Roasting Coffee

  1. Setup outside.

  2. Get a stopwatch, a colander, an oven mitten, and a wooden spoon.

  3. Measure 2/3 cup of green coffee beans.

  4. Plug air popcorn popper into outlet or extension cord.

  5. Add the 2/3 cup of beans.

  6. Start the timer.

  7. Cover your stirring hand with the oven mitt.

  8. Hold the spoon by the shovel end and stick the handle end into the beans and start stirring vigorously and stir fast until finished roasting.

  9. Use the timer as a guide. Timings will vary, based upon the type of popper used, the outside air temperature, the type of bean, and the type of roast desired. After about 40 to 50 seconds, the papery outer husks fly up in a large quantity. Some husks will start flying up a little earlier.

  10. At around the 2:40 to 2:50 mark, rapid cracking begins. This is first crack. Some cracking might start earlier like one crack occasionally. But multiple cracking starts around 2:40.

  11. First crack continues for about a minute. When it starts to slow down, you can consider stopping. Watch your bean color change from olive green to light brown to a warm brown and to a cool, dark brown. Stop when you like the color.

  12. For the first batch of a City to City+ roast, I stop by 3:45. For the second batch, maybe because the popper is still warm, the start timings for the husks flying off and for first crack begin about 15 to 30 seconds sooner. That's why I use a timer as a guide. Listening to the beans and watching the beans change color are more important than the timings. For the second batch, I stop between 3:15 and 3:30. For the first or second batch, some beans will still be cracking during first crack when you stop. Waiting for first crack to end completely will make for a darker roast. For FC to FC+ roasts, I roast at least 15 to 30 seconds longer for each batch. Of course, roasting until and through second crack creates the French roast or dark roast. Cold weather update: When outdoor temps are in the 30s or colder, timings are about 40 seconds longer. I stop roasting around the 4:30 mark. In February 2018, I roasted when the air temp was 11 degrees, and for the first batch, I stopped roasting at 5 minutes and 45 seconds, and for second batch, I ended around 5 minutes and 20 seconds.

  13. When the end time is near, unplug the popper and dump beans into colander.

  14. Cool off the beans by shaking them in colander and use your hand that is covered by the oven mitt to stir the beans too.

  15. When beans are cool enough to grab with a bare hand, then spread beans onto a plate to rest overnight.

My roasting notes for bean types

These are probably my two favorite roast types.

City+ to FC+ : I roast a little beyond first crack. When first crack ends or when it gets quiet. I wait another 10 to 15 seconds to ensure no more cracking, and if it remains quiet, then I stop roasting.

City+ to Vienna : I roast well past first crack and probably near or maybe into second crack. Sometimes after I stop roasting, some rapid fire cracking occurs, which is probably second crack beginning. The beans are noticeably darker. After cooling, some beans sparkled with specs of oil that I assume indicates a longer roast. It's not a French roast.

City and City+ roasted beans are good, but they might be too light-tasting for me. In the future, I might only buy beans that contain FC, FC+, or Vienna and roast near or at the start of second crack.

Grinding and brewing

When using the burr grinder, I grind on a coarse setting for a French press pot brew, and I grind on a fine setting for a pourover brew.

For our large French press pot, I measure 37 to 40 grams of ground coffee. For a pourover, I use 21 to 25 grams. The difference depends upon whether it's a lighter roast or a darker roast and personal prefs, regarding the "strength" of the coffee taste.

If the coffee tastes "thin" or too watery, then I use the higher amounts the next time that I grind and brew with the same bean.

We drink coffee plain or straight or black. We like strong coffee that is not bitter, and it is possible achieve those results when matching the roast type to the bean type and grinding appropriately for the brewing method.

On our temperature controlled electric kettle, I warm the water to 194 degrees for both brewing methods. We don't like scolding hot coffee.

Favorite bean thus far

This is one of the best coffees that I roasted, brewed, and consumed:

It definitely tasted bolder because of the darker roast that I used, as required by the bean type, but it was not bitter. It was delicious, especially when the warm coffee cooled some.

More roasting info

These details came from Sweet Maria's website: How to roast coffee. I added my notes within brackets.

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. [In 2017 and 2018, I stopped at this point for most of my roasting per the bean type.]

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 like this roast a lot.] Roasting all the way through second crack may result in small pieces of bean being blown away like shrapnel! [Ending when second crack begins is okay if the bean type calls for this roast type.]

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. [I tried this once, and I didn't like it. The coffee tasted burnt.]

Ack!! Too Late!: Eventually, the sugars burn completely, and the roast will only result in a thin-bodied cup of "charcoal water."

More good info at Sweet Maria's:

Use All Five Senses To Determine Degree Of Roast

More of my coffee notes, although some info at this link exists above.