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A New Hobby: Roasting Coffee

November 1st, 2011

I’ve talked about our love of coffee several times before. Mr Chiots and I are coffee aficionados; we drink coffee like other people drink wine, talking about the depth of flavor, the crema on the espresso right after brewing, and on and on. We were super happy to find a local source for the most wonderful micro-roasted coffee, but sadly Al quit roasting to sell and we were left sans good fresh micro-roasted coffee beans. Rather than settle for mediocre, we decided to take our normal path and simply start doing it ourselves.

We spent some time researching beans sources and coffee roasters then we took the plunge. There are many people that roast their coffee in an air popcorn popper. Since we’re espresso drinkers and like a dark roast, that wasn’t an option for us. We needed a drum roaster.

After doing much research we found CafeCoffees which is a guy who builds them on a small scale. What we really like about this roaster is that he makes them repairable with parts from the local home improvement store. Whenever possible we like to buy appliances sans electronic controls and made to be repaired. They’re usually more expensive initially but end up being much cheaper over the long term. As small business owners, we also appreciate supporting a small business. The 3 pound roasting capacity of the roaster we purchased was an added benefit since it will save time and money over roasting in smaller batches.

We ordered a collection of espresso beans from Sweet Maria’s, some single origin and some blends. Then we waiting for our roaster to arrive, eagerly anticipating the wonders of home roasted coffee. Our beans arrived about a week before our roaster. To fill in the gap, we had to buy beans from another small local roaster to get us through. Needless to say, our decision to roast at home was backed up by the flat flavor to of that coffee.

Our roaster arrived last Saturday; we set it up and roasted two pounds of coffee on Sunday afternoon. We were happy with the roaster that we chose and were also pleasantly surprised by our roasting results (especially since it was our first batch). Technically you’re supposed wait 2-3 days after roasting for the espresso to “bloom” fully, but we couldn’t wait. We brewed some on Monday morning.

You may think roasting your own coffee at home is difficult and you need special equipment – but it’s not and you don’t. There are some people that simply use an air popcorn popper and some that even do it in a cast iron skillet (which I may try someday when we want some coffee to brew in our Chemex). Basically you put your green coffee beans in your roaster and roast until desired doneness, we like a darker roast so we wait until they start the second crack (sounds like popcorn popping). Then you cool as rapidly as possible and you’re done. We were actually amazed by how easy it was!

Roasting coffee at home also saves money! We purchase our green coffee beans for between $5-$6/lb and our roaster only uses about 5 cents of power for each batch (we can roast up to 3lbs of coffee). Of course it will take us a while to recoup the cost of the roaster, but since we invested in a roaster that will last for years to come so it will save a lot of money over it’s long lifetime.

Our initial efforts aren’t as good as the coffee we used to get from Al, but they’re better than any other coffee we’ve purchased. We’re also using single origin beans at the moment and we like a blend of beans for more depth of flavor. We have a few blends to try as well and we will most likely come up with our own blend with much experimentation. It looks to be a fun and delicious hobby! I’ll keep you posted on our adventures (Oh and I’m planning on making a how-to video someday for Ethel so I’ll let you know when that happens).

Have you ever roasted your own coffee or do you know someone that does? Have you ever considered roasting your own?

37 Comments to “A New Hobby: Roasting Coffee”
  1. Mrs. Mac on November 1, 2011 at 5:52 am

    Isn’t home roasting the best? :) We’ve been roasting ours for about a year now .. in an air popper .. making enough for about a weeks consumption at a time. and love it. Congrats on the nice roaster!

    Reply to Mrs. Mac's comment

  2. kristin @ going country on November 1, 2011 at 6:43 am

    I love that line about taking the normal path of doing it yourself to get a superior product. That’s pretty much why I do everything I do, too.

    I’ve never considered roasting coffee. I insist on the New Orleans-style coffee with chicory, so then I’d have to dig up chicory roots and roast THEM too, and . . . no. I think I’ll continue buying my coffee. It’s just about my only personal indulgence.

    Reply to kristin @ going country's comment

    • Susy on November 1, 2011 at 6:57 am

      I love roasted chicory too, though I’ve never had it in my coffee only in an herbal coffee from Mt Rose Herbs that I drink mid-morning. I’ll have to try putting some roasted chicory in my coffee sometime.

      Reply to Susy's comment

    • Nate Finch on November 1, 2011 at 11:13 am

      Sweet Maria’s has Chicory! Tom (the main guy behind the site) says he knows it’s a travesty, but he grew up in the area around New Orleans and likes it.

