Adventures in Coffee Bean Roasting

Gone Bad, Projects


Maybe it’s because Laurel has been out of town for two weeks. Maybe it’s because I’m getting bored watching a South Park marathon. Maybe it’s because I’ve been driven crazy by a steady diet of turkey sandwiches with spicy sweet mustard and Giant brand seltzer water. Anyway, today has been a Saturday filled with projects. I saw some coffee on sale at giant last night. It was Fair Trade, Organic, and in a recyclable steel container. So I knew that Laurel would approve on all accounts! What I forgot to notice is that on the outside of the container it said “Unroasted”! So this morning when I opened the can I was surprised to see hundreds of little green coffee beans staring me in the face.

So out of boredom or possibly the desire not to clean the house I decided to see if I could roast the beans myself at home. I googled it and found this page on my first try. It suggested that I could in fact roast them in the oven!

How hard could this be!

Hard! (Or maybe not that hard and I’m just not that good at it)

I jumped head first into the process, hoping that I could be drinking sweet sweet coffee in a matter of minutes. Step 1, Turn the oven to 500 degrees. (The hottest my oven can get BTW) and spread the beans out thin on a cookie sheet. Step 2, Pop them in the oven and hope for the best! The page says that they should take about 20 minutes. Maybe it’s because our crappy oven is electric… but it did not take 20 minutes… Well maybe it did… just not on two places on the cookie sheet. Those spots near the edges were black in about 7 minutes. The page mentioned that there might be a little smoke… this is what we like to call an understatement. In my case at about 10 minutes there was a cute little wisp of smoke coming out of the oven. I took a picture. So in my confidence that everything was going well I started doing other things around the house. What seemed like a couple minutes later I looked back at the oven. A thick column of smoke was pouring our of the oven! Smoke so thick I might have been burning down the house thick. So then, my fight or don’t burn down the house response turns on. Seconds later I’m in full on “Benny Hill / Three Stooges” mode with me running around opening windows and trying to pull out the cookie sheet with a hot pad while being blasted in the face by hot smoke and then blindly trying not to melt my hands on a 500 degree cookie sheet.

Thick smoke was filling the house. I noticed that it was filling all of the other rooms “some smoke that must be ventilated” my ass. I put the box fan in the window to get it out faster. I tried to get a picture of the smoke pouring out of the windows. I made sure to be calm while doing this so my neighbors wouldn’t call the fire department on me. It’s one thing to be sharing your embarrassing story on the internet and another to be talking to the fire department because you can’t figure out the right temperature to roast your coffee beans at.

The next step is removing the chaff. You have to sift the beans from one colander (or other metal container) to another while blowing away the thin husks of the beans. After the coffee smoke monster incident this was a welcome zen like escape. There was a little bit of a breeze that made the process easier too. I kept thinking of the moment from Bill and Ted’s when they qoute Kansas to Socrates. “All we are is dust in the wind”. This is pretty much the last step. You’re supposed to put it in a metal container and wait 24 hours for the flavor to develop… but I wanted coffee now!

So what’s the verdict for my home roasted coffee? Well it tastes like coffee. And it seemed to wake me up. but that could have been all the running around and the slight lack of oxygen from the smoke inhalation. But there are some cons to the process. I think if I do it again (and I’ll have to because I bought 4 cans of the coffee beans) I will make some kind of rigged up coffee roaster also I would at least check on the beans during the process. the second batch of beans I did I used less of them, moved the sheet closer to the middle, and moved them around at least once. They came out a little better, some of them were still a little dark. Also with this amount of smoke I think I need to clean out the oven.

and everything in the house smells like a combination of coffee and burnt popcorn.

Pictures of the Process.

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