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Home Coffee Roasting
Old 12-01-2020, 04:01 PM   #1
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Home Coffee Roasting

I was wondering if there was a thread about home coffee roasting here. I found this one, which was rather short:

https://www.early-retirement.org/for...rse-59128.html

Thought it might be good to start a discussion in case anyone else is interested. There are at least a couple of us that enjoy fresh roasted coffee.

We have two coffee drinkers in our house. We buy green coffee from Sweet Marias. Roast about 6 ounces X 3 different types of coffee per week. It takes about a week for us to drink this much so every batch starts out about 1 week old. (Fresh roasted coffee does need to sit a few days for the taste to improve.)

The fresh roasted coffee has more aromatic flavor notes than coffee we can buy. In our opinion it's much better.

To roast, we use a Behmor roaster (actually our second) which is about the size of a toaster oven. It is very compact and easy to use. (We started with a hacked popcorn popper then graduated up to a Behmor.)

In our last house, we kept the Behmor in a closet. Then when we wanted to roast, we brought it out to the kitchen where the stove fan could exhaust the smoke.

In our current house we keep it in the workshop so I can putter around while coffee is roasting. It is a "spectator sport" so it's important to be close to the roaster to listen for the sounds and smoke. These are cues to coffee roasting progress.

Our default brewing method is an Aeropress with water at 185F. There are many other methods but this is the easiest, fastest way we have found, with super easy cleanup.

The other thing we did that made a big flavor improvement is get a good grinder. We use a Lido 2 from Orphan Espresso.

If anyone is interested in getting started, those of us with experience can help you. It's a source of continuous pleasure for us..
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Old 12-01-2020, 04:21 PM   #2
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Well I do love good coffee and drink a fair amount. I just don't know if I could stay committed enough to do my own roasting constantly despite the quality improvements.
Now that I'm not working I don't have time for anything.
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Old 12-01-2020, 04:37 PM   #3
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I roasted coffee at home for a few years. It was the best coffee I ever tasted. I got my green beans from Sweet Maria’s. I used a tiny little air popper type gadget that was for coffee roasting. I remember taking it to the second crack and counting to some number. Results were very consistent. Didn’t take long so it required my full attention. Due to copious smoke I always took it outside. I still remember the interesting smells. It didn’t smell like roasted coffee until it had outgassed several hours.

We were already well setup with a plumbed in small commercial espresso machine and nice burr grinder. DH was quite the barista.

I gave it all up when we moved into a motorhome.
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Old 12-01-2020, 04:49 PM   #4
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well if KevinK comes along you will have lots of helpful info. He has literally written the book( well a book) about the subject.
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Old 12-01-2020, 04:58 PM   #5
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I roasted coffee at home for a few years. It was the best coffee I ever tasted. I got my green beans from Sweet Mariaís. I used a tiny little air popper type gadget that was for coffee roasting. I remember taking it to the second crack and counting to some number. Results were very consistent. Didnít take long so it required my full attention. Due to copious smoke I always took it outside. I still remember the interesting smells. It didnít smell like roasted coffee until it had outgassed several hours.

We were already well setup with a plumbed in small commercial espresso machine and nice burr grinder. DH was quite the barista.

I gave it all up when we moved into a motorhome.
Audrey, thanks for chiming in. I remember you contributing to the thread I linked. From your description above, it's obvious that you are experienced.

We know the smell you refer to. Our whole house smells that way on roasting day. And even though the Behmor is supposed to reduce the smoke, we still get a lot of it. Partly because I open the door to speed the cooling...
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Old 12-01-2020, 05:52 PM   #6
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Initially the smell is grassy to me. As it approaches cracks the smell changes significantly and is far more complex and hard to describe. It doesn’t really smell like fresh roasted coffee to me until the next morning when it has outgassed 12 hours then I seal it.

Very interesting process and I enjoyed it. I used a lot of Sumatran or Ethiopian beans in my dark roast blend because I liked the smooth rich chocolate notes.

