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Roasting Coffee Beans in the Blacksmith Shop: Sweet Success

A photo from Flat Creek FarmIf you would like the whole scoop of our initial attempt at roasting coffee beans and the things we’ve learned thus far, please see our previous GRIT Blog post: “Roasting Coffee Beans in the Blacksmith Shop: Take 1.”

Before we proceed any further, would you like to see what green coffee beans look like? As for smell, don’t expect much at this point.

Green Colombian Supremo Coffee Beans prior to roasting.

I was the only brave soul who would taste the results of our first roasting attempt. Let me just say it was a very quick taste, followed by my spitting the burnt offering sip out the back door. Not pleasant! The first batch was a definite …

Our first roast resulted in a burnt offering.

We were not discouraged, and promptly returned to the Blacksmith Shop, armed with our main supply list from the first roast.

Flat Creek Forge Blacksmith Shop

The key modification for Roast #2: Mr. W placed a steel plate over the fish cooker burner for the purpose of diffusing the heat and therefore roasting the beans slower. Just a plate of 3/16” steel.  Excellent idea! I’m told you can also use a cast iron pan for that purpose. We roasted two batches – again using the Colombian Supremo green coffee beans from Coffee Bean Direct (via Amazon). And again we used our Whirley Pop. There was a little smoking involved, but it wasn’t unpleasant (like before). We’ve learned that we may have to ignore the thermometer a bit as “first crack” seemed to arrive at 250 degrees F or so (if we wanted to believe that thermometer).  Also, by the end of the roast, we had barely reached 400 degrees F.  We can now understand that it’s probably best to learn to judge the beans on smell and appearance, as well as listening for those 1st & 2nd cracks.

The best part this time was that we were able to actually see the beans while they were roasting. With our maiden roast, the beans were smoking too badly and we couldn’t see them when we opened the lid.  All we could do was cough and gag! This time we could actually check every 3-4 minutes (or more often toward the end) and see that the beans were progressing from green, to the various stages of brown. Amazing! The smell wasn’t nearly as bad this time. Let me emphasize this – we could actually breathe in the Roasting Room (aka Blacksmith Shop).

We did two roasts this time. Each one took approximately 15 minutes. We kept the heat on high, but with the diffusion from the steel plate, the roasting process was slow and nice.  And, I assure you, these roasted beans smell yummy! Definitely not burnt offerings. Here are the successfully roasted beans, in all their glory:

Delectable-smelling fresh roasted coffee beans

After the beans had a chance to de-gas a few hours, I placed a few scoops in our Melitta Mill and Brew pot. The time was set for 5:10 a.m. the following morning, and we were awakened with ...

... the wonderful aroma of fresh ground, fresh roasted coffee. The taste? Delicious. I think at this point we’re hooked.

If you’d like a synopsis of why people roast their own coffee beans, check out Wikipedia’s home roasting coffee explanation.

Once you smell and taste your first successful coffee bean roast, I am confident that you will need no explanation. Simply divine!

nebraska dave
3/1/2010 5:23:04 PM

Tammy, I’m so glad that your second try at roasting coffee beans has been a success. I’m just fresh back from a road trip through Central America and to say the least it was so nice to get home and have a good cup of coffee. Most places there have instant coffee and they just assume you want two shovels of sugar in the teeny tiny cup. Yuck!! I still think you are out on the edge of pioneering with roasting your own coffee beans. As for me, I think I’ll just stick to grinding the already roasted beans. Coffee is truly one of my pleasures in life. The discussion about whether caffeine is good or bad seems to swing in the wind. I don’t think anyone really knows for sure. All I know is that it’s a good way to start the day, a good way to end the day, and a good way to enjoy the day in between the beginning and ending. And besides there’s no better way to enjoy sitting out on the poor man’s patio and watching the neighborhood activity, then with a cup of coffee. In fact I think I’ll do that right now. It’s all the way up to 38 degrees with sunshine. We here in Nebraska haven’t seen a temperature above 40 since the end of November. It’s funny how our perspective on things can change. Last November 40 was cold and now at 38 we think it’s almost time to pull out the shorts. Thanks so much for sharing your coffee stories.

2/24/2010 5:45:35 PM

Hi Tammy, Roasting coffee beans is something I have thought about, including how would coffee beans grow in this part of Georgia. I like that you didn't give up and tried again. We do a lot of that..try again. Have a great day. Gafarmwoman Pam

cindy murphy
2/23/2010 1:38:08 PM

Oh, Tammy - I wish you lived next door to me so I could smell that aroma of your coffee beans roasting. Coffee is such a huge part of my social life. There are my "Coffee Buddies" - we meet once a week for our hours-long 'chats' over coffee. Another friend and I make it a point to meet once a month for coffee - if we don't schedule it, it'll be months before I see her because our family and work schedules never seem to coincide. Then there's evenings with our best friends where there's always a pot brewing throughout the evening, and into the night. How very cool it would be to serve up steamy mugs at these gatherings, brewed from beans I roasted myself.

oz girl
2/23/2010 8:41:18 AM

Ok, Tammy, I know I said that you were wayyyy more adventurous than I, and I would probably never try to roast my own coffee beans, but now you've inspired me to add it to my bucket list. :-) I can't imagine how good that coffee must have tasted to you the next morning.... probably heavenly!!

mountain woman
2/22/2010 3:44:12 PM

Hi Tammy, I'm really enjoying this series because I love coffee. It's really interesting and the pictures are great. And oh my goodness, you had wonderful smelling coffee and a great cup of coffee in the morning and you know you did it yourself. What more could you ask for. You've definitely inspired me!!!