...In which we learn how to roast our own coffee!

23 Feb 2011

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Turns out, roasting your own coffee beans isn't all that difficult! Last weekend, I had an awesome time learning how at Mr. Green Beans here in PDX.

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If you're local, do visit the store on NE Mississippi. It's lovely, and well-stocked with raw coffee beans from various parts of the world. There are several coffee-roasting classes each week, held in their comfortable upstairs classroom. (They also sell raw coffee beans in their online store.)

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The class was super well laid-out, with sample beans at different stages of roasting, and a sample of the "chaff" that peels off the beans during the roasting process.

Fun Fact: Coffee beans grow in size and get lighter in weight as they roast.

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Co-owner Trevin Miller does a very thorough job explaining three methods of home coffee roasting: with a commercial roasting machine like this one; with an air popcorn popper; and with a simple skillet or wok. Each one has pros and cons, but surprisingly, each one takes only a few minutes.

Fun Fact: Raw coffee beans are shelf-stable, and will keep for a very long time at the right temperature and humidity. Once it's roasted, though, coffee loses its freshness quickly, despite all the little tricks we do to keep it fresh longer.

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K. even got to participate, and roast a batch of beans in an air popcorn popper. (I always knew that getting rid of the one I had in college would someday come back to haunt me!)

This nice guide on the Mr. Green Beans website talks about what happens during the roasting process.

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Fun Fact: You might think it spells amazing while you're roasting the beans. Actually, what you smell is smoke, as that "chaff" flakes off and burns. (Ventilation is super important.) And freshly-roasted beans smell nothing like coffee! They're busy outgassing carbon dioxide for the first few hours. The lovely coffee aroma emerges later.

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We tried the skillet method at home, and found it really educational. (Yup, I know that's not a skillet.)

It's important to keep the beans moving at all times, so they have equal heat exposure on all sides. This can be somewhat challenging to do in a flat skillet, which is why the air-popper method is so nice - as that hot air blows through the beans, it keeps them in motion.

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See what I mean? Our skillet-roasted beans came out rather uneven. They still developed a lovely aroma, but ultimately the brewed coffee lacked some complexity.

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Even so, you cannot believe the difference in flavor when your beans have been roasted within the last 12 hours or so. Unbelievably delicious coffee! We're now stalking air poppers on eBay.

Incidentally, Locals – Mr. Green Beans also has classes and equipment for at-home cheese making and soap-making!

Comments

Very interesting! It got me wondering about out stovetop popcorn popper. It's one one of these
http://www.leevalley.com/en/gifts/page.aspx?p=64273
(the one on the left) you turn the handle to keep the corn moving. Wonder if that might work?


It would! That was one of the tools demonstrated in class!


How fun is that? But I opt for letting someone else roast my coffee . Wish we had a Mr. Green Beans near us in Northern Arizona! I'd love to take a soap-making class!


What fun! I love your pictures- I feel like I was there! I had no idea roasting your own coffee beans was possible, let alone more tasty! I just figured out that popping my own popcorn was, in fact, tastier! I wonder if you could use an air-popper for both?


You know, I wouldn't use the same air-popper for both. I'd worry that the smoke from that burning chaff might tamper with the flavor of your popcorn later, since the hood of the popper is plastic and plastics absorb smells. But the air-popper really works beautifully for coffee - we did a batch in class, and it was so easy!


Cool! Apparently some of the newer model poppers are built differently than the older ones Trevis recommended for coffee roasting. If your popper has a screen at the bottom of the roasting bed, you'll need to modify your popper. You can contact DIY Coffee Roasting for more info on that.


Wow! I might become a coffee roaster now. You make everything so accessible. That's a gift you have, Diane. :) Thank you!


Thank YOU, Caissa! That's so kind. Definitely, try some coffee-roasting!


Indeed my first thought was that the roasting beans must smell heavenly - surprised to hear that indeed it is not so great. This was fun to see in pix, I love learning things about every day stuff. Thx!


Indeed my first thought was that the roasting beans must smell heavenly - surprised to hear that indeed it is not so great. This was fun to see in pix, I love learning things about every day stuff. Thx!


Indeed my first thought was that the roasting beans must smell heavenly - surprised to hear that indeed it is not so great. This was fun to see in pix, I love learning things about every day stuff. Thx!


Indeed my first thought was that the roasting beans must smell heavenly - surprised to hear that indeed it is not so great. This was fun to see in pix, I love learning things about every day stuff. Thx!


I can not wait to join you in taking another class on Sunday! I just know my sweetie will become an amazing coffee roaster!


What a cool name: Trevin!

I'd be home all the time. Are you kidding? Roasting AND drinking? I'd need a granny square uniform for the self-employed, that's for sure!

This is a groovy idea, and I think we need a Mr. Green Beans to go National.


This looks like so much fun! I would love to try it at home - I'll have to get my hands on some unroasted beans and it sounds like the popcorn maker is the way to go. My husband & I made mozzarella cheese at home for the first time a few weeks ago and it was awesome (and really easy!) - love DIY food projects :)


Ooh, I'm dying to make cheese at home! That's my next big project...


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