Brewing coffee is a delicate art. It requires the right equipment, the right grind, and the perfect dose of finely ground beans. But there’s one more thing you need to get it just right: fresh-roasted whole beans.
Freshly roasted coffee has an incomparable flavor that can’t be replicated with pre-ground or canned versions.
And roasting your own ensures that you’ll always have the freshest possible cup of joe on hand for whenever your heart desires it! So how do you roast your own? That’s what we’re here to show you in this post!
1. What is the difference between fresh-roasted coffee and pre-ground or canned coffee:
The main difference between fresh-roasted coffee and pre-ground or canned coffee is that the roasted beans haven’t had time to stale, allowing you to enjoy all its rich flavors immediately!
Coffee stales within one week of grinding. Once it’s ground, oxygen hits the beans and breaks down the flavorful oils (that’s what gives coffee that delicious taste). Ground coffee also loses flavor quickly.
You can get a few days out of it before the rich and bold taste disappears and is replaced with bitter flavors. Nothing will ruin a perfectly good morning like bitter, stale coffee!
2. Why should you roast your own beans instead of buying them pre-ground:
Roasting is the final step in coffee-making. The whole process can take anywhere from six to 20 minutes, depending on the size of the batch.
During that time, the beans are being cooked at temperatures ranging between 400°F and 500°F. At these high temperatures, chemical reactions occur that alter coffee’s inherent flavor into something uniquely delicious.
The roasting process brings out coffee’s oils and fats. These oils give coffee its rich flavor and aroma, which is why it tastes so much better than the pre-ground stuff you get in cans at the grocery store.
Pre-ground beans also sit around for a while before they’re sold to consumers and that takes away some of the freshness that gives it its delicious flavor.
3. Tools needed for roasting:
- A large mixing bowl or pot and a lid if you’re using the “stovetop” method of roasting.
- Salt and oil shaker to clean off your stove top.
- Metal spatula, spoon, scraper for stirring beans while they roast.
- Mesh strainer for cleaning beans.
- Oven mitts or something to protect your hands while you stir the beans.
4. Steps to follow when roasting beans:
- Collect ingredients.
- Preheat oven to 350°F or select stovetop method.
- Prepare mixing bowl or pot with lid for stovetop method. Be sure the metal is able to take high heat and will not deform when it gets extremely hot (plastic may melt).
- Measure out amount of green coffee beans you want to roast.
- Extend oven mitts to protect hands from heat or use a spatula or spoon for stirring beans while roasting.
- Measure out amount of oil and salt you will want to apply after the beans have been roasted.
- Spread beans on flat surface in an even layer so that they are not overlapping.
- Transfer beans into pot or skillet carefully.
- Cover pot/skillet with lid if using stovetop method of roasting.
- Begin heating up your pan on high heat.
- Listen for the sound of the beans popping (kind of like popcorn but not nearly as loud).
- Take a peek at your beans every minute or two after the popping slows down and stir with a spoon if necessary.
- When beans are visually shrunken and arched just slightly when in the pan, dump into bowl quickly so that they do not burn on the bottom of your pan.
- Take deep breath and enjoy!
5. How to roast your own beans:
There are two ways to roast your own beans: in a hot-air popcorn popper or on the stovetop using a skillet. We prefer the latter method because it is more accurate and easier to control than an air popper. Plus, green coffee beans are cheap, so if you ruin them you won’t be out much money!
Here’s what you’ll need:
Green coffee beans (they’re cheaper online then at the grocery store – about $3 per pound!)
First, you’ll need to find a good spot to roast your beans. It should be outdoors in an open area with plenty of fresh, cool air. If it’s too hot outside you’ll lose a lot of the energy you put into roasting, so avoid it if possible. We typically roast our beans outside on the grill or over a fire pit.
What you’re looking for is somewhere that will allow you to have some control over the roasting process. You’ll need to monitor your beans as they roast and you want to be able to do that without having to stand right by the hot stove or grill for 20 minutes.
