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You don't need a fancy, dedicated machine to roast your own coffee at home. All you really need is a heat source that will reach at least 370 F. Many DIY coffee roasters take pride in the Frankenstein coffee roasting contraptions they build or modify, but you don't need to solder or modify anything to do a creditable job of roasting your own java. These basic household gadgets will produce excellent roast coffee with no modification at all.
Electric Air Poppers
Choose an air popcorn popper with air vents in the side of the popping chamber rather than the kind with a mesh grille in the base. Place green coffee beans in the popping chamber and run the popper until coffee reaches the desired roast level.
Stove Top Popcorn Poppers
Follow the directions used to make popcorn in a stove top paddle popcorn popper.
Spread the beans in a single layer in the bottom of a flat roasting pan or cookie sheet and heat them in a 500 F oven until they reach the desired color.
Stove Top Roasting
Roast coffee in a heavy frying pan or Dutch oven that heats evenly. Stir constantly over a medium flame until the coffee beans reach the desired roast level.
Heat Gun and Metal Bowl
Put coffee beans in a heavy metal dog bowl and direct the hot air from a heat gun at them until they're done.
For all methods:
Remove the beans from the heat source when they reach the desired roast level and dump them into a metal colander or strainer. Pour the hot coffee beans back and forth between two colanders, strainers or bowls to hasten cooling.
Choosing an air popper with the right design is important if you want to use it to roast coffee safely and efficiently at home.
The single most important element to consider when choosing a popcorn popper to roast coffee is the venting system. Look inside the popping chamber. If you see an aluminum mesh screen at the bottom or sides, look for another popper. Chaff from the coffee beans can drop through the screen and pose a fire hazard.
Instead, look for a popper that blows hot air into the popping chamber through side vents. In addition to being safer, the blowing will keep the coffee beans in motion and contribute to a more even roast.
Sweet Maria's, one of the best known and most respected online suppliers of green coffee beans and home coffee roasting supplies, maintains a list of suitable air poppers at http://www.sweetmarias.com/airpop/airpopmethod.php. Other poppers may work as well, but these have been tested and recommended by Sweet Maria's users.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|