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Roasting Your Own Coffee Beans

Fresh coffee
(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
I know it sounds pretentious, but its not. I have been a big fan of coffee for years; not flavored coffees, not mocha frappacinos, but regular, black, good coffee. About 20 years ago, Consumer Reports recommended grinding your beans immediately before brewing; I tried it and couldn’t believe the difference.

Well, there’s a similar difference between beans roasted long ago and freshly roasted ones. I used to live by a grocery store that roasted their own coffee beans and got hooked on it. If you’re drinking coffee made from ground coffee you bought at a grocery store, you’re drinking coffee that was ground months ago and roasted even farther back. Since I moved, I’ve been looking for a grocery store like that one for awhile now. I couldn’t find one, so I went on the internet for help.

I came across several sites that taught you how to roast green coffee beans at home, so I finally decided to try it. I bought a coffee roaster (about $150) from Amazon.com and ordered green coffee beans (one pound Colombian and one pound Hawaiian) from Burman coffee; one was $6 a pound, the other around $ 8.50. The roaster itself was more or less a hot air popcorn popper with a trap to catch the chaff; there are plenty of sites that will show you how to use a popcorn popper to roast coffee beans. The roaster has a heated chamber with a fan beneath to circulate the beans and a grate in the lid to capture the lighter chaff that wafts up. Its not big enough to roast the whole pound and I had read that roasting in smaller batches gave more even results, so I did about 1/3 cup at a time.

The first batch wasn’t roasted nearly enough (I was afraid of over-roasting or burning the beans), but after that they turned out fine. It was tough waiting the 12 hours they recommend for the beans to dry (oils come to the surface when roasted), but once they were dry, we ground them and made a terrific pot of coffee. At roughly six bucks a pound for the Colombian and $8.50 for the Hawaiian, even with shipping and the cost of the roaster, I feel like I’m getting a superior product at a lower price when compared to grocery store coffee.

If you’re interested or just want to learn more, you can start at burmancoffee.com or sweetmarias.com.

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