Roasting Your Own Coffee - A Hobby You Can Love
There is nothing like a cup of coffee that has been freshly
roasted, ground and brewed to perfection. There are a growing
number of enthusiasts who are roasting their own coffee beans and
enjoying the benefits of truly fresh coffee at about one-third of
the price of beans from your local coffee shop. A recent article
touts that roasting your own coffee is one of the fastest growing
hobbies in the USA today.
A gift of freshly roasted coffee which you have roasted
yourself is sure to be a hit and amaze the receiver of the hand
made gift. The actual roasting of the coffee beans may be the
easiest and most fun part. The packaging of your thoughtful gift
will be the most challenging as you prepare the package with as
much care as you have roasted the coffee.
Coffee which will be kept for any length of time should be
kept in an airtight container out of sunlight. For the trip from
roasting to the airtight container is where the creation of fun
ideas comes in. Coffee is traditionally shipped in burlap sacks.
You can buy some burlap at a craft store and sew up bags that
will be great for packaging. At the same craft store you can buy
pre-cut stencils with flowers, Lions, Elephants, Crocodiles etc
and stencil your bags with animals, plants or other landmarks
from a country of origin. A Lion on a bag of Kenya or Malawi,
Palm tree from Costa Rica, Coffee cherries from Colombia, etc.
Plain brown bags work well also and can be decorated in many ways
with a coffee theme, re: cups, saucers, coffee pots etc.
Another idea, with the ease in which art can be produced and
printed on stickers with the help of a computer, is to make your
own labels. YOUR NAME's special blend or a blend for an event.
How about a wedding gift with the bride and groom's picture and
call it the "Perfect Blend". The possibilities are endless on how
you can package the coffee you have roasted yourself with your
All that is needed to roast your own coffee beans at home is
green coffee beans, available from a number of sources, an oven,
cookie sheet, oven mitt, metal colander and a wooden spoon.
Preheat your oven to 500F, spread raw beans evenly one layer deep
on a cookie sheet, place on middle rack of preheated oven and
watch them roast. In about 8-10 minutes there will be a crackling
noise and smoke with a coffee essence. At this point the roast
moves quickly and you need to pay close attention. About 2-3
minutes after the crackling, your coffee beans should be at the
shade you like them. Carefully (using the oven mitt) remove the
cookie sheet from the oven and pour the beans into the metal
colander. Stir the beans with the wooden spoon to help cool
quickly. Do this over a sink or outside, as there is chaff that
comes off the beans during roasting. And remember; NEVER leave
your roasting coffee beans unattended.
Almost any appliance used to pop popcorn can be used to roast
coffee beans. The hot air poppers are great, however, you may
want to roast outside or in your garage as they blow the chaff
out and can be messy. There are a number of manufacturers of home
coffee roaster, including several that use a gas grill and
The internet is full of sources to purchase raw beans, but you
want to make sure that the supplier you use knows their beans and
"cups" their coffee before selling it to you. One of the most
reputable sources for green coffee beans is U-Roast-Em, Inc., a
high quality, no frills supplier with 30 years in the industry.
They can be found at www.u-roast-em.com on the web. Many other
sources can be found using your favorite search engine. If you're
interested in using a gas grill to roast your beans, check out
www.rkdrums.com or www.buzzroasters.com. For electric,
countertop-type coffee roasters, visit www.freshbeansinc.com.
Green, raw coffee beans last for years when properly stored.
This allows you to build a collection of fine coffees to choose
from as well as buy larger amounts of the great coffees and save
more money. Keep your bean collection in a cool, dry place out of
any direct sun light and they will last until you roast them. As
coffee ages it loses acidity and becomes more mellow. Many like
the rich mild cup of a coffee that has had a couple years to rest
and mellow. More important than the year of the crop is the
quality of the bean, the preparation at origin, transportation
and warehousing in country of consumption. If all of these things
are done correctly, your green coffee will last for years.
Suppliers who know how to cup samples of coffee beans are able to
determine if all of these criteria are done correctly before they
purchase the beans.
Now all you have to worry about is your friends beating down
your door to get some more of that wonderful coffee you roasted
for them. I guess at that point you just get them started
roasting their own, they'll be forever grateful.
Jim Cameron is a semi retired 30 year veteran of the Specialty
Coffee Industry. His small coffee business now sells only the
finest green coffee beans to the home roasting market at his web
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