Is Roasting Coffee Hard? (At Home)

We’ve tried roasting coffee at home with mixed success. It’s a bit of an art form if you want to get it right, but that doesn’t mean it’s too difficult to try.

So what steps should you take to roast coffee beans at home and get great-tasting coffee?

To roast coffee beans at home without a professional roasting machine, you can use either the pan or oven roasting method. For both, you’ll need green coffee beans, thick oven mitts, and good ventilation.

Join me as we discover the (relatively) straightforward instructions you need to follow in order to roast beans at home for a full-flavored cup of coffee…

Is Roasting Coffee Hard

Is It Difficult to Roast Coffee?

It’s surprisingly easy to roast your own coffee at home using green coffee beans provided you follow the specific steps properly, but it can take a few attempts before you’re happy with the results.

If you want to make it a really easy job, you can buy a special home coffee roasting machine.

Got an old popcorn machine at the back of the cupboard? This makes a pretty good alternative to a proper roasting machine (although this must be a side-heating popcorn machine not a base-heating machine, and even this may burn out after a while).

You can also roast your green coffee beans in the oven or in a pan.

These methods can be a bit trickier than using a machine (and considerably smokier so keep those windows open), but you won’t need to invest in any new equipment. We’ll take a look at these two methods now.

How Do You Roast Coffee? (For Beginners)

How do you roast coffee at home without using a machine? You have two options: in a pan or in the oven.

For both methods, you’ll need green coffee beans, thick oven mitts, and good ventilation. Here’s what you do.

Pan Coffee Bean Roasting Method

  • Heat a thick-based pan to around 450 degrees Fahrenheit (use a cast iron or steel pan, never a coated or non-stick pan)
  • Add a shallow layer of green beans to the pan
  • Stir constantly, to prevent burning
  • After about 5 minutes, you’ll hear the beans start to crack. This means you now have light-roasted beans. You can stop now if you like
  • After another few minutes, you’ll hear a second crack, which gives you a darker roast
  • Pour the (very hot) means into a metal colander and leave them to cool. 
  • Shaking the colander will help remove the “chaff”, the messy husks
  • Wait at least 12 hours before storing your roasted beans in a sealed container. This is so the “degassing” process can happen. There’s a lot of CO2 in these beans that needs to de-gas, otherwise your coffee won’t taste as good, and the lid may be blown off your container!

You can see the process in action, in this short film about pan roasting green coffee beans.

Oven Coffee Bean Roasting Method

  • Preheat your oven to around 500 degrees
  • Add a shallow layer of beans onto a perforated baking tray, and place in the middle shelf of the oven
  • As with the pan method, you’ll need to listen out for the first and second cracks
  • Take out the tray using the oven mitts, and pour the beans into the metal colander. De-chaff and de-gas as above

How Long Should Roasting Coffee Take?

Roasting coffee at home is surprisingly quick, after you’ve heated the pan or oven to a high temperature. You should be hearing that first crack after four or five minutes of roasting.

Is It Better to Roast Coffee Fast or Slow?

Fast roasting will give you a lovely concentrated flavor, but there is more of a risk of the beans burning and being ruined. A slow roast brew will have a more mellow flavor. 

We’d suggest that you try a few batches and see which tastes you prefer. Keep a roasting diary to record your times and tasting notes.

What Happens if You Roast Coffee Too Long?

What happens when you roast anything for too long? It becomes overcooked and takes on a burnt flavor. 

However, it’s quite tricky to over-roast your beans, simply because it’s one of those processes that you have to oversee: you don’t wander off while the beans are in the pan or oven.

You’ll hear those cracks, and know when to stop the roasting process.

Burned the beans? Don’t waste them! Here’s our guide to using up burnt coffee beans.

Is It Cheaper to Roast Your Own Coffee Beans?

Green coffee beans are 50-75% cheaper than roasted beans. They also keep for longer in your cupboard so you can buy them in bulk.

Of course, you will incur energy costs, but as the process is pretty fast, roasting shouldn’t add too much into your energy bills.

Can You Drink Coffee Immediately After Roasting?

You need to leave your roasted beans for at least 12 hours to de-gas. Roasted beans contain a lot of CO2, and this needs to dissipate before you can store or use your beans.

Does Roasting Destroy Caffeine?

No, roasting doesn’t destroy the caffeine content in the beans. This naturally occurring chemical is extremely stable. If caffeine were destroyed by heat, all roasts would be decaf!

A Home Coffee Roasting Machine
A Home Coffee Roasting Machine

Is Roasted Coffee Healthy?

Coffee has several health benefits. It contains antioxidants, which help to protect our bodies from disease.

Coffee is also a source of magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, and several B vitamins (this is why it’s also good for our gardens!).

Of course, by the time you’ve loaded it with cream and sugary syrups, you’ve kind of canceled out some of the health benefits; however, it remains that caffeine is a great source of antioxidants.

How Long Does Roasted Coffee Stay Fresh?

Opinions vary on this; however, we’d suggest keeping your beans for no longer than two weeks after roasting them.

Wait until they’ve de-gassed, then keep them in a sealed container at room temperature. Choose an opaque container, as coffee beans can degrade if exposed to light.

You can also freeze the roasted coffee beans, which keeps them fresh for about a month. Freeze the beans in small portions in zipper bags.

You’ll need to defrost them thoroughly before making your coffee, and store the defrosted beans in an airtight container. It’s probably easier just to roast in small batches, to be honest.

How Long Do Unroasted Coffee Beans Last?

Green coffee beans generally keep for at least one year, maybe even two years if stored in good quality, airtight packaging. 

This is why roasting your own coffee at home is such a good idea. You can buy the green coffee beans in bulk; and provided they’re kept sealed and housed in a cool, dry, and dark place, they will last for ages.