I'll admit it. My hubby and I are coffee snobs. We love a good cup of coffee. In fact, we would rather not drink coffee than drink poor quality coffee.
But I'll make another confession- we're living on a budget, a strict budget. Let's face it, your best brands are NOT cheap.
So after a lot of research, we discovered roasting coffee on our own.
Now, before I go into all it takes to roast your own coffee, let me make a comment on caffeine. My husband and I are not heavy coffee drinkers. At most we have a cup to two a day...however, if you are not a moderate coffee drinker than I wouldn't suggest this for you (why tempt yourself). As most of us know, excessive amounts of caffeine are not good for you. But that said, there are benefits to drinking moderate amounts of caffeine and coffee in particular (some benefits come even with decaf coffee). You can review some of this here and here.
Back to roasting! The first thing you'll need is green coffee beans. This is how we save money on good coffee. If you buy unroasted beans in bulk online, you'll find the price per pound to be around $4-5. That is amazing for good quality coffee.
We buy our coffee from Sweet Maria's. I love them! They are an American company that excels in selecting great coffee beans and providing great support for their clients. In fact, I used their original youtube videos to learn about coffee roasting.
An added bonus, all of Sweet Maria's products are purchased at fair trade or farmer's gate prices. Farmer's gate just means they bought the beans at fair trade values, but they purchased them from a farmer and not a co-op. Either way, you can guarantee that your coffee is bought at a living wage.
Green beans store for a long period of time. From the seller, you typically can store the beans in a cool dry place for up to 9 months without any change in quality. They'll keep longer than that, but you might have some quality changes after 9 months.
When you're ready to roast, you have a lot of options. You can purchase a home roaster- but that's too pricey for us. You can oven or stove roast- but the consistency can be hard to obtain. What you'll find is most roasters will recommend- Air Poppers!
That's right your common Air Popcorn Popper, produces an excellent quality and consistent cup of coffee.
Now, not just any air popper will work. You need one that looks like this on the inside.
The side vents allow the beans to get hot, without allowing the oil secreted from the beans to getting to the heat source. If you have a popper with the grate on the bottom, the oil and other fragments can get into the heat source, resulting in a FIRE HAZARD. So check that popper before you buy. We use the CVS brand of air popper. It works great.
With the right popper, add 1/3 a cup of green beans to your popcorn popper. Turn it on.
I like to stir mine in the beginning , until it looses enough water weight to move on it's own. But you don't necessarily have to do this.
You'll notice the beans slowly yellowing and the smell is something like baking bread at this point.
The chaff will fly up. This is just the casing of the bean and is harmless, though a bit messy. You don't have to pick it out either. It doesn't effect the taste of the coffee at all. I keep a colander in front of the popper with a wet cloth. It catches the chaff and keeps it from flying all over the place.
After about 1 minute 30 seconds, you'll enter first crack. It sounds like popcorn popping. This is when the internal structure of the bean is breaking up and the oils are being released. That's what gives coffee it's great taste! You'll notice the smell is changing into a more coffee like scent.
Once first crack has past, you officially have coffee. How far you go from here depends on the bean and the type of roast you want. My hubby is a dark roast man. I follow the recommendation of Sweet Maria's and go to the darkest that particular bean is best at.
This usually means I go to the second crack and stop it right when it starts. While first crack sounds like popcorn, second crack is quieter and is more like paper crackling. Don't let it go too far. Soon after second crack is over you get ash. Yuck!
Turn off your popcorn popper and using oven mitts dump into a colander. I shake my beans, this helps cool them off quickly. Lay them out on a cookie sheet and allow to cool.
Mark and store in a glass jar when completely cool. I like canning jars. I don't screw it down all the way at first. What is happening is the beans are degassing, releasing CO2. This will build up pressure if you screw it down all the way. Leave it that way for several hours and then secure and put in a dark place. Light and oxygen is what causes your coffee to go stale.
Since the coffee is so fresh the taste you get at 4, 8, 12, 24, 48, and even 72 hours after roasting will be totally different. Most coffees peak at about 48 hours. But they are still wonderful later on. I'll give you an good example. Starbucks has the goal of roasting the coffee and getting it to you within 2 weeks. Even with the best packaging the coffee is losing flavor. So at four days out, your cup of coffee is fresher and more amazing than then gold standard of coffee in the store.
You'll notice the amazing taste immediately...but be warned. You might end up like me and the hubby- Professed Coffee Snobs.
Next week- Brewing Coffee with reusable filters and the best extraction!
This post is part of Frugally Sustainable Ways #17.