coffee grind to limit the rate at which water flows through the coffee, generally in a cone-shape, which results in a "clean" (less oily) cup of coffee with more fruity and citrusy flavors.
The line between immersion and pourover coffees is blurred by hybrid brewing methods such as the Aeropress or the Syphon, which mix ground beans and water for the full brewing time, then extrude through a filter that extracts oils from the coffee.
Brewing coffee in our large french press pot: 45 grams of ground coffee, 784 grams of water at 190 to 200 degrees F. add enough water to cover grounds, stir, let sit for 30 seconds, add rest of water. steep for at least 4 minutes.
Another, easier to remember ratio: 40 g of coffee and 700 g of water.
Have to be careful not to fill the press pot with too much water. Try to stop just below the metal band, located near the top of press pot.
Maximizing coffee taste is similar to producing the best tasting bread.
A huge amount of brewed coffee can be purchased for under a dollar at convenience stores/gas stations. Pre-sliced, limpy bread sold in a plastic bag can be bought in stores. In my opinion, that's not real coffee, and that's not real bread.
- location beans are grown:
- soil and climate - like grapes for wine.
- some beans lend themselves to a darker roast while others are better if roasted lighter.
- brewing methods:
- beans with hints of fruitiness may taste better if brewed with the pourover method. (some Central American beans)
- Bolder beans may taste better if brewed with a press pot. (some African beans)
- time between roasting and brewing.
- I think the ideal time frame is to brew beans within 7 days of being roasted.
- allowing the beans to "age" a couple days after roasting and before brewing may produce more flavor.
- the burr grinder is recommended over the whirly blade grinder for producing better tasting grounds.
- grind right before brewing.
- after roasted beans have cooled in the open air over night, then store beans at room temp, away from sunlight, in airtight container.
Currently, we use a whirly blade grinder. Burr grinders cost between $100 and $300 or more.
If upgrading roasters from the air popcorn popper, the Behmor 1600 Roaster (drum-style) cost around $300.
The French Press Pot has been my main brewing method for 2014.
I weigh 35 grams of beans before grinding.
Water temp around 175 to 185 degrees F.
Add enough water to cover the ground coffee in the press pot, stir, and let rest or "bloom" for 30 seconds, which releases some gasses, I think.
Add water to fill near top. I use the large press pot.
I wrap the press pot with a small swatch of wool that I knitted for practice.
Let steep for at least 5 minutes before serving.
When drinking, I find that I need nothing else added. The coffee straight or black is fine.
Updated for 2015-2016: - After breaking too many glass press pots over the years, we purchased a metal, insulated press pot. We also acquired an electric kettle to warm the water at a preset temperature.
I generally measure between 38 and 42 grams of coffee beans. We still grind in a whirly blade grinder. I warm the water to 188 degrees.
In late April 2016, I roasted decaf coffee beans. This year, we started buying regular and decaf coffee beans from local roasters, such as Bea's Blend, which sells downtown at the Toledo Farmers Market. Then we mix the beans, creating our own half-and-half.
I've only drank decaf coffee once or twice by itself and not mixed with regular coffee, and I didn't like it. But drinking the decaf coffee that was made from the beans that I roasted was surprisingly delicious. This is a good drink in the evening.
Roasting the decaf beans was a little different. Time-wise, I would stick with stopping around 3:30 to 3:45 minutes. On my first decaf batch, I stopped after approximately 4:15, and the beans were too dark, and the beans had a slight burnt taste. They still tasted well. For the next batch, I stopped roasting after around the 3:45 minute mark. This was better.
The decaf beans seem to lack the papery outer husks. I noticed very little cracking. It's best to follow the watch as a guide and pay close attention to color.
I was reluctant to try roasting decaf beans, but now I'm glad that we bought the large bag of beans from Sweet Maria's.
I've been roasting regularly for the past few months. We have not purchased coffee beans in a long while.
Deb ordered another batch of one-pound samplers from Sweet Maria's. The green coffee beans arrived yesterday, Oct 12, 2017.
On Fri evening, Oct 13, 2017, I roasted a couple batches of coffee beans. I roast only a half-cup of beans per batch. The two batches should last us three to four days.
