Home Roasting Quick Start

How to get started roasting coffee at home

You love coffee right? Of course you do or you wouldn't be on this page. Order some green coffee beans and we will help walk you through the home roasting process. 

There are really only three steps on the way to roasting your own coffee. 

  1. Choose a roaster (or a method of roasting)
  2. Choose your green coffee beans
  3. Understand the roasting process 


Choosing your first coffee roaster

There are lots of options for your first roasting experience. Fortunately the easiest ways to get started are also the cheapest. 

The best way to get started (and the way I first started) is to use a Hot Air Popcorn Popper. Yes, believe it or not this is the cheapest and easiest way to get started and learn about roasting. You could also use a skillet, wok, stovetop popper or numerous other homemade methods. For our purposes I will discuss using the Hot Air Popcorn method. 

Air poppers

You can purchase an air roasting starter kit from us here, or you can go to Walmart and pick up an air popper. Our kit will include some green coffee beans to get you started, or you can just order the green coffee from us here.

There are a few things you should be aware of before we discuss air poppers further. 

  • Hot air popcorn poppers are not made for or intended to be used for roasting coffee
  • When using these poppers the life expectancy of the machine is short (on average 6 months in my experience) they just are not intended to run for as long as they do when roasting coffee
  • Any warranty that comes with the popper will be voided by using it for roasting coffee

With all of that out of the way, the poppers usually only cost about $12 to $30 at Walmart and work great for a new home roaster. For our guide to roasting with a Hot Air Popcorn Popper look here. 


Choose your green coffee beans

To help you get started we have a 4 pound sampler pack that includes a variety of our current offerings here. You can also view all of our current green coffee at this link. 


The process of roasting coffee

As your coffee begins to heat it will go through several stages that you will want to be able to identify in order to know how long to roast. There are many things to watch, smell and listen for as you roast but these are the basic stages. 

  • Yellowing - In the beginning while the beans are heating they will start to turn a slightly lighter yellow color, and the smell will be stronger but similar to the unheated green beans. Most roasters liken the smell to a grassy smell. 
  • Steam - As the beans heat further the water within them is dissipating and there will be small amounts of steam noticeable. 
  • First Crack - The all important "first crack". This is as it says an audible sound of the beans cracking. At this point the smell begins to change and the sugars in the beans begin to caramelize. As the beans crack, oil within the beans begins to escape.
  • Roasted - After the first crack the beans are roasted. A roast stopped right after first crack is called a "City Roast". From this point forward you are roasting to a matter of taste and preference. 
  • Caramelization - After first crack the beans will continue to have oils escape and the beans themselves expand in size as the roast gets darker. This slightly darker point after the "City Roast" is called a "Full City Roast".
  • Second Crack - At this point the beans begin to start making a new cracking sound. This is known of course as the "Second Crack". The second crack is often much more frequent and intense. Some liken this sound to the noise of Rice Krispies cereal. A roast stopped immediatley after the second crack is known as a "Vienna Roast". A little further into the second crack stage is known as a "Full City Plus" roast. It is important to know that after the second crack the beans begin to lose the unique flavor they possess. Commercial coffee is often roasted to this point or beyond in order to get a consistent taste. 
  • Dark Roast - As the beans darken after the second crack the smoke becomes intense from the beans as the sugars burn off completely and the beans expand and break down. At the end of the second crack roasts are known as a "French Roast".
  • Point Of No Return! - Be careful not to go beyond this point as the smoke intensifies further so does the risk of fire from the beans. At this point the beans will not be worth using. 


Cooling and Storing Your Coffee

When removing your coffee from the roaster you will pour it into a colander or strainer to allow it to cool. Leaving beans in the roaster will keep them warm and the roasting process will continue until they cool. After your beans are cool let them sit for 12-24 hours in a loosely sealed container as the beans will continue to give off CO2. Coffee is best used with in 7 days of roasting (another reason to roast your own coffee or buy freshly roasted coffee). After 7 days the quality begins to degrade. However, it is also best to wait 24 to 48 hours to use your beans while they attain peak flavor after degassing.