I’ve been thinking about roasting my own coffee beans at home for a long time–ever since Cathy (CATRAY44 on the forum) posted about it on the Chickens in the Road forum last year. Several months ago, CindyP posted about it on Farm Bell Recipes. CindyP even gave me some organic Arabica green coffee beans to get me started, but I always have about twenty new things I want to try so I don’t get to things right away. Recently when I started making homemade vanilla Frappuccinos for Morgan at an alarming daily rate (recipe here), I realized she was going to drink me out of house and home if I kept buying her that expensive vanilla-flavored ground coffee at the store.
I knew how to roast the coffee beans–I had Cathy’s and Cindy’s help! I just had to figure out how to get the vanilla part in there. I dragged out my green (aka raw) coffee beans and got to work. Luckily, green coffee beans store well for a long time. In fact, coffee beans stay quite fresh until they’re roasted. After roasting, coffee beans start losing freshness. This is one of the best reasons for roasting your own. Fresher coffee. It’s also less expensive. (Especially if you’re talking about the specialty flavored coffees.)
And it’ll also make you feel like a pioneer, because this is how our great-grandmas did it.
If you’ve never roasted your own coffee beans, it’s easy. You can buy green coffee beans all over the internet (just hit a search engine with “green coffee beans”)–but the least expensive I’ve seen are on ebay. (I also buy my bulk vanilla beans on ebay.) Once you’ve got your beans, all you need is an iron skillet and about half an hour.
I used a pound of green coffee beans in a 9-inch iron skillet. Heat the skillet to around medium–this will depend on your stovetop, so you may have to experiment a bit. You should get to first crack in about 5-10 minutes. Start on medium-low. If it’s taking forever to happen, turn it up.
Heat the skillet first then pour your coffee beans in there.
Stir constantly–you don’t want to burn the beans. You’ll see the “chaff” start to release from the beans.
When you start hearing a popping sound, you’re at what’s called first crack. The beans are expanding in size and giving off heat, causing them to crack. The beans will be changing from green to a light brown.
Depending on what level of roast you prefer, you might want to stop here, at a light roast. If you prefer a deeper roast, keep going. A few more minutes will give you a medium roast. Be sure to continue stirring constantly. A second round of cracking (“second crack”) will occur–at this point, you’re reaching a full roast. Go even longer for a “double” or “French” roast. It all depends on how intense you like the flavor in your coffee. I stopped right at second crack.
Let the coffee beans cool a bit after you turn off the heat. Keep stirring a few more minutes as the pan–and the beans–are still hot then pour the beans into a colander. I tried using a smaller colander then switched to a big one so it was easier to shake vigorously without worrying about the beans falling out.
Take the colander outside and shake out the chaff. This takes a few minutes and it’s the only annoying part of the process. I would pay a five-year-old a quarter to shake the chaff off for me if I could find one. That’s probably what they did in the old days. Minus the quarter.
Back inside, store the coffee beans in a jar, without a lid, in a cool, dark spot. Wait 10 hours as the beans are continuing to release carbon dioxide–then close tightly with a lid. Your coffee beans are ready for the grinder!
But wait!!! What about the vanilla?
This process is similar to making vanilla sugar. You can infuse the scent and flavor of vanilla into your coffee beans by storing the roasted coffee beans with vanilla beans! Simply split the vanilla beans to release the scent and flavor and close them in with the roasted coffee beans.
Wait at least 24 hours (after putting on the lid) before making your first grind to give time for the vanilla to infuse the coffee beans. I use six split vanilla beans in my jar of roasted coffee beans. (Use more or less, up to you.) As when making homemade vanilla, the vanilla beans will give off flavor for a long time. Just keep adding new roasted coffee beans, replacing the vanilla beans when you notice the flavor starting to drop.
And wait, there’s more! You can do the same thing with whole nutmeg, whole allspice, cocoa beans, cinnamon sticks, and so on, to make whatever flavored coffee you like. The longer you infuse the beans with the spice, the stronger the flavor will become. You can also combine spices to make your own unique coffees.
Now Morgan’s homemade vanilla Frappuccinos are even more homemade. Milk from my cow and home roasted vanilla coffee. Next thing you know, I’ll be growing the coffee beans myself!
Morgan: “You’re so insane.”
But she always says that, so don’t pay any attention to her. She loves her homemade vanilla Frappuccinos. Go roast some coffee!
For more info:
Cathy’s home roasting instructions at Farm Bell Recipes (with handy print page): Home Roasted Coffee
CindyP’s post on the Farm Bell Recipes blog: Create Your Own Coffee Boost