Roasting Coffee Beans at Home

Brief, instructions only

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.

Sweet Maria's

Our first batch of coffees

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.

El Salvador Finca Matalapa Bourbon

Panama Organic Duncan Estate

Guatemala Huehuetenango Baudilio Castillo Micro-Lot

Sep 16, 2013 roasting


Brewing Coffee

September 2013

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.

Coffee variables:

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.

French Press Pot

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.

October 2017

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.

November 2017

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.

Roasting levels

Burr Grinders

These two seem like good, affordable choices for first-time burr grinder owners.

The reviewers choose Baratza Virtuoso.

December 2017

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.

Spring 2018

I have enjoyed this bean:

Other beans that we roasted in the late winter and spring include:

April 2018

Here's another tasty coffee bean that I roasted in April 2018.

May 2018

Discarding empty green coffee bean bags that contained beans that I roasted in the past.

May 26, 2018

I'm going to roast a new bag of beans today.

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."

Fri, Jun 1, 2018

On Sat, May 26, 2018, I roasted four batches of coffee. A batch contains slightly under 2/3 of a cup of beans.

I roasted:

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.

July 2018

I finished roasting a bag of these beans. Only one batch remained. And this was a delicious coffee.

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.

It's time to order more beans. We have only one small bag of leftover beans.

August 2018

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

October 2018

On Sun, Oct 14, Deb ordered more coffee. We ordered a five pound bag of green coffee beans from this farmer.

This coffee comes from the Campos Altos region, and is a farm near Fazenda Santa Lucia, a coffee we've offered the past few years now. The Bourbon and Catuai lots from Fazenda Santa Luzia have become somewhat of a quality benchmark for our Brazil roster, consistently producing some of the better Brazil coffees we buy. This year we asked Ronaldo, one of the Santa Luzia's business managers to collect samples from some of the neighboring farms to see if we might find some similar qualities in the viscinity. We wound up selecting coffee from three neighboring farms, including this lot from Luiz Claudio. His farm is within earshotof Santa Luzia, also topping out right around 1200 meters above sea level, and planted in several different varietals. This is a dry processed, all red Bourbon separation from Claudio's farm.

This coffee produced the sweetest cup right around City+, shifting more toward bittersweet at Full City. The latter was still sweet in the context of Brazilian coffee, but it doesn't take much development beyond City+ to really bring out layers of bittering cacao flavors in the cup profile. City+ has an interesting mix of smells, sweetened oatmeal, baking cocoa, and a whiff of savory miso paste. The cup has soft fruit tones, roasted nutty qualities, and a rustic tobacco flavor in the finish. There's a slight leather-like sweetness that reminds me of Yemeni coffee, and if we didn't already have Yemeni coffee on the water, I'd consider this as an alternative in our Moka Kadir blend. Full City really pushed bittering cocoa flavors to the front, and a licorice note accents a smokey finish.

The Brazilian coffee beans that I raved about above from the summer were from this farmer.

Fazenda Santa Lucia is located in the growing-region of Campos Altos, the town itself sitting at 1000 meters, much higher than what is average altitude from much of the Cerrado region. This particular farm topping out right around 1200, and is planted in several different varietals, this particular lot being Red Bourbon. Much of the coffee is still manually picked, as part of the farm is situated on a slope, a grade that does not allow for mechanical harvesting. The farm is well-managed, with new milling facilities onsite and the infrastructure to process and store large and smaller lot separations. This particular coffee is naturally processed, meaning the whole cherry is picked from the tree and then laid out to dry for roughly 30 days, after which the dried cherry and parchment layer are mechanically removed. This type of processing tends to impart some fruited flavor on the seed, as well as mute acidity, and produce big body. Roasting can be a little tricky, because there is usually much more chaff produced. Yes, chaff is messy, but more so, it is dark in color, and if still connected to the bean can give the impression that a coffee is darker than it actually is.

From City+ to Full City, this Brazil packs a hefty sweetness of rustic dark sugar notes that balance out bittersweet cocoa tones nicely. The dry fragrance has a bittersweet smell of butter toffee and dark cocoa. The wet grounds give off a whiff "Almond Roca" candies and raisin, a particular sweet spot in the aromatic profile. As a brewed coffee, expect a culmination of dried fruit and unrefined sugar up front, with bittersweet cocoa flavors in the back end. City+ is my recommended starting point, but I think Full City roasts are where the most balance is achieved between developed raw sugar sweetness, rustic dried fruit accents, and lingering cocoa powder flavors. I was taken a back by the sweet and fruited accents in the cup of my Full City roast, natural slab apricot, caramelizing sugars, and a chocolate/hazelnut flavor. This makes a nice single-origin espresso too (or for espresso blend base), with distilled chocolate bittersweetness, subtle prune note, and creamy nut. Best with 48 hours rest.

Both farms reside in the same region of Brazil: Campos Altos. - horribly bloated and slow website.

Farm Gate definition:

Farm Gate Coffee is the name we give to our direct trade coffee buying program. Farm Gate pricing means that we have negotiated a price directly with the farmer "at the farm gate," that is, without any of the confusing export and import fees. The prices we pay for our coffees are above Fair Trade minimums, and with our Farm Gate coffees we can easily verify that the good price we pay makes it to the people who do the work, and are responsible for the great cup quality of our coffee. Farm Gate is a simple principle that allows coffee producers to make premium prices in reward for coffee quality, and to reinvest to improve quality even more in the future.

We guarantee that Farm Gate prices are 50% over Fair Trade (FT) pricing, but often they are 100%+ more that FT minimums. We support FT, and continue to offer FT lots. Fair Trade is a co-op certification - that is, it does not allow certification for small independent farms - it is for co-ops only. We do support coffee co-ops, but they are often not what consumers might think. There are many excellent co-ops, and many that are large, powerful, corrupt, and mired in bureaucracy. We avoid the bureaucracy of coops that sometimes do not share premium prices with their farmer members. Fair Trade certifies that the co-operative received the FT price, but it does not guarantee that the men and women who produce your coffee were paid the FT price. Fair Trade is also not based on the quality of the product, so in many ways it has a commodity mindset at its core, that coffee is coffee, just like corn is corn.

On the flip side, bear in mind that FT is a global standard, is verified by certifiers that make regular (if infrequent) visits to the coops. We don't have a third-party certifier. Instead we substitute our direct involvement at ground level in the buying process with farms, and we know what they received if we are paying them through a middle-person. In this scheme, exporters and importers have a changing role, offering a service as logistics coordinators (and an important one at that) rather than coffee resellers. Any coffee bought off an importer/broker list does not qualify for Farm Gate, and we do still buy some coffees that way because they are good quality. Further, lots from origins where hundreds of tiny farms contribute to even the smallest importable lots, such as Sumatra, or Yemen, can't qualify for Farm Gate in many cases nor can Auction Lot Kenyas, even though we pay extremely high prices for all these coffees, and know from direct observation that a premium reaches the farmer.