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Roasting Coffee on the Cheap - Part One

August 02, 2011

In this blog I will try to describe the process and equipment needed for home roasting fresh coffee.  ROASTe does not sell green (raw coffee) beans yet but some of the vendors (Klatch, for example) do offer them.  Although I have used them for green coffee beans in the past, the ones I roasted today come from another source.  The roaster of choice today is the Kitchen Gourmet popcorn popper and the beans are Kenya AA from the Nyeri region.  

The popper is a common find in any thrift store since close to a billion of these are given as Christmas gifts each year. I paid two dollars for mine - ho ho ho, merry X-mas. The plastic lid is still collecting dust back in the bargain bin I suppose since mine came topless but no matter, these will roast fine without the cover.  When sourcing the roaster look for models without a screen in the bottom - a flat metal bottom with side vents is the preferred design. I am not certain the other one with a screen will not work but machines with the side vents are as common a find so I stick to this style.

Be sure to pick up a couple of those metal colanders - ones missing a handle (bad for draining spaghetti noodles but fine for use with hot fresh roasted beans) will set you back half a buck or less but will come in handy cooling the beans by pouring them from one to another for a a bit less than a minute.  Grab a wooden spoon too for stirring and one of those jars with a rubber seal and you are in business for less than five bucks.

When setting up your home roasting station be sure to consider safety - coffee puts off a lot of chaff when the silverskin separates from the bean and these sometimes leave the roaster as a glowing ember - I prefer using the concrete drive in front of my garage since electricity is close and nothing that burns easily is near by.  Keeping an extinguisher close is cheap insurance but a convenient garden hose would work too.  If you watch the process (multi-taskers - you know who you are - stick to ordering the delicious roasted coffee found here on ROASTe for safety's sake) you should be alright. The difference between nice and brown and smoking hot or flaming beans happens pretty quick so staying on point is a must.

In part two I will describe the roasting process - till then go clean out your local thrift so you can play along at home - and remember kids, get mom or dad's permission and help before roasting.  

This photo shows what the Kitchen Gourmet popper looks like: 








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