My First Roast

A few weeks ago I read an article in my local paper that described an easy way to roast your own coffee beans. You only need a special kind of air popcorn popper that you can find on eBay or a thrift store, green coffee beans, and a timer. I had to try it. I got a Westend Poppery II air popper on eBay.

I went to a local coffee roaster today (with Luke – he almost broke one of their plants) and picked out five different types of beans, one pound each. Prices range from $3 to $5 a pound, and these are high-quality beans. For my first roast, I decided on the Ethiopian decaf.


My instructions (from someone using this popper) state that I should use 3/4 of a cup of beans and roast for 6 minutes. Its recommended that you roast outside because the smoke gets stale and stinks. Here goes nothing.


I plugged in the popper. At between 3 and 4 minutes I’m supposed to hear the "first crack"… the first cracking bean. I’m afraid I’ll miss it – the popper itself is pretty loud. Here are the beans as they start to roast.


2 minutes in… starting to smell a little different, and we see a small change in color. The popper spins and circulates the beans. They bounce around a little and only a couple escaped.


3 minutes in… I did hear a crack at about 3 1/2 minutes, sounded a little like a popcorn popping. Now I’m supposed to hear a "second crack" at about 5 minutes. Hmmm… is this a different crack than the "first crack"? How do I tell the difference between the first and second?


Back to the instructions. For a dark roast, its recommended that you stop at 6 minutes. Here are the beans immediately after turning off the popper at 6 minutes. I never really heard a "second crack", though I did hear a bunch of "first cracks". Gotta get better instructions.


As instructed, I dumped the beans into a collander and stirred them around to help cool them off. Nice color! I expected them to be a little darker and shinier, and perhaps they would have been if I’d let the roast go longer. Maybe I’ll try 7 minutes tomorrow.


How did the coffee turn out? Well… the beans are supposed to rest at least 2 hours after roasting, and they are supposed better after 24 hours. I’ll grind them tomorrow morning and see how they turned out.


3 thoughts on “My First Roast

  1. Hi, I live in Hong Kong
    Your stroy is very amazing. I will try to roast my the first coffee in next few days. I order a I-roaster in local dealer. It is 220 electric voltage in Hong Kong. It is very hard to find a coffee roaster in Hong Kong not as the popular in USA. I easily find a lots coffee roaster in website almost in USA but all are in 110 electric voltage.

    Let me know how is good taste of your the first own roasted coffee.

    Have a nice day and merry christmas.

  2. Adam – Nice job! Looks like a great first roast!

    Simon –

    An alternative way to roast small batches of coffee is to use a heat gun – the kind used for stripping paint that produces 750 Deg F or hotter airflow. Put the beans in a stainless steel bowl, stir with a wooden spoon while pointing the heat gun at the beans, moving it constantly. It usually takes about 8-13 minutes to complete a roast of about 150 Grams of green beans. Cool the beans by pouring back and forth between two bowls.

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