Home Coffee Roasting with an Air Popper
Home roasting is a fun and interesting way to guarantee you have the freshest coffee available. There are a few do-it-yourself approaches, but one of the easiest methods requires little more than an air popcorn popper. Despite relatively small roast batches of approximately four ounces, this method yields consistently even roasts.
To get started you’ll need green coffee beans, an air popper, a colander and a Mason jar (although a sealable plastic sandwich bag will suffice). Green coffee beans are difficult to find locally, but are easy to track down on the Internet. I highly recommend SweetMarias.com, but there are many other options, for example Roastmasters.com and BurmanCoffee.com. Wherever you source your beans, I suggest getting one pound each of at least a few varieties. Not only will this give you experience roasting different beans, but it also means variety in what you brew and drink.
Before you’re ready to roast, read the manufacturer’s instructions to determine your popper’s capacity; the recommended capacity of popcorn equally applies to the green coffee beans. Using much less or more than that means you’ll get an uneven roast, leading to poor-tasting coffee. And because the roasting process produces some smoke, I recommend setting up in your garage or outdoors.
Pour your measured beans into the popper and turn it on, leaving the lid attachment off for now. You may need to shake it periodically for the first minute or so to ensure the beans rotate as they should. Look inside the popper about every minute to observe your beans changing color, from green to yellow to cinnamon stages. As the beans roast, they will begin to shed some of their mucilage, at which point it’s fine to put the lid on your popper so the discarded chaff won’t fly out.
The beans will darken progressively during the roast and eventually reach what is called “first crack” (the popping sound is like a quieter version of popping popcorn). When the cracking sound subsides and the vented chaff has slowed or stopped, it’s time to turn off your popper, remove the lid and pour the roasted, hot beans into your colander. Shake the beans around in the colander for 30–60 seconds to cool. Pour the beans onto a plate until they’ve cooled completely then transfer them to a Mason jar.
Congratulations, you’ve just roasted coffee all by yourself!
Roasted beans emit carbon dioxide for roughly 24 hours after roasting, so for the first 12–24 hours do not fully tighten the lid so CO2 can escape. Oxygen is the biggest enemy of roasted coffee, so be sure to keep the jar sealed after the initial resting period. The only thing left to do is grind, brew and enjoy your coffee.
Liberation Roasting Company is open to the public on Saturdays from 11am to 3pm. Stop in to discuss roasting, taste samples, buy fresh roasted coffee or just chat with our laid-back crew. Visit LiberationRoasting.com if you’d like to contact us or make an appointment to visit on a different day.