The roasting equipment is simple.
We continue to roast coffee beans on a regular basis. We also continue to buy roasted coffee beans occasionally from Bea's Blend at the Toledo farmers market for backup purposes, such as for Thanksgiving when family visits.
Recently, Deb purchased another large sample pack of several one-pound green coffee beans from Sweet Maria's. We enjoy one bean in particular that I roasted.
Guatemala Antigua Finca Pavon City+ to FC: High % cacao bar with black currant, dark grape, grape skins. Brown sugar sweetness, mild yet clean fruit juice-like acidity. SO Espress. GCX-5447
The outdoor temps when roasting in November have been in the 30s. This makes the process take a little longer. I have been stopping the roasting process around the 4:30 mark. I roast 45 to 60 seconds longer, compared to warmer weather.
These two seem like good, affordable choices for first-time burr grinder owners.
- The Capresso 565 Infinity Stainless Steel Grinder - 4.2 ave rating out of 4,417 customer reviews. 79% were for 4 and 5 stars.
- The Standard Capresso Infinity Grinder - 153 reviews, 4 stars ave.
The reviewers choose Baratza Virtuoso.
In reent weeks, I have drank the best coffee ever at home. Black or plain. The coffee requires nothing added. Pour overs and French press brews taste great.
I think back in the summer, I may have been roasting a little too light. I know that I stopped roasting while first crack still occurred.
In recent weeks, I have roasted a little beyond first crack with different beans, and the resulting coffee brews have all tasted amazing. It's not only the bean, it's the roast too.
I have roasted beyond first crack with beans that are described as City+ to FC+.
We have several more one-pound bags of different beans that suggest different roasts. I'll either roast the same as I have been and see what happens or adjust the roast to the bean as suggested.
When first crack ends or when it gets quiet. I wait another 10 to 20 seconds to ensure no more cracking, and if it remains quiet, then I stop roasting.
I have enjoyed this bean:
- Ethiopia Agaro - Nano Challa Cooperative
- City to Full City
- White honey sweetness, mild fruit, jasmine floral accent notes, ginger chews, citrus, Ricola-like dark herbal aspect.
- Good for espresso
Other beans that we roasted in the late winter and spring include:
- Panama Boquete Finca San Sebastian
- Costa Rica Helsnar - Asdrubal Chavez
Here's another tasty coffee bean that I roasted in April 2018.
- Burundi Kibumtu Kayokwe Lot 1
- City to City+
- Wonderful brewed, tea-like to lemon brightness, dark cranberry juice, complex baking spice notes, resonant sweetness.
- "A sparkling cup."
Discarding empty green coffee bean bags that contained beans that I roasted in the past.
- Burundi Kibumtu Kayokwe Lot 1 - City to City+ - enjoyed this one.
- Costa Rica Helsar - Asdrubal Chavez - FC to FC+
- Panama Boquete Finca San Sebastian - City+ to FC
- Ethiopia Agaro - Nano Challa Cooperative - City to Full City - enjoyed this one.
I'm going to roast a new bag of beans today.
- Brazil Dry Process Santa Luzia Bourbon
- City+ to Vienna
- Sweet Maria's description: "A profile constructed of roasted nut, cooked fruit, rustic sugar, and bittersweet cocoa notes. A great blend base. Good for espresso."
Sweet Maria's website: How to roast coffee
Yellowing: For the first few minutes the bean remains greenish, then turn lighter yellowish and emit a grassy smell. Steam: The beans start to steam as their internal water content dissipates.
First Crack: The steam becomes fragrant. Soon you will hear the first crack, an audible cracking sound as the real roasting starts to occur: sugars begin to caramelize, bound-up water escapes, the structure of the bean breaks down and oils migrate from their little pockets outward.
First Roasted Stage: After the first crack, the roast can be considered complete any time according to your taste. The cracking is an audible cue, and, along with sight and smell, tells you what stage the roast is at. This is what is called a City roast. [Where I have normally stopped roasting for the past several months.]
Caramelization: Caramelization continues, oils migrate, and the bean expands in size as the roast becomes dark. As the roast progresses, this is a City + roast. [I probably stop at this point too sometimes.] Most of our roast recommendations stop at this point. When you are on the verge of second crack, that is a Full City roast.
