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Is Roasting Your Own Coffee Beans Worth the Time & Effort?

Roasting my own coffee beans

Is roasting your own coffee worth the time and effort? The answer to this question depends on what kind of coffee drinker you are. Do you want to learn more about your favorite beans and have control over every step of the brewing process? Roasting coffee beans at home may be for you. But if you’re short on time and willing to sacrifice a little freshness and flavor, you may prefer to leave it to the experts.

HELPFUL TIP: When shopping for coffee beans online, look for roasters that will roast your beans on demand. This will help you get the freshest, most full flavor without roasting beans at home.

Being able to roast your own beans will give you the freshest coffee flavors and the most authentic coffee experience, and it’s all created by you! That’s something to be proud of. If you’re curious about if the process would fit into your lifestyle, you can keep reading to find out if it’s worth it for you.

What are the benefits of roasting coffee at home?

Besides the fact that you get to craft your coffee from start to finish, you also get to learn some new skills. Learning to roast doesn’t take too long once you have all the equipment and establish a good roasting routine.

You also get to enjoy coffee the way it’s meant to be tasted. When you roast your own coffee, you will know where the beans come from, what the base flavors are, and what the bean went through before reaching your cup.

Another huge benefit is that because you pick the roast level, it’s easy to control the flavor of your coffee. Roast level can determine how complex it is (lightly roasted), how balanced and earthy it is (medium roast), or how sweet and caramelized or smoky it is (dark roast).

Caffeine level is also controlled by the roast. Light roast beans contain slightly more caffeine than their dark roast counterparts. If you want a lot of caffeine, leave it lightly roasted, but if caffeine level isn’t as important, then medium and dark roasts develop great flavors.

How long does it take?

How much time does it take to roast your own batch of beans? Besides sourcing the green coffee beans, you have the steps of the roasting process.

This process takes between 10-13 minutes for small batches and 16-18 minutes for large batches to roast. Altogether, it might take 20 or 30 minutes of your time to roast a final product of one or two pounds of fresh coffee. Keep in mind that you’ll need to repeat this process whenever you run out of coffee.

roasting time

What’s the basic process?

During the roasting process, coffee beans absorb heat, which darkens their color. At higher temperatures, oils appear on the surface of the beans. At 401°F the beans crack for the first time and start to expand. Around 437°F is the second crack.

1. Put your green coffee beans in your heating element.

You can use a cast iron pan or popcorn popper on a stovetop or an electric coffee roasting appliance. Keep in mind that the roasting process can be very smoky, so make sure you have good ventilation.

2. Turn up the heat and stir the beans.

It’s very important to continually stir to make sure your coffee beans are roasting evenly. You don’t want to end up with a mixture of dark, medium, and light roasts, which would lead to inconsistent flavors and extraction.

3. Watch the beans and listen for the first crack.

Continue until your beans reach your desired roast level.

  • Light Roast: Remove your beans from heat right before the first crack (356°F – 401°F).
  • Medium Roast: At the first crack or slightly afterward (410°F-428°F).
  • Dark Roast: Right after the second crack, but sometimes longer (437°F – 482°F).

Coffee beans are never roasted above 482°F, because it will start to thin out the bean and create a burnt taste. You probably don’t want to drink charcoal.

4. Separate the chaff and let the coffee cool before storing.

Using a colander or your coffee roaster’s built-in chaff collector, separate your roasted beans from the chaff, which is the gold-colored outer skin. Let the coffee cool and store it in a non-airtight container overnight. This will allow the freshly-roasted beans to degas.

About 24 hours after roasting, your coffee will be at its most flavorful. Grind your beans just before brewing and store the remainder in an opaque, airtight container. You’ll be amazed at the vibrant flavor, strong aroma, and impressive bloom.

Ready to get started? You can read our full home roasting guide here.

freshly roasted beans

How difficult is roasting coffee beans?

Coffee roasting experts spend years perfecting the craft, so it may take you quite a while to produce consistently roasted beans. If you have very sensitive taste buds and are willing to drink nothing but the best, learning how to roast coffee beans may be a frustrating experience for you. However, if you’re willing to experiment a bit and put up with a few batches of unevenly-roasted beans, you may find this process quite rewarding.

It does take more effort than buying coffee online or at a coffee shop, but don’t forget that it will get easier as you establish your roasting routine.

Where do you find green coffee beans?

Online is the best place to find them. Amazon offers several great varieties from a variety of growing regions, including green beans from Primos Coffee Co. and Stone Street Coffee. Sweet Maria’s is famous for its high-quality green coffee beans and roasting tips.

You can also look for local coffee roasters and cafés that may be willing to sell their green coffee beans to you. If you want to go that route, you’ll need to scout it out for yourself. It’s always handy to make connections with your community to maximize your coffee knowledge.

green coffee beans

Buying Tip: Buy double the green coffee beans you think you need. Roasting removes water from the beans, so one pound of green beans will turn into half a pound of roasted beans. If you want one pound of roasted coffee, get two pounds of green beans.

Make sure you get a bean that you like! Green coffee beans smell grassy, so it’s difficult to tell by the raw smell what the aroma and taste will be like after roasting.

As a consumer, the solution is to pay attention to the origin and base flavors of the bean, as well as if it is Arabica or Robusta. Don’t worry, though: online green coffee bean vendors have descriptions that give you details like this. Choose beans you know you’ll love, or try something new!

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Conclusion

Roasting your own coffee beans can be worth the time and effort for those who value freshness and flavor above all else. Coffee is most flavorful for a week after roasting, so roasting at home means you always get to enjoy your coffee at its best.

The roasting lifestyle is best for coffee lovers who have the motivation and willingness to source green beans and perfect the roasting process. We hope this guide has helped you decide if roasting coffee at home suits you and your lifestyle.


Header image credit: Wikimedia

Kate MacDonnell

Kate is a lifelong coffee enthusiast and homebrewer who enjoys writing for coffee websites and sampling every kind of coffee known to man. She’s tried unusual coffees from all over the world and owns an unhealthy amount of coffee gear.

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