I’ve talked about our love of coffee several times before. Mr Chiots and I are coffee aficionados; we drink coffee like other people drink wine, talking about the depth of flavor, the crema on the espresso right after brewing, and on and on. We were super happy to find a local source for the most wonderful micro-roasted coffee, but sadly Al quit roasting to sell and we were left sans good fresh micro-roasted coffee beans. Rather than settle for mediocre, we decided to take our normal path and simply start doing it ourselves.

We spent some time researching beans sources and coffee roasters then we took the plunge. There are many people that roast their coffee in an air popcorn popper. Since we’re espresso drinkers and like a dark roast, that wasn’t an option for us. We needed a drum roaster.

After doing much research we found CafeCoffees which is a guy who builds them on a small scale. What we really like about this roaster is that he makes them repairable with parts from the local home improvement store. Whenever possible we like to buy appliances sans electronic controls and made to be repaired. They’re usually more expensive initially but end up being much cheaper over the long term. As small business owners, we also appreciate supporting a small business. The 3 pound roasting capacity of the roaster we purchased was an added benefit since it will save time and money over roasting in smaller batches.

We ordered a collection of espresso beans from Sweet Maria’s, some single origin and some blends. Then we waiting for our roaster to arrive, eagerly anticipating the wonders of home roasted coffee. Our beans arrived about a week before our roaster. To fill in the gap, we had to buy beans from another small local roaster to get us through. Needless to say, our decision to roast at home was backed up by the flat flavor to of that coffee.

Our roaster arrived last Saturday; we set it up and roasted two pounds of coffee on Sunday afternoon. We were happy with the roaster that we chose and were also pleasantly surprised by our roasting results (especially since it was our first batch). Technically you’re supposed wait 2-3 days after roasting for the espresso to “bloom” fully, but we couldn’t wait. We brewed some on Monday morning.

You may think roasting your own coffee at home is difficult and you need special equipment – but it’s not and you don’t. There are some people that simply use an air popcorn popper and some that even do it in a cast iron skillet (which I may try someday when we want some coffee to brew in our Chemex). Basically you put your green coffee beans in your roaster and roast until desired doneness, we like a darker roast so we wait until they start the second crack (sounds like popcorn popping). Then you cool as rapidly as possible and you’re done. We were actually amazed by how easy it was!

Roasting coffee at home also saves money! We purchase our green coffee beans for between $5-$6/lb and our roaster only uses about 5 cents of power for each batch (we can roast up to 3lbs of coffee). Of course it will take us a while to recoup the cost of the roaster, but since we invested in a roaster that will last for years to come so it will save a lot of money over it’s long lifetime.

Our initial efforts aren’t as good as the coffee we used to get from Al, but they’re better than any other coffee we’ve purchased. We’re also using single origin beans at the moment and we like a blend of beans for more depth of flavor. We have a few blends to try as well and we will most likely come up with our own blend with much experimentation. It looks to be a fun and delicious hobby! I’ll keep you posted on our adventures (Oh and I’m planning on making a how-to video someday for Ethel so I’ll let you know when that happens).

Have you ever roasted your own coffee or do you know someone that does? Have you ever considered roasting your own?

36 Responses to A New Hobby: Roasting Coffee

  1. Mrs. Mac says:

    Isn’t home roasting the best? 🙂 We’ve been roasting ours for about a year now .. in an air popper .. making enough for about a weeks consumption at a time. and love it. Congrats on the nice roaster!

  2. I love that line about taking the normal path of doing it yourself to get a superior product. That’s pretty much why I do everything I do, too.

    I’ve never considered roasting coffee. I insist on the New Orleans-style coffee with chicory, so then I’d have to dig up chicory roots and roast THEM too, and . . . no. I think I’ll continue buying my coffee. It’s just about my only personal indulgence.

  3. Jaye Whitney says:

    I’ve never known anyone to roast their own! I assumed it was difficult and expensive, and must be done on a larger scale. What a pleasant surprise to see how you’ve done it and how easy it is!!! Please keep us posted on things that I experiment with.

    I love that you do things yourselves 🙂

  4. tj says:

    …I love this idea but I don’t think I could take it to the extent like you and Mr. Chiots. Altho’ the popcorn popper or cast iron skillet did pique my interest quite a bit and I would like to try my hand at that. :o)

    …I love coffee but have never taken it any further than Folgers coffee and our Bunn coffee maker, that’s it. We’re novices to say the least. 😮

    …Love the photo of Mr. Chiots watching the roaster, reminds one of a little boy watching cookies bake in the oven. ;o)


  5. Janet says:

    Neat! And, off topic… where did you get that storage jar in the last picture? Is it glass? I’m on the hunt for good glass pantry storage jars. Thanks for bloggin!

