By Contributing Writer, Virginia Miner
Our family has been known to end up on the weird end of the “make or buy” question, and our latest venture is no different… in an attempt to cut coffee costs while continuing to drink the same amount of coffee that we enjoy, we have turned to roasting our own coffee beans.
It all started when we bought the cheapest beans that Costco had, which were a light roast. I very quickly discovered that not only do I prefer the flavor of a dark roast, light roasted coffee gives me stomach cramps like the dickens! After a very uncomfortable morning and afternoon, I asked my husband “Couldn’t we just roast this darker ourselves?”
We did some experimenting with light roasted beans in a cast iron pan, with encouraging but mixed results. It turns out that re-roasting beans is not a very productive endeavor; however, the google searches that we did about roasting beans ended up alerting us to the fact that you CAN roast your own coffee at home.
It also turns out that buying unroasted (green) coffee beans in bulk from a grower is a bit cheaper per pound than what we had been paying at Costco for coffee beans. We bought beans from Columbia through Copan Trade, though if you do your own research you will find that there are many places where you can buy green beans.
All it takes to roast your coffee beans at home are some green beans, and… a hand crank popcorn popper!
We use the Whirlipop.
(Beth’s note: we have the exact same one, but it is made from aluminum, which I typically avoid, so I’m planning to replace it at some point with a stainless steel version, like this one.)
The method is very simple.
Roast Your Own Coffee
Load up your popcorn popper with 3 cups (roughly 1 lb) of green beans, put it over medium heat, and crank until the beans are roasted to your satisfaction.
If you find that, like me, coffee can give you a stomach ache, you might try roasting your beans very dark. The American Chemical Society (ACS) published an interesting article confirming my experience with various degrees of coffee roast. It turns out that while lighter roasts of coffee increase stomach acid production, darker roasts have a chemical (N-methylpyridium) which inhibits production of hydrochloric acid, making for a more comfortable coffee drinking experience.
All that being said, if you are roasting your own coffee, you get to customize your roast!
It will probably take you some time to figure out just how you like your beans, but if you are someone who enjoys coffee, I imagine that you will come to enjoy the process of creating custom roasts as well!
A couple of tips:
- The darker you roast your coffee, the more your beans increase in volume. Our dark roast beans approximately double in volume.
- If you have an outdoor burner, roast your coffee outside. Otherwise, turn your smoke detector off and turn on your fan while you are roasting!
- Roasting the beans does not take long. A dark roast takes 10-15 minutes.