Many of you may know that we roast some of our own coffee in the shop, but believe it or not, its really not very difficult or expensive to start roasting coffee yourself at home! All you really need is an air popcorn popper and some green beans. Popcorn poppers make great roasters if you only need to roast very small batches. The hot air whirlwind produced by poppers keep the roast even and swift. Firstly, find a spot you don't mind getting a little messy, and has very good ventilation ie. outside or under a kitchen hood. To start, turn on the popper, and add green beans into the cylindrical chamber (We have some green beans you can buy from us, and soon we'll have several hundred pounds more and a greater selection.). Be careful not to add to many beans or the cyclone will slow, resulting in a more uneven roast. Within minutes you will see the beans begin to turn tan and brown. While beans roast, they shed their thin outer covering, this is referred to as chaff. Conveniently, because the chaff is so light, the air popper separates it from the beans as it flies out the top of the popper (this is the messy part). As you wait, you should hear the beans undergo one or two "cracks". Like popcorn, all the beans don't make the cracking sounds at the same time. However, their are definite sets of cracks corresponding to roast degrees. You will want to stop roasting your coffee somewhere between the beginning of the first crack and a little after the second crack (depending on what roast degree you prefer) . If you hit the third crack I recommend tossing the beans and trying again; as the brew will be very carbony; like brewed ashes.
When you stop the machine, immediately pour the beans into a metal container in which you can shake and toss the beans to cool them. Be very careful at this stage because the beans will be extremely hot. After the beans are cool, you may brew and/or store them. Some air popcorn poppers are more suited to coffee roasting than others. You may run into a popper that has to short of a roasting chamber to work. As the beans roast, they loose a significant amount of their weight (primarily water). So the heavier unroasted beans swirl at the bottom of the chamber while dark roasting beans swirl much higher. Some poppers are to short to accommodate darker roasts. Thus at a certain roast degree, the beans are flung out of the chamber like the chaff was. Sometimes that can be convenient, usually it is not. So with very little investment you can actually roast your own coffee! Getting an incredibly fresh cup while growing in appreciation of the art and science of roasting. As a sidenote, there are also products built for home roasting, but most are little more than an popcorn popper slightly altered for roasting with a much bigger price tag. Happy roasting.