Second Crack: At this point a second crack can be heard, often more volatile than the first. The roast character starts to eclipse the origin character of the beans at this point and is also known as a Vienna roast. A few pops into second crack is a Full City + roast [I accidentally did this a few says ago, late May 2018. More than a few pops.] Roasting all the way through second crack may result in small pieces of bean being blown away like shrapnel!
Darkening Roast: As the roast becomes very dark, the smoke is more pungent as sugars burn completely, and the bean structure breaks down more and more. As the end of second crack approaches, you will achieve a French roast.
Ack!! Too Late!: Eventually, the sugars burn completely, and the roast will only result in a thin-bodied cup of "charcoal water."
On Sat, May 26, 2018, I roasted four batches of coffee. A batch contains slightly under 2/3 of a cup of beans.
- Brazil Dry Process Santa Luzia Bourbon
- City+ to Vienna
- "A profile constructed of roasted nut, cooked fruit, rustic sugar, and bittersweet cocoa notes. A great blend base. Good for espresso.
I roasted well past first crack and probably near and maybe into second crack. When I stopped, it seemed that some rapid fire cracking started at times.
After cooling, some beans sparkled with specs of oil that I assume indicates a longer roast.
For our press pot, I have been using 37 grams. In our burr grinder, I grind on the coarse setting, second notch from the right.
For a pour over, I have been using 23 grams. In our burr grinder, I grind on the fine setting, second notch from the left in the fine section. The pour overs seem strong. I should back off to 21 grams.
The French press pot brews have tasted amazing. If leftover exists, I pour it into a glass and place the glass in the fridge. It tastes fantastic the next morning.
This is one of the best coffees that I have consumed. It definitely tastes bolder because of the darker roast that I used, as required by the bean type, but it's not bitter. It's delicious, especially when the hot/warm coffee cools some. And we have experienced record heat over the past week. TOL recorded 98 degrees on Mon, May 28, 2018. At least four 90-degrees in the past week.
I have consumed the coffee straight or black with no desire to add anything, such as cocoa powder or Calder Dairy whipping cream.
The question: is it the bean or the roast? Probably both.
I enjoyed drinking coffee, brewed with the above bean: Brazil Dry Process Santa Luzia Bourbon, City+ to Vienna. This was one of my favorite beans/roasts.
I finished roasting a bag of these beans. Only one batch remained. And this was a delicious coffee.
- El Salvador Finca Matalapa Bourbon
- City+ to FC+
- Fresh caramel, almond, subtle bittering cocoa, complex notes of apple, pear, and mild citrus, good SO espresso.
Another leftover bag of coffee that I finished off in July 2018. Two batches of roasting were left. I roasted this a little darker than the one above, and this one also tasted fantastic. It's hard to tell if it's the bean or the roast or both. We've enjoyed several delicious bean types.
- El Salvador Honey Process Las Termopilas
- City+ to FC
- Delicious sweet/savory notes, almond rocha, panela sugar, roasted almond, faint raisin, black tea accents, honey glazed nuts, molasses toast.
It's time to order more beans. We have only one small bag of leftover beans.
Aug 20 update: After roasting the last of the regular coffee beans in early July, I have still not ordered new beans yet. A couple times, I stopped at Glass City Roasters, hoping to buy either their roasted Brazilian beans or buy the unroasted version to roast myself. The Brazilian beans used by GCR taste fantastic. I bought green beans from GCR last year. But on my recent visits, GCR did not have enough beans to spare. I've been buying roasted beans from the Phoenix Earth Food Co-op. We have not visited the farmers market much this summer on Saturdays in downtown Toledo. Been busy. Anyway, I'll order unroasted beans from Sweet Maria's this week.
While cleaning up my desk, I found this empty bag of beans that I kept around, probably to note that I enjoyed the coffee. I would have roasted these beans earlier this year.
- Nicaragua Buenos Aires Maracaturra Lot 1
- City to City+
- Balanced caramel, roasted almond core flavors, honey accents, chamomile florals, dried apple, apricot, cilantro, tea-like brightness.