I can see that in 2011 I thought I might get a larger roaster some time. I can tell you right now that ain’t happening. I have too many irons in the fire. My smoker keeps me busy too.
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Old 12-01-2020, 05:53 PM   #7
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Yes I roast coffee. I started off with the popcorn pop method and have moved to the bread maker with a heat gun method. I had to modify the bread maker and move the thermal fuse because I was tripping it. But works great now. I typically do about a half pound each time on my deck. I'm partial to roasting Guatemalan or Sumatran, but have done about every origin of coffee out there.

I started off getting my green coffee from Sweet Maria's, however I have found local roasters would give it to me for half their roasted price. There's a nice independent roaster near me that has a good selection and I can get for about $7 a pound.

I thought about adding some controllers to be able to manage the roast better and have also researched the Behmor. I like the Behmor and have looked occasionally on Craigslist to find a used one but haven't found one locally yet and this hasn't risen high enough on my needs list where I'll buy one new. I'd say when I retire I'll get one but that's a pretty long list of things I want to treat myself too LOL.
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Old 12-01-2020, 06:05 PM   #8
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I concur with the suggestion to rely on Sweet Maria's (.com) for green coffee, roasters, brewers and advice. It's now the single most useful coffee info site on the web, even if you don't want to roast your own coffee.

I generally recommend that folks start with a $20 hot air popcorn popper like the one SM's sells. It's an outdoor-only use item because of the smoke but it's a dirt cheap way to learn the basic progression of the roast and see if you like roasting coffee. From there I'd look at the Fresh Roast roasters which are basically hot air poppers with the addition of separate fan and heat switches and a chaff collector.

I've owned a Behmor roaster (and brew my coffee most often on their fabulous Brazen drip brewer) but you can't see what's going on with the beans during roasting and doing even moderately dark roasts on them is dangerous. So I'd say spend the ~$150 on a Fresh Roast and if you decide at some point you want a larger roast size while still having excellent visibility of the beans and therefore pinpoint roast control consider a Gene Cafť.

As finnski1 mentioned I worked as a buyer and roaster for Allegro Coffee and Starbucks and did indeed write a book on coffee many moons ago. Thanks to Sweet Maria's I now enjoy the best coffees of my life for around $8-9 a pound total roasted cost. I especially recommend taking advantage of their stellar Ethiopian and Kenyan selections right now but you simply can't go wrong.
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Old 12-01-2020, 06:56 PM   #9
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Love my daily latte with a double shot of espresso. Only one, so I make sure it's a good one. Obviously, that's not enough to warrant roasting my own beans. I'm quite happy with a few of the blends from Peet's and Tony's (an excellent roaster in Bellingham, Washington). Both put a roast date on their bags and ship out promptly. If I buy the coffee on sale, the cost is barely more than if I roasted at home.
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Old 12-01-2020, 07:02 PM   #10
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But, I can get already roasted coffee for under $6 a pound at Costco. Why pay more?
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Old 12-01-2020, 08:57 PM   #11
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But, I can get already roasted coffee for under $6 a pound at Costco. Why pay more?
The taste difference is incredible!
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Old 12-02-2020, 09:47 AM   #12
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But, I can get already roasted coffee for under $6 a pound at Costco. Why pay more?
Costco really is one of the best-value places to buy middle-of-the-road quality coffee - PROVIDED you have the freezer space to properly store the beans you won't go through within a week from opening the package.

But as audrey1 pointed out, the difference in flavor and aroma of, say, home-roasted single-farm Kenya, Ethiopia or Guatemala from Sweet Maria's vs. the best that Costco offers is night and day. If I had to live with Costco coffee I'd just switch to tea.
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Old 12-02-2020, 09:59 AM   #13
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I am not a coffee drinker, but my wife enjoys it. Several years ago I bought her a Fresh Roast SR500 roaster. Initially she was driving over to the big city to buy green beans, but I started ordering them online from Sweet Marias. I got several varieties for her, but her favorites seemed to be the Huehuetenango's from Guatemala.

Roasting the beans really puts off the smell and leaves the husks everywhere, so she always roasts outside on the front porch. Even so, the house smells like coffee for days after she brings them in the house to age in jars. Not a pleasant smell for me, but whatever makes her happy.

