Home roasting coffee
Home roasting is the process of roasting coffee from green coffee beans on a small scale for personal consumption. Home roasting of coffee has been practised for centuries, and has utilised simple methods such as roasting in cast iron skillets over a wood fire and hand-turning small steel drums on a kitchen stove-top.
Until the early 20th century it was more common to roast coffee at home than to buy pre-roasted coffee. Following World War I commercial coffee roasting became prevalent and, combined with the distribution of instant coffee, home roasting decreased substantially.
In recent years there has been a revival in home roasting; what was originally a necessity has now become a hobby. The attractions are four-fold: enjoying fresh, flavourful coffee; experimenting with various beans and roasting methods; perfecting the roasting process; and saving money.
Enjoying coffee made from freshly roasted beans is one of the major driving factors in the popularity of home roasting. Home roasting has the advantage of being able to roast smaller volumes of coffee to match consumption so that the roasted coffee is used before it goes stale. Depending on the bean's origin and the method of storage after roasting, whole bean coffee flavor becomes stale about seven days after roasting. The flavor of ground coffee deteriorates even faster. Methods of extending freshness include refrigeration, freezing, vacuum packaging, and displacing oxygen in the container with an inert gas. Green coffee beans can be kept fresh for 1–3 years, depending upon storage conditions, and more particular home roasters reduce storage time to 8 or even 1.5 months.
Home roasters have access to a wide selection of green coffee beans, and this is one of the attractions to the hobby. Home roasters can purchase small quantities of high quality beans from numerous importers and distributors. Some of the beans are rare or award winning, while others are from coffee orchards known for their quality and unique flavor. It is common for home roasters to purchase beans that come from a specific country, region, and orchard, and harvest year.
Those who are roasting for economic reasons can purchase green beans in bulk at lower cost than roasted beans from retailers. Depending on the type of beans chosen, home roasters can save from 25–50%.
The four basic color categories of roasts are light, medium, medium-dark and dark.
Home roasters can choose from various types of roasting equipment, each of which has certain attributes that can alter the flavor. A roasting profile describes the time the beans spend at each temperature during roasting including the final temperature prior to cooling. This greatly affects the flavor, aroma, and body of the coffee. Home roasters go to great lengths to control these roasting parameters including using computers or programmable controllers for process control and data logging. Manually controlled equipment makes precise and repeatable profile control more difficult, though an experienced roaster can produce very good results. One of the lures of the hobby is experimenting with the roasting profile to produce optimal tasting coffee, albeit subjective.
Coffee roasting produces chaff and smoke, and should be done in a well-ventilated area, which is often difficult to accomplish in a home environment. Coffee roasting outdoors is affected by changes in air temperature and wind speed, requiring more frequent adjustments to the roasting process to produce repeatable results.
A simple technique for roasting green coffee beans is to stir them in a skillet or wok over high heat. Coffee can be roasted in the oven provided that they are put only one bean deep in a perforated baking tray. These methods produce coffee beans with a variety of roast levels as it is almost impossible to achieve a consistent roast merely by stirring, however, some people like the resultant melange roast.
This lack of control on stove top roasting has led some home roasters to innovative adaptation of equipment intended for other purposes and fabricating custom equipment. Heat guns (normally used for stripping paint) aimed into metal bowls, home-made steel drums suspended and rotated over outdoor gas grill burners, and modified hot-air popcorn poppers are examples of coffee roasters made from readily available parts. Heat guns and modified hot-air popcorn poppers are the least expensive home roasting equipment. Home bread-making appliances can be modified to roast coffee, too.
There are an increasing number of consumer coffee roasters. These counter-top appliances automate the roasting process and avoid the hazards of using equipment not designed for high temperature operation. The main drawbacks with many of these devices are their small 75-to-300-gram (2.6 to 11 oz) capacity, limited roasting control, and often slow cooling abilities.
Some home roasters design and build roasting equipment from scratch making full-sized sample roasters, diminutive commercial-style coffee roasters, or inventing new roasting machines. They typically use off-the-shelf materials, found objects, and simpler construction methods. Such machines typically have greater capacity or roasting control than home roasting appliances.
- Pendergrast, Mark (2000) Uncommon Grounds
- Davids, Kenneth. Home Coffee Roasting: Romance and Revival. St. Martin's Griffin; revised edition, November 2003. ISBN 978-0-312-31219-0. pp. 3-8.
- AllExperts Fresh Coffee
- H.-D. Belitz, Werner Grosch, Peter Schieberle (2009). Food Chemistry (4 ed.). Springer. p. 939. ISBN 3540699333.
- Neuschwander, Hanna (2012). Left Coast Roast: A Guide to the Best Coffee and Roasters from San Francisco to Seattle. Timber Press. p. 52. ISBN 1604692847. "If it's stored properly, green coffee is generally okay for about eight months."
- Sinnott, Keving (2010). The Art and Craft of Coffee: An Enthusiast's Guide to Selecting, Roasting, and Brewing Exquisite Coffee. Quarry Books. p. 40. ISBN 1592535631. "Once you purchase green beans, you have a second roughly six-week window to roast them at their peak."
- Davids, 2003, p. 7.
- Davids, 2003
- Davids, 2003, pp. 135-140.
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