Are you a stickler for a fresh, hot cup of coffee? Are you thinking of getting the freshest coffee you can possibly have by buying green coffee beans and roasting them at home? It's easier than you think to roast your own java beans; all you need is some time, a little patience, and the 3 things below.
A Sturdy Wok
A 14-gauge carbon steel wok is ideal for the beginning coffee bean roaster. While inexpensive, these woks are sturdy enough to heat up quickly and retain even temperatures. You want a wok with a wide bottom, but not so wide that heat is able to rapidly escape the cooking surface. Shoot for a bottom width of 4-5 inches and a top width of 12-14 inches.
A Metal Colander
Once you're done roasting your beans, you're going to need to cool them quickly. Look for a large metal colander with plenty of holes in its base. The beans should be tossed about as they cool so air can circulate around them, so the deeper the colander you can find, the less apt you are to spill the beans and make a mess.
A Window Fan
As you roast your beans, their papery, thin hulls will come off and burn up in the wok. This process produces a lot of smoke. If you have a window in your kitchen, you'll want to open it and place a fan in it so that some of the smoke is blown outside. If you don't have a window in your kitchen, make sure your stove's exhaust fan is cranked to high and keep your bean batches small to limit the amount of smoke produced. Also, only roast your beans to light or medium -- the darker the roast, the more smoke the process will produce.
Now that you have your equipment, it's time to get roasting. To begin, get your wok good and hot on the stove. Coffee beans should be roasted at temperatures ranging from 460 - 530 degrees Fahrenheit, so use the hottest heat setting your stove has. Next, toss your green coffee beans in the wok and shake continuously.
How Many Beans? If you've secured a wok with the dimensions mentioned above and you have a window and fan in your kitchen, you should be safe tossing in about 2 cups of beans. If your wok is smaller, however, or if you only have your stove's exhaust fan for ventilation, stick with 1 cup at a time until you see how much smoke is produced and whether or not your kitchen can handle it.
How Long Should You Roast Them? The length of time you roast your beans depends on the temperature of your flame and your taste preference. Your beans will remain green for a few minutes before turning yellow and emitting a grassy odor. Soon after this, you'll hear an audible crack as the beans begin to caramelize and dry out. Once you hear this crack, you've successfully created light-roast beans that are ready for cooling. You can continue to roast the beans longer if you like a darker blend, but if you hear a second audible crack, stop. The second crack is a signal that the beans are nearing overdone. While seasoned coffee bean roasters may continue beyond this point, it's best for beginners to stay within the crack zones.
Once your beans are done roasting, immediately dump them into your metal colander and toss with fury until they reach room temperature. Ideally, you want to cool your beans off within 4 minutes of removing them from the heat. If you have a water-misting bottle kicking around, misting them lightly with cool water should help with this process, but stop misting when the water droplets stop evaporating almost immediately. When your beans are done cooling, go ahead and brew your super-fresh cup of joe. Store leftover beans in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
It's easier than you think to get the freshest coffee possible by roasting your own beans at home. All you have to do is stop by a housewares store, such as Koontz Hardware, for the right equipment and then follow the process detailed above.