    • Susy says:

      It’s a LeParfait jar (a French canning jar). You can find a good selection on Amazon: Le Parfait Canning Jars or on various other places on-line. I usually buy mine at the local Lehman’s store to support local business, but they are tough to find locally so usually internet sources are best. They’re a bit pricey but well worth the investment as they’re super heavy glass (much heavier and nicer than other wire/bail jars) and they’ll certainly last a lifetime and most likely your children’s & grandchildren’s lifetime as well! They also come in all sizes, I have a good selection and use the 3L for storing flour and grains and the smaller versions for coffee, tea, herbs & other items. I love that they seal really well too, much better than a regular mason jar or saved peanut butter jars. I’m slowly transitioning most of my storage jars to these.

  6. daisy says:

    Never thought of roasting my own beans. What fun! I could see having tasting parties with friends who also appreciate coffee’s intoxicating aroma and flavor. Enjoy!

  7. Dave says:

    Very cool! We’ve never roasted our coffee but it might be something to try one day.

  8. Dave says:

    Susy, We’ve been roasting coffee beans for ages. There is just no better cup of joe than fresh, home roasted beans. Sweet Maria’s is an awesome site with great inexpensive roasters and beans!

    Sweet sips to all!


  9. Dave says:

    And we use the Fresh Roast machine to do espresso beans to great results.


  10. Jeannette says:

    This is roaster is definitely the way to go. I was curious last year about roasting my own so I started off by doing it in a cast iron skillet. The results were inconsistent and some of the beans burnt. Overall if your a coffee afficionado a skillet won’t do. I then moved on to a popcorn popper which does a pretty good job, though I’m sure it won’t compare to your roaster! IMO a popcorn popper tastes just as good as some of the 10/lb. local beans.

  11. Your roaster looks cool. See, I told you that it would be easier than you thought, even though I have a feeling Brian is still fretting at Alptekin stopping his roasting business. It’s just not where we are anymore, tho – but we met you guys that way, and I definitely count that as a plus. 🙂

  12. Jessica Clark says:

    I’ve been wanting to do this but haven’t taken the plunge yet. Still doing research. I’ll have to check out that roaster.

  13. Nate Finch says:

    This is awesome, I’m really jealous of your roaster. I’ve been using a popcorn popper for a few months now. It makes a great cup of coffee, but the batch size is so small, I have to roast pretty much every day. I’d love to be able to do a single batch for a whole week. I might have to look into one of those roasters you got. It looks fantastic, and the price is actually quite low, compared to the off the shelf models, which, btw, only do about a pound.

    • Susy says:

      Yes, we were originally looking at a model that did 1 lb and decided we’d rather spend more to get the 3lb capacity. The roasters get really great reviews and some people commented that they’ve roasted over 1000 lbs of coffee in their, which gives us hope that, unlike most appliances, this one will go the long haul and end up saving quite a bit of money in it’s lifetime!

  14. Alyse says:

    What do the beans smell like as they are roasting? Do they smell like coffee or something else? Curious. 🙂

    • Susy says:

      Doesn’t really smell like coffee until after the beans are cooled and sit for a bit. It’s hard to describe the smell during, it’s smoky and slightly burnt smell.

  15. goatpod2 says:

    Never considered roasting our own.


  16. sally says:

    Very cool! The coffee roaster looks like a modified Ronco Showtime Rotisserie…hmmm, very clever!

  17. Julie says:

    I have thought about trying this, but haven’t gotten up the courage yet. We too are espresso drinkers, so I am encouraged by your good experience. Thanks for posting about this! It has my wheels turning.

  18. Marcia says:

    I am impressed. I don`t think I would go to that length since I only drink coffee every blue moon but I am wondering about the smell while you roast. Does it smell like coffee brewing? Does it smell like coffee at all?

  19. KimH says:

    Yum… it sounds like it smells and tastes wonderful. I love good coffee.. the deeper & richer the better. I’ve never considered roasting my own beans but someday when I get off the merry go round, I might very well consider it.

  20. MAYBELLINE says:

    You know, I’ve never ever had coffee. I have tasted coffee flavored candies and ice cream and didn’t like it one bit. I do enjoy the smell of roasted coffee beans though.

  21. andrea says:

    Have you read American Terroir by Rowan Jacobsen? I highly recommend it and think you’ll love the chapter on coffee.

  22. Sierra says:

    This sounds wonderful! I’d love to get into roasting my own beans and I too, prefer a dark roast. Enjoy!

  23. Loree says:

    YUM! Home roasted coffee is the best! And dark is the way to go! We are on our second roaster (first one was small & couldn’t handle the amount of roasting!). We use a Behmor, but I wish we had something that could handle more capacity — like the 3 lbs. one you have.

  24. Cynthia says:

    I’ve been considering doing this too since we have a hard time finding anything good locally. I’m still trying to work out the cost, though. Approximately how much weight do the beans lose in roasting?

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