Be Your Own Coffee Roaster

Being a home coffee roaster is easier than you think with these easy steps.

| January/February 2013

  • Roasting Coffee
    Roasting coffee at home is as easy as purchasing green coffee beans and a small hot-air popcorn popper.
    Photo By iStockphoto/Dzmitri Mikhalts
  • Coffee Beans
    Coffee beans lose moisture in the roasting process. Four ounces of green coffee beans roasts to about 3.2 ounces.
    Photo By iStockphoto/Kadir Barcin
  • Full City Roasted Coffee Beans
    After 5 to 6 minutes, the beans will emit oils and appear shiny. This is a medium or "full city" roast.
    Photo By iStockphoto/Dan Sam
  • Roasted Coffee Beans 320
    If you roast beans from 320 to 385 degrees F, you'll hear a crackling sound. This is called the "first crack" and is considered a light "city" roast coffee.
    Photo By iStockphoto/Luciano Bibulich

  • Roasting Coffee
  • Coffee Beans
  • Full City Roasted Coffee Beans
  • Roasted Coffee Beans 320

My parents poured boiling water over a heaping teaspoon of shiny brown granules, stirred, and called it coffee. It pried open their eyelids each morning and carried them through the afternoon’s slump. It made me gag.

While in college, I worked as a typesetter for a small publishing company. Printing houses offer an array of aromas all their own, but one smell in particular captivated me forever — the coffee brewing on the break room table. First a sniff, next a sip, and then I was accustomed to having coffee pry my eyes open each morning. I never dreamed it could get better than Maxwell House in my automatic drip coffee pot — until I met Monty.

Monty Ruckman started roasting his own coffee because he wanted to find that perfect taste. When he realized the guys in the office wanted to drink the coffee he roasted and not what was provided in the break room, he started selling blends to his co-workers. Unable to keep up with the demand, he retired from his job, earned a roastmaster certification, and started Cabin Creek Roasters in Edinburg, Virginia.

I met Monty at a local farmers’ market, and after I sampled his iced coffee — the smoothest coffee I’d had in years — we started chatting. Eventually, he offered to show me the art of producing a quality roast each and every time. Always the student, I scurried over to his cabin on the creek, along with my coffee-dependent 17-year-old, and spent three hours roasting beans.



Why roast your own

I may have first tried roasting my own coffee for the fun of it, but I continue roasting for the superb, smooth flavor. The perfect taste, nostalgia, economics and flexibility are additional reasons folks have given me for why they roast their own coffee.

Home roaster Nick Meyer of Harrisonburg, Virginia, says he roasts his own coffee “because it’s better than anything you can buy in the store. That, and I know that what I buy is a fairly traded product.”



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