She really had fun roasting her own coffee, but hasn't really had the time to do it over the last year or so. I often buy her an assortment of green coffee beans for Christmas.
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Old 12-02-2020, 12:43 PM   #14
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Silly question from a coffee lover that has never roasted my own beans...why is home roasted so much better than what you can buy?
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Old 12-02-2020, 03:25 PM   #15
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So, does roasting coffee in Sweet Maria's popcorn popper really work well? If it works well why bother buying a roasting machine if one only needs to roast a small amount of coffee each week or every few days?
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Old 12-02-2020, 03:57 PM   #16
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This seems like something I might want to try. Love a good cup of dark roast, although due to caffeine sensitivity I have to stick with decaf.

Looks like it would cost around $15 to order a pound of decaf beans from Sweet Maria's. Roughly $7 for the beans and $8 for shipping. Seems fairly expensive compared to the (relatively) freshly roasted, bulk, whole coffee beans I can buy from any local Starbucks. Not sure I'd want to spend 50% more for unroasted beans unless the difference in taste is pretty mind-blowing.
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Old 12-02-2020, 04:25 PM   #17
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Silly question from a coffee lover that has never roasted my own beans...why is home roasted so much better than what you can buy?
The reason fresh roasted coffee is so much better is that roasted coffee is very much like a baked good with no preservatives. It starts changing right after roasting.

There are a lot of aromatic compounds that contribute greatly to flavor. These dissipate over time, so for coffee that is roasted remotely and delivered to stores or coffee shops, the coffee can easily be "stale".

We did not understand this when we bought Columbian at Costco in a 3 lb bag. It used to be quite good when we opened it then as we consumed the bag it would be less and less flavorful. I wondered if it was my aging taste buds but ended up learning about the effect of time from a friend who home roasts.

I tested the "fresh roasted" hypothesis by going to a fresh roasted coffee shop near my apartment. I could not beleive how good that coffee was. That led us to start roasting ourselves.

The thing we do at home is make up our own blends each day. We roast 3 different types once a week (more in iced coffee season). Then when we make coffee we take a little out of each jar which varies from day to day. That variation, plus the naturally changing coffee due to aging, creates variety in our lives. We never get bored.

Costwise whenever I calculate it I come out with about $.50/cup.

Hope this answers your question.
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Old 12-02-2020, 04:31 PM   #18
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I’ll try to answer these questions at least partially.


Music Lover: you have total control of the quality of the green coffee, degree of roast and freshness when you roast your own. When you buy roasted beans you don’t have any control over these critically important factors.

Chuckanut: with a hot air popcorn popper a roast yields only about enough coffee for one 1 quart pot of coffee - meaning that for a couple you’d be roasting every day. And the control of the degree of roast is nowhere near as precise as with a larger roaster - though it’s good enough and with a bit of trial-and-error you’re still pretty much guaranteed to be drinking far better coffee for less money.



Sojourner: it’s true that the cheapest freight option from Sweet Maria’s is $8.99 for the up to 20 pound UPS special. I make a point of ordering at least 10 lbs. of coffee at a time for that reason. My wife and I go through about 5 lbs. of green coffee a month, drinking a couple of cups a day apiece. 

Decaf is trickier to roast than regular coffee but once you get the hang of it your coffee should be excellent. Not to say it’s necessarily worth the hassle - particularly if you’re happy with what you’re already getting for roasted decaf coffee.
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Old 12-02-2020, 04:56 PM   #19
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Looks like it would cost around $15 to order a pound of decaf beans from Sweet Maria's. Roughly $7 for the beans and $8 for shipping. Seems fairly expensive compared to the (relatively) freshly roasted, bulk, whole coffee beans I can buy from any local Starbucks. Not sure I'd want to spend 50% more for unroasted beans unless the difference in taste is pretty mind-blowing.
I used to buy from Sweet Maria's however didn't like paying shipping costs as well which is why I started asking local roasters in my area if they would just sell me the green beans. I have several independent roasters in my area where I live that will sell me the green beans. They won't advertise them but just ask them. It takes a bit of practice to perfect what you like. then I guarantee you you will have some batches over roasted and some under roasted to start out with as you learn, but it's fun to dial it in.
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Old 12-02-2020, 06:52 PM   #20
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But, I can get already roasted coffee for under $6 a pound at Costco. Why pay more?
IMHO, you can do much better than Costco coffee beans without going so far as to roast your own beans.
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