*The fine print up front: There will be a small amount of smoke if you roast at a high heat for long periods of time, so have a window open, or the extractor fan on, or both, or alternatively, turn the heat down slightly.
Roasting coffee beans can be done in multiple ways, from electric stove top, to gas or wood fired braai, in the oven or even in a popcorn machine. The ideal hardware in our opinion would be a rough finish flat based cast iron pot, as they retain their heat well and aid in shedding the skins from the beans, however frankly, any pot, pan or wok will do., and then roasted where you are comfortable.so if you normally braai, then roast on the braai, if you normally cook on the stove, then roast on the stove. Hardware for oven roasting varies slightly as you would need something that is perforated, like a vegetable steamer (the one with the 'leaves' that fold down).
- Whatever you do, DO NOT add any oils or spray and cook etc. to your pan. This is a dry roast.
- Whether you are roasting in the oven, on the stove or the braai, you will need to stay close to your beans.
Stove top or braai roasting
The more you roast, the more cues you'll pick up. Visual cue - colour brown, audio queue - first and second crack, smell - nothing, then popcorn, then sweet caramel, then burning (even though your beans may not be at the over burnt phase. )
The simple version: Pour raw beans in pot, stir till brown.
Ok, so the detailed roast method:
- Turn on your stove to fairly hot / use hot coals from the braai
- Pour beans into pot or pan of choice, and allow to heat up. Once you smell popcorn, start stirring occasionally. This could up to 3-5 minutes
- Once you hear the first few beans reach first crack, we suggest stirring more often, however there is nothing wrong with an inconsistent roast. It actually provides a very flavoursome coffee, with the blend of dark and medium roasts in one cup.
- Turn the heat down to medium in order to retain control, and reduce the smoke levels. (You can of course keep the heat on high as you will get a faster roast, but then stir constantly so that your beans don't burn)
- Once you reach your colour of choice, pour your beans onto a plate, or cooling object, and allow to cool
- Once cooled, either sift the beans to remove the husk, or take them outside and blow the husk off into the garden.
- Now you can grind as much as you like, but keep in mind that coffee satrts to loose flavour quicker in its ground format than in beans, and, coffee is kind of like a good curry. It always tastes better the next day, so leave a little bit for another day.
To choose the colour that you want, we recommend you take some beans from your favourite brand that you traditionally use, then work toward matching that colour. After you've made your first cup of coffee that you're happy with, try roasting for a shorter or longer time and taste the difference.
First and second crack: Your beans will all crack at different times, so while it's an audio cue to listen out for, bear in mind that the fist beans 1st crack could be a minute or 2 until the last beans 1st crack.
Once you get to second crack, your bean flavour starts to deteriorate rapidly, so if you are wanting a French or Italian dark roast, be very careful a this stage. Also, your beans can reach up to 250 degrees Celsius, so you will need to cool them down very rapidly in order not to loose more flavour even after you have taken them off the heat.
Roasting times vary depending on a few things, but in general we say about 15 minutes:
- Flavour of the coffee required - a lighter roast will have more of a floraly flavour, whereas a medium to dark roast will have more chocolate, nutty, tobacco flavours, but keep in mind the bean origin plays a big role in this flavour profile, and that once you start going past second crack, and the beans start nearing the colour black, they start to lose their origin flavour and start to taste more bitter.
- The hardware of choice - A cast iron pot will be the fastest, but you can get some good control with a frying pan, A cast iron pot also gives your roast a bit of a smokiness that a frying pan doesn't.
- The Heat source - a gas stove gets hotter than an electric stove, however a cast iron pot on the braai could be even faster..
And that's the whole stove top roasting saga. It really is as easy as that!
Popcorn machine roasting:
- Pour raw beans into popcorn chamber, and replace the lid
- Put a bowl under the mouth piece as your husk will fly out here
- Turn popcorn machine on
- If you have taken out the thermostat, then turn off the machine at your desired colour.
- If you haven't taken out the thermostat, you may need to push the start button twice as the first round creates a fairly light roast, but you may need to switch it off mid-way, depending on the roast flavour you are looking for.