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Facts and fiction about food and cooking, by Peter Aitken
Roasting coffee at home is difficult and not worth the effort
August 17, 2013Posted by on
To the contrary! Since being turned on to coffee roasting a while back (after a visit to an organic coffee plantation in Nicaragua), I regret not having started sooner. If you want better, cheaper coffee for little effort, read on. If you like Charbucks – err, I mean Starbucks – coffee, don’t bother.
- Process: A coffee roaster can cost as little as $130. It looks sort of like a blender and works by blowing hot air up through the beans to agitate and roast them. Add the green (raw) beans, turn on, and forget – it’s that simple. You can vary the type of roast (light, medium, dark) by varying the roasting time and/or temperature. This process will generate some smoke, particularly when making a dark roast, so be forewarned. There are also drum smokers that heat the beans in a rotating drum.
- Savings: Green coffee beans, easily available over the internet, cost in the $5-7 / pound range with a few exceptions for super-premium beans like Jamaica Blue Mountain. Beans lose 15-20% of their weight in roasting, so a pound of roasted beans ends up costing $7.00-$7.50 / pound. Compare that with the $12-15 that high quality roasted beans cost. Your savings will soon pay for the roaster and you’ll be saving money.
- Variety: My favorite source of beans, Burman Coffee Traders, currently lists green beans from Costa Rica, Hawaii, India, Brazil, Colombia, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Indonesia, Jamaica, New Guinea, Tanzania … the list goes on. Decaf beans are available as well. Plus, you can experiments with your own blends.
So, if you love coffee – good coffee that is – you might want to try roasting your own.
Yes, roasting your own coffee can be fascinating and fun. I made my own roaster from a Stir Crazy popcorn popper and a turbo convection oven. You can find instructions online for how to do it.
Another popular source of green coffee beans is Sweet Marias. They also have roasters and other accessories. Note that you can also buy green decaffeinated beans from Sweet Marias and other sources.
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