Tischröster von Hario
#Coffee Knowledge

How Doable is DIY Roasting?

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A contribution from Leo in the category #Coffee Knowledge from 17 August 2020

Coffee roasting in Germany is not a teachable trade, but it must be learned nonetheless. Recently I’ve helped in the roasting and found that above all, roasting is an art. I wanted to know if it could be done at home too, and came across the 5 most common methods.

Our roast maestro and coffee expert Hannes Fendrich began his coffee career at home: From the simple frying pan to the 500 € expensive home roaster. With books and Internet forums you can learn the basics of the coffee estates and even try it yourself. You can buy raw coffee online in various shops to get started but it must be said: It ain’t easy. However, you’d be surprised what can be accomplished with with a drill, a grill, and a little elbow grease.

The Pan

Pour beans on pan, add heat, stir properly, enjoy! If only it were that simple. I mean these are the basic steps but integral to this method even if you have the well-trained arm to continuously stir the beans is an infrared thermometer for constant temperature monitoring and some expertly refined taste buds. Though this method can work for some, the beans risk being too unevenly roasted, burnt, completely unroasted, or partially roasted, or some unfortunate combination of all of the above.

WARNING: This method has its hazards. Newly formed gasses in the beans create pressure in the beans which affects the cell walls and makes them more porous. What the roast master refers to as ‘cracks’, or the bursting of the coffee bean. In fact, a ‘cracked’ or hot bean can take flight just like a kernel of popcorn (which we’ll get to later) and an airborne 200 °C bean is no laughing matter, especially if taken in the eye. The odors can be a little overpowering too so if your roommate or neighbours are unsympathetic to your DIY spirit then this might not be the method for you.

Conclusion: Fun to try out (and go full Hazmat with protective suit, goggles and ventilation system), but truly good results don’t come easy in the pan.

The Oven

Preheat the oven to 200°C, get some air going in there, lay some raw green coffee on the baking tray, close the door. Surprisingly, with that circulating air in there the coffee is rather evenly roasted, but without a constant stirring mechanism some quality is lost here. After 10 – 20 minutes, the coffee is technically ready. Now just put the roasted coffee into a sieve and let it cool as soon as possible. One should take care that the beans are „washed“ beforehand, to cut down on the cuticles. Otherwise these will fly through the whole oven during the roasting process and you’ll be left with some cleaning to do.

Conclusion: With some practice, better results can be achieved with the oven. Try these methods below!

The Bread Maker

Yes, you read that right. Just try to imagine a really sleepy MacGyver hacking his breadmaker to roast coffee. This simple and popular method is called ‘Dogbowl Roasting’, meaning, quite literally, roasting in a dog’s bowl. For this, it requires only one (metal) dog bowl and one hot air gun. The same method can be adapted and simplified with a bread maker. The raw coffee is stirred by the kneading hooks and it’s all heated with a heat gun from above. The temperature can be easily controlled with an infrared thermometer and with a little patience and practice some really amazing results can be achieved.

Conclusion: The heat gun is a very popular device for roasting coffee. Here are some of the craziest installations we came across. From the bread maker to the drill roasting drum… The home-roasting scene doesn’t lack creativity!

The Popcorn Machine

When in comes to roasting, coffee and popcorn come down to the same principles. The popcorn machine combines the heat gun and the bread baking machines. The costs are kept within reason. With a little fine tuning, the popcorn machine can be transformed into a home coffee roaster and the temperature can also be monitored with a thermometer.

Conclusion: The popcorn machine is a good device to roast small quantities of coffee at home (best outside). Hannes also experimented with a popcorn machine at the beginning… so even masters start out small!

The Home Roaster

There are plenty of small home-roasting machines in the range of 200 € and upwards. Whether the small manual roaster of Hario or, for example, the semi-professional selection of Gene roasters in the upper price range. Small quantities can also be produced with small coffee roasters at home.

Conclusion: If you’re keen on investing in home roasting, some small ready-made roasting machines are available before the popcorn machine is converted.

Overall

Any good roast master needs a measure of intuition, experience, and above all, passion. S/he has to decide when the roasting should be interrupted, how the coffee should taste in the end, and after various cuppings and attempts, the roast curve for each coffee is finally determined and constantly optimized. The result can be influenced by temperature, air, speed or duration. And we’re talking about a few seconds and the smallest temperature deviations in order to tickle even the last flavors from the coffee. In addition, a roasting master is also an explorer. The roast master is always on the lookout for coffee and doesn’t buy just any green coffee over the Internet. The coffee bean is still the one responsible for the quality and the taste so it takes the right bean to make the right roast.

DIY home roasting it is possible at home. But tastes can vary and you’ll notice very quickly that it is not easy – but it can be fun! The home-roasting scene is growing and there are always new coffee-roasting machines on the market. Don’t forget, it’s a patience game: you need to let the beans sit for two to three days before they make it into your cup as a drink. We’re extra fussy about our beans, so we use aroma vents in our packaging so the CO2 can escape and no oxygen can enter.

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