When I think back to the chemistry experiments I did in school, I pretty much only had one goal in mind: blowing stuff up. Process and nuance may have evaded me, but the result was always spectacular.
In a crude way, coffee roasting has its parallels. There are endless variables to evaluate and tweak to roast the perfect coffee, but at the end of the day, all you need is a few rudimentary tools and you’re on your way to…well…something spectacular.
If you’ve been on the fence about roasting coffee at home, there are three things you should know:
It’s Better, it’s super Easy and it’s surprisingly Inexpensive
If you roast coffee at home, you’re almost certainly going to be drinking better coffee. Even as a roasting novice, you can confidently dominate three out of the four key variables (ingredients, freshness and brewing and roasting). A) It’s easy to find quality green coffee beans (ahem); B) freshness of home roasting is unmatched, just like bread from the oven; C) brewing is simple and a matter of personal preference; and, D) while roasting can take years to perfect, you’ll be amazed at what you’ll likely achieve with your very first batch.
To suggest coffee roasting is “easy” may sound a little glib. We’ve been roasting for many years and we’re still learning this dance of art and science. What we mean by this is that it is easy to start roasting. And the easiest way to start roasting is harnessing hot air. The simplest home coffee roasters are built from the same principles as popcorn air-poppers that blow hot air into a small batch of coffee to roast it. Yes, as easy as it sounds.
There are two costs to consider: coffee beans and the equipment.
Coffee Beans. The average price for a pound of roasted specialty coffee from the fancy place across town can often set you back a startling sum—much less so if you’re shopping at the supermarket. Whichever quality level you’re accustomed to, you can get close to mirroring those results at home for much, much less. You can often track down the exact coffees your favorite place is roasting. When you discover how much less those beans are, it won’t take you long to appreciate how much you’re paying for their skilled roasting AND their name on your bag.
Equipment. If your budget is unrestrained and you want to geek out, you can spend several thousand dollars for a roasting setup that will duplicate a commercial setup in miniature. For the rest of us, you can purchase a hot air coffee roaster like noted above (or a small drum-style unit) for 250 – 500 bucks. OR…you can explore this new foray into home roasting with a home popcorn popper for around 20 dollars. While a popcorn popper is not designed for roasting coffee, they’ve been used for years by home roasting enthusiasts and there are a couple specific designs that are most conducive for this. For convenience, we include one of the more popular models in our starter kit.
Time is money. And money is also money. Roasting in a popcorn popper is surprisingly easy and surprisingly fast. In our experience, a batch in the popper takes around three or four minutes. Rinse and repeat four times and you have enough coffee for you and your partner for a week. And this coffee is guaranteed to be fresher than anything you can buy, tastier than most, way cheaper and, most importantly, roasted by YOU!
And the truth is… it’s fun! Roasting coffee is fun. It’s easy to get started, it’s exciting, and once you roast and brew a few cups and are sipping on tasty results you’ll likely be hooked. And that’s where this journey really begins.
Check out the roasting bundles we offer.