Next, you’re going to need a flat surface on which you can spread out your green coffee beans and then transfer them into the pot or popper. If you’re using a skillet, then you’ll want to use something that won’t deform when it gets very hot (like metal or ceramic bowls).
Now get ready for some fun! This is the part of the process where things start to happen pretty quickly so keep an eye on your beans! We typically roast about 1/4 pound of beans at a time, so we use a small sauce pan.
Step 1: Heat your pot or skillet to about 400°F and add in about half of your green coffee beans (or less if you’re using an air popper). This is where the fun begins! The popping sound will start slowly and then really pick up. Cover your pot or skillet so the beans don’t escape and try not to leave them unattended for a few minutes.
Step 2: Take a peek at your beans every minute or so after the popping slows down, stirring with a spoon if necessary. The beans will turn from bright green to dull green when they’re almost done. They should be visibly shrunken and if you want to get technical about it your beans should have arched just slightly when they were in the pan.
Step 3: When the popping completely stops, dump the beans into a metal or ceramic bowl quickly so that they don’t burn on the bottom of your pan.
Step 4: Take a deep breath and enjoy! Your beans should be just about perfect at this point. Put them in an airtight container and leave them out on your counter for a day or two to “de-gas” or remove any extra carbon dioxide that’s still inside the bean.
If you mess up, don’t worry. Roasted green coffee beans will last a few weeks in the fridge and they also freeze pretty well. If you freeze them, make sure to take them out of the freezer at least 24 hours before you want to use them so they can return to room temperature.
6. Tips on how to get the best flavor from your roasted beans:
– Coffee tastes best when it’s used within a week, so make only what you think you’ll use in that time period.
– Grind your beans just before brewing. The coffee will taste better and the oils in the bean won’t go rancid as quickly.
– Store your ground coffee in the refrigerator if you’re not going to use it right away to keep it fresh for as long as possible.
– Try not to use an air popper if you want good beans! Hot air poppers don’t agitate the beans like stove top methods, which means they roast more evenly and can lead to better results.
– Keep your beans out of direct sunlight. The ultraviolet radiation in sunlight will break down the organic compounds in your beans, which means less tasty coffee for you.
– Invest in a good grinder to get the best flavor from your beans! Blade grinders chop up your coffee and don’t give it enough time to extract properly while burr grinders cause less mess and give better control over the end result.
– Try not to use the same coffee beans for more than 3 months or you’ll notice a decrease in quality!
7) Other ways to use roasted beans (i.e., in baking, cooking, etc.)
– If you want your baked goods to taste like coffee, then you should use more coffee than the recipe calls for.
– You can make flour out of leftover grinds and use that instead if regular flour in recipes like pancakes or waffles.
– Add some cinnamon and vanilla extract to your wet ingredients when cooking with ground coffee beans for a little extra flavor.
– Add a small amount of salt to balance out the bitterness of coffee.
– You can substitute brewed coffee for water in any recipe if you want your dish to have a stronger coffee flavor… but beware, it’s pretty powerful!
– Density: Similar to the weight of water.
– Percolation: The process that happens in a machine when it makes coffee – hot water goes through the grounds and then through a metal tube (or other path) until it’s ready to pour out.
– First Pressing: Coffee grounds are oily, like fresh herbs or spices, and they can be pressed more than once. The first pressing is the strongest tasting.
– Stale Coffee: When coffee beans are roasted that moisture escapes which changes the structure of the bean. That’s why coffee doesn’t taste as good after it’s been roasted! You should try to use your beans within a week after they’re roasted.
– Bitterness: The chemical compound trigonelline is a precursor to caffeine, so as it’s being burned away, the coffee will become more bitter. In order to reduce bitterness, use less coffee and have it fresh!
What can I say? Roasted beans and the coffee they make is a perfect drink for cold days like these or lazy, cozy afternoons.
You’ll taste the difference between lighter roasts and darker ones really well when you’re making them yourself. To answer my own question: yes, it takes more time than one might think, and no, it’s not nearly as complicated as you might think either. Give it a try! It’s worth it.