Coffee Roasting at Home
My husband has gradually become very serious about his morning coffee and would like to start roasting his own coffee beans. I have looked online a bit for home coffee roasters and was hoping I could get some advice and recommendations on good home coffee roasters. Does anybody have a model that they have been happy with and is still on the market? For a price point, from what I have seen, roasters can range anywhere from $70 to $500. Obvioulsy I would prefer to get something in the lower end of that range but don't want to sacrifice quality just because the price is right. Also, I am somewhat worried about the smoke factor. We live in an apartment so I am hoping to find a machine that wouldn't cause my husband to set off the smoke alarm every morning.
Sweetmarias.com is the first place to look and get a lot of information. I started with a Fresh Roast roaster. It is basically an air popcorn popper that has been modified to be a coffee roaster. Many people just use an air popper. Air roasting roasts fast and the coffee is bright in flavor. The I-roast is a more programmable roaster. The Gene is a kind of mix between air and drum. There are drum roasters you can put on your BBQ grill. There are many creative ways to apply heat to the beans. Heat gun users have their following. I started out with the FR roaster and then tried the heat gun and from there moved into a home made roaster called a stir crazy/turbo or convection oven combo. It uses a stir crazy popcorn maker as a base to stir the beans and the heat comes from the turbo oven. I've been using this for a few years and I'm very satisfied. This can be made for around $100. Warning. Once you start drinking fresh roasted coffee you will never go back unless you have a roaster in your area that is selling truly fresh beans.
Here's a couple of links to Chow articles. One has a clip showing an inexpensive hot air popcorn popper being used to roast coffee - a lot of folks think that it does a great job.
This has the clip:
I have read several articles that said that it's best to rest the beans after roasting - even up to a day. So the idea of waking up, roasting, grinding, then making coffee may not yield the best possible coffee. Perhaps roast the night before, or do a batch every few days (when you can turn the smoke alarms off).
That's correct. The coffee will go through changes over the first week. It off gases CO2 for up to a week. I find many beans improve after a couple of days rest. I tend to roast enough for the week. I do know people that roast every other day and claim the coffee loses it's freshness after more than a couple of days. I don't believe this is true in most cases. For espresso it's best to wait a few days while the flavors mature. There is also less bloom or foaming from the release of CO2 when brewing. If you use a french press you will see this exceptional bloom. A few reports of overflowing drip baskets from excessive bloom. Coffee roasting is easy, cheap and a rewarding hobby. Most people I know that roast, travel with their coffee and paraphernalia since it is so hard to drink the dreck that we once thought of as good coffee. I know I do.