      Reply to Nate Finch's comment

      • KimH on November 1, 2011 at 4:05 pm

        Yum! I love chicory in my coffee ala New Oleans and I’ve always wanted to dig some up & give roasting it a try. I have directions on it, and it doesnt seem too difficult so I’ll have to wait for some time & a good stand of chicory. ;-)

        to KimH's comment

  3. Jaye Whitney on November 1, 2011 at 7:26 am

    I’ve never known anyone to roast their own! I assumed it was difficult and expensive, and must be done on a larger scale. What a pleasant surprise to see how you’ve done it and how easy it is!!! Please keep us posted on things that I experiment with.

    I love that you do things yourselves :)

    Reply to Jaye Whitney's comment

  4. tj on November 1, 2011 at 7:34 am

    …I love this idea but I don’t think I could take it to the extent like you and Mr. Chiots. Altho’ the popcorn popper or cast iron skillet did pique my interest quite a bit and I would like to try my hand at that. :o)

    …I love coffee but have never taken it any further than Folgers coffee and our Bunn coffee maker, that’s it. We’re novices to say the least. :o\

    …Love the photo of Mr. Chiots watching the roaster, reminds one of a little boy watching cookies bake in the oven. ;o)


    Reply to tj's comment

    • Susy on November 1, 2011 at 7:39 am

      It is just like watching cookies in the oven!

      Reply to Susy's comment

  5. Janet on November 1, 2011 at 8:23 am

    Neat! And, off topic… where did you get that storage jar in the last picture? Is it glass? I’m on the hunt for good glass pantry storage jars. Thanks for bloggin!

    Reply to Janet's comment

    • Susy on November 1, 2011 at 9:02 am

      It’s a LeParfait jar (a French canning jar). You can find a good selection on Amazon: Le Parfait Canning Jars or on various other places on-line. I usually buy mine at the local Lehman’s store to support local business, but they are tough to find locally so usually internet sources are best. They’re a bit pricey but well worth the investment as they’re super heavy glass (much heavier and nicer than other wire/bail jars) and they’ll certainly last a lifetime and most likely your children’s & grandchildren’s lifetime as well! They also come in all sizes, I have a good selection and use the 3L for storing flour and grains and the smaller versions for coffee, tea, herbs & other items. I love that they seal really well too, much better than a regular mason jar or saved peanut butter jars. I’m slowly transitioning most of my storage jars to these.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  6. daisy on November 1, 2011 at 8:33 am

    Never thought of roasting my own beans. What fun! I could see having tasting parties with friends who also appreciate coffee’s intoxicating aroma and flavor. Enjoy!

    Reply to daisy's comment

  7. Dave on November 1, 2011 at 8:57 am

    Very cool! We’ve never roasted our coffee but it might be something to try one day.

    Reply to Dave's comment

  8. Dave on November 1, 2011 at 9:05 am

    Susy, We’ve been roasting coffee beans for ages. There is just no better cup of joe than fresh, home roasted beans. Sweet Maria’s is an awesome site with great inexpensive roasters and beans!

    Sweet sips to all!


    Reply to Dave's comment

  9. Dave on November 1, 2011 at 9:06 am

    And we use the Fresh Roast machine to do espresso beans to great results.


    Reply to Dave's comment

  10. Jeannette on November 1, 2011 at 9:18 am

    This is roaster is definitely the way to go. I was curious last year about roasting my own so I started off by doing it in a cast iron skillet. The results were inconsistent and some of the beans burnt. Overall if your a coffee afficionado a skillet won’t do. I then moved on to a popcorn popper which does a pretty good job, though I’m sure it won’t compare to your roaster! IMO a popcorn popper tastes just as good as some of the 10/lb. local beans.

    Reply to Jeannette's comment

  11. Sofie Dittmann on November 1, 2011 at 10:32 am

    Your roaster looks cool. See, I told you that it would be easier than you thought, even though I have a feeling Brian is still fretting at Alptekin stopping his roasting business. It’s just not where we are anymore, tho – but we met you guys that way, and I definitely count that as a plus. :)

    Reply to Sofie Dittmann's comment

  12. Jessica Clark on November 1, 2011 at 11:12 am

    I’ve been wanting to do this but haven’t taken the plunge yet. Still doing research. I’ll have to check out that roaster.

    Reply to Jessica Clark's comment

  13. Nate Finch on November 1, 2011 at 11:23 am

    This is awesome, I’m really jealous of your roaster. I’ve been using a popcorn popper for a few months now. It makes a great cup of coffee, but the batch size is so small, I have to roast pretty much every day. I’d love to be able to do a single batch for a whole week. I might have to look into one of those roasters you got. It looks fantastic, and the price is actually quite low, compared to the off the shelf models, which, btw, only do about a pound.

