Roast Your Own Coffee

If you have a hot air popcorn popper, you can roast your own coffee right at home!

I have an old Presto Poplite popper.  I bought my green coffee beans from Sweet Maria’s online, and followed their instructions for roasting the coffee.  There is a plethora of information online on how to roast your own coffee at home, and I gleaned from several sources. Pay attention to what poppers everyone recommends.  I have one that is not recommended, but after seeing that other people use it, I made the decision to try it and it’s working for me. (Update: a friend of mine just found a Wearever Popcorn Pumper for me at a thrift store, which is one of the recommended poppers! I can’t wait to try it out.)

Green coffee beansUse the popcorn measure to get the right amount of green coffee beans in the popper.

Shaking while roastingSince I don’t have the “right” popper, I compensate by holding the lid on, tilting the popper back (so the beans don’t fly out – they do bounce about) and swirling the popper to keep the beans circulating.  I’ve had no problems.   (This is where I can’t wait to try my “new” popper for this.)  I would not recommend roasting inside – mine is done outside because it does start to smoke near the end, as you’ll see.

Beans changing colorAfter a minute or so, the beans will begin to change color.  At this point chaff will start to fly out of the popper.  Continued swirling of the beans loosens this and helps it to get out of the beans.


I collected some of the chaff for a picture – usually I just let it fly into the grass.

Coffee beans just after first crackThe beans will continue to get darker and will get to the “first crack” stage.  This sounds like popcorn popping slowly.  They aren’t done yet!  That popping will pass, and the smoking will begin.

Roasted beans after second crackHere are the coffee beans right where we like them – just about 15 seconds into the “second crack” – this really sounds like rice crispies snapping and popping very quickly.  If you haven’t roasted coffee before, I suggest you stop here and don’t roast anymore.  I haven’t really timed it yet – but I think this is around 4 minutes since I turned on the popper.  It does not take long!  I did over-roast my first batch – it was more like espresso.  It was too dark for our preference, but I gave it to a friend at church who loves dark French coffee, and he thought it was fabulous!  Just make sure to listen for the cracks and watch the color of the beans.  All it takes is a little practice.

Cool in colanderRemember, the key is to stop roasting just before the beans get to where you like them, because they continue to roast for a bit even out of the popper.  Pour the beans into a stainless steel colander or strainer , then swirl it around to cool it quickly.  This will also loosen any remaining chaff.  When the sizzling slows, I take the beans inside and spread them on my stone counter – that cools them quickly.

Before and afterThe beans will nearly double in size, and get lighter in weight.  After the sizzling stops and they cool, the smell is incredible!

Store in bag

Here is the important part.  You can’t just roast the beans, grind them, and enjoy your coffee.  You have to let them “de-gas” by letting them sit for 18-24 hours or so (it can vary, apparently) to release carbon dioxide.  But you also want to keep them out of the air.  I reuse a coffee bag that had flavored coffee in it – see the little valve?  That allows the carbon dioxide to escape, but also keeps the coffee beans fresh.

There are a lot of blogs, websites, and such out there online that will tell you all about varieties of beans with complicated names (way more than just Arabica and Colombian), types of roasts (City+, Full City, Espresso), and lots of other technical stuff.  I bought a sample pack from Sweet Maria’s that contained four 1 lb. packs of green coffee beans – and from those we’ve found 2 varieties that we really like.  The taste of your own freshly roasted coffee is just incredible.  It has flavor, and hardly any bitterness – some varieties are almost “sweet”, enabling me to drink them black – and I usually put milk in my coffee.  It’s worth trying.

Now the only thing left to do (and so far we think it can be done) – is to try to sprout some of the beans and see if we can grow our own coffee – one of my husband’s dreams!

I don’t just roast coffee.  I also write about frugal tips, ideas that work for me, as well as lots of silly things and humorous moments that happen around here.

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