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What’s in Your Cup?

February 22, 2013

By Sheri Johnson

About a month ago I decided that I had had my last half cup of bitter coffee so I decided to check out how to roast my own, personally selected coffee beans. First I watched about 50 YouTube videos and decided there must be 50 right ways to roast some beans and since they all said the coffee was great, they must all work pretty well. So here goes…

To have great coffee you need some pretty fair green coffee beans. Of course I wanted organic and fair trade would be good too. There are a few online vendors for beans, but I chose Deans Beans and they have proven to be a great choice. I chose beans that were both green and fair trade. I like the idea that whoever raised the beans got a fair shake on the trade. For just $5.25 a pound I purchased 3 great varieties to roast: Timor, a spice, slightly acidic bean that holds up to a serious scorch, Nicaraguan, a large bean with a smooth, full taste and Robusta, a powerful bean to add to your dark roast requests.

You will need a nice pot for roasting, I use a lightweight cast iron deep dish pan, not too big though unless you are the Incredible Hulk but any pan with high sides will do, a wooden spoon, a thermometer, a colander, a timer and a few index cards. You will want to record your roasting process on the cards so you can compare and improve your roasting recipes. Place your roasting pan on a medium high burner, cover and use your cooking thermometer to confirm an interior temp of around 350 degrees F. When your pan reaches 350 degrees, pour in ¾ cup of green beans and cover. Begin moving the pan back and forth to keep beans moving while roasting (that is why you don’t want a monster pan to move about). The beans will begin to change color within the first few seconds – turning from green to golden to brown and in my recipe deep brown. After about 90 seconds you will notice chafe begin to separate from your beans. No worries you can blow that away when you finish roasting.

Record and Time

At around 4 minutes you will hear a very distinctive cracking noise, this is called first crack and it signals the first stage of roasting has begun. You can stop right now and have a light roast coffee.

First Crack

Next at around 7 minutes you will hear light crackle, this is second crack and you can stop roasting here and have a medium roast coffee. There will be some smoking from the pot – it is a heavenly coffee smell and therefore I cannot stop roasting just yet.

Beans changing color

When the beans begin to shine with lovely oils you have reached the final roasting stage – dark roast and now you need to remove the beans immediately from heat, transfer to a colander and place in a cool area to allow beans to cool. Roasting the beans too long is called “cooking the beans” and will result in a poorly flavored coffee. Your kitchen will smell better than Starbucks at this point.

A little smoke..

Before and After

Before and After

Once the beans have cooled I store mine in a glass jar with a loosely applied lid. The beans need to “gas off” for a couple of days to allow the flavor to develop fully. You can grind and make the freshest pot of coffee ever right away, but the flavor will change after a couple days. The beans will stay quite fresh and ready for grinding for about 2 weeks.

Ready to Grind

I would advise watching a few of those videos, just to get the technique down, but don’t be afraid to try this DIY project. Once you have the first cup of YOUR fresh roasted coffee you will never want coffee in a can again!

The Taste Test

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