Home coffee roasting is as fun and easy (or as exacting and technical), as you want to make it. You can roast in your oven, use a skillet, re-purpose a popcorn popper or buy a fancy coffee roasting appliance. Whatever method you use, you will be on your way to drinking much better coffee.
The basic process is simple: use heat to turn green unroasted coffee into brown roasted coffee. Roasting times vary, depending on the method and batch size but you can expect the process to last about 10 minutes for smaller batches and about 16 minutes for larger batches.
There are many ways to roast coffee. The method you choose should be influenced by how much roasted coffee you need and how much money you want to spend. Whether you choose a D.I.Y. approach or a small appliance matters depends mostly on how you like to approach things, and if you want more or less automation.
The D.I.Y. approach is a great way to get started, especially if you can re-purpose an electric hot air Popcorn Popper that you have in a cupboard, or can find second-hand. You can even find them cheaply in a hardware store, Target or Wal-Mart usually. You can also use a skillet, a stovetop popper, or a cookie sheet in the oven. These latter methods roast less evenly and require some technique to get good results, that is why we recommend the air popper method.
Home Coffee Roasting Appliances
An appliance gives you a built-in timer, a way to collect chaff, and (depending on the model) some control over the temperature and air flow. Some models have smoke suppression. Air roasters take less than 10 minutes, roast very evenly without scorching, and are better for small amounts of coffee. The advantages of drum roasting are a larger batch size and an even roast, but these machines require more attention and generate more smoke.
See our Home Roasting FAQ for more help finding the right roaster for you.
We suggest the 4 lb. or 8lb. Sampler as a starting place. We select coffees that help you learn the major differences in flavor between regions and provide a relatively even roast. From there, browse our region information and coffee offerings to narrow down which coffees you'd like to try next. If you need more help, our Green Coffee FAQ will help take the mystery out of selecting.
Understanding the different stages of the roast will help you control the flavor of your cup and appreciate how different roasts result in different cup flavors.