    Reply to Nate Finch's comment

    • Susy on November 1, 2011 at 12:41 pm

      Yes, we were originally looking at a model that did 1 lb and decided we’d rather spend more to get the 3lb capacity. The roasters get really great reviews and some people commented that they’ve roasted over 1000 lbs of coffee in their, which gives us hope that, unlike most appliances, this one will go the long haul and end up saving quite a bit of money in it’s lifetime!

      Reply to Susy's comment

  14. Alyse on November 1, 2011 at 11:23 am

    What do the beans smell like as they are roasting? Do they smell like coffee or something else? Curious. :-)

    Reply to Alyse's comment

    • Susy on November 1, 2011 at 12:39 pm

      Doesn’t really smell like coffee until after the beans are cooled and sit for a bit. It’s hard to describe the smell during, it’s smoky and slightly burnt smell.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  15. goatpod2 on November 1, 2011 at 11:43 am

    Never considered roasting our own.


    Reply to goatpod2's comment

  16. sally on November 1, 2011 at 11:45 am

    Very cool! The coffee roaster looks like a modified Ronco Showtime Rotisserie…hmmm, very clever!

    Reply to sally's comment

    • Susy on November 1, 2011 at 1:06 pm

      It might be, at least the shell.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  17. Julie on November 1, 2011 at 11:52 am

    I have thought about trying this, but haven’t gotten up the courage yet. We too are espresso drinkers, so I am encouraged by your good experience. Thanks for posting about this! It has my wheels turning.

    Reply to Julie's comment

  18. Marcia on November 1, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    I am impressed. I don`t think I would go to that length since I only drink coffee every blue moon but I am wondering about the smell while you roast. Does it smell like coffee brewing? Does it smell like coffee at all?

    Reply to Marcia's comment

  19. KimH on November 1, 2011 at 4:11 pm

    Yum… it sounds like it smells and tastes wonderful. I love good coffee.. the deeper & richer the better. I’ve never considered roasting my own beans but someday when I get off the merry go round, I might very well consider it.

    Reply to KimH's comment

  20. MAYBELLINE on November 1, 2011 at 5:53 pm

    You know, I’ve never ever had coffee. I have tasted coffee flavored candies and ice cream and didn’t like it one bit. I do enjoy the smell of roasted coffee beans though.

    Reply to MAYBELLINE's comment

  21. andrea on November 2, 2011 at 1:02 pm

    Have you read American Terroir by Rowan Jacobsen? I highly recommend it and think you’ll love the chapter on coffee.

    Reply to andrea's comment

    • Susy on November 2, 2011 at 1:22 pm

      Thanks for the recommendation, I’m always looking for great books – will put this on my list!

      Reply to Susy's comment

  22. Sierra on November 2, 2011 at 6:06 pm

    This sounds wonderful! I’d love to get into roasting my own beans and I too, prefer a dark roast. Enjoy!

    Reply to Sierra's comment

  23. Loree on November 4, 2011 at 3:24 pm

    YUM! Home roasted coffee is the best! And dark is the way to go! We are on our second roaster (first one was small & couldn’t handle the amount of roasting!). We use a Behmor, but I wish we had something that could handle more capacity — like the 3 lbs. one you have.

    Reply to Loree's comment

  24. Cynthia on November 4, 2011 at 4:23 pm

    I’ve been considering doing this too since we have a hard time finding anything good locally. I’m still trying to work out the cost, though. Approximately how much weight do the beans lose in roasting?

    Reply to Cynthia's comment

    • Susy on November 6, 2011 at 8:13 pm

      Sorry it took so long for me to find this. The weight loss depends on how dark you roast the beans. Here’s a chart that will tell you. We haven’t weighed ours to see how much loss their is.

      Reply to Susy's comment

    • Susy on November 6, 2011 at 8:17 pm

      Just weighed the coffee we roasted today:

      we roasted a pound of each in green beans and as you can see the darker the roast the less end weight you have.
      for full city roast: 13.4 oz
      for vienna roast: 13.1 oz

      Reply to Susy's comment

      • Cynthia on November 7, 2011 at 4:15 pm

        Great – thank you! That’s actually not as much weight loss as I predicted.

        to Cynthia's comment

  25. Dave L on October 20, 2012 at 11:45 am

    Susy, Joanne and I have been roasting beans for about 10 years now. I too, like blended and have a trick for you. Don’t roast the different beans together. We find that we can take a Ethiopian bean and roast it darker, almost French roast, and then roast a Colombian bean to a lighter color. We cool the beans and blend 50/50 before grinding. Never store roasted beans in the freezer, it will change the flavor, but store airtight. Our vacuum sealer does this perfectly.

    Happy roasting!

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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