In the last article I talked about roasting on the cheap, so that was taking green coffee and roasting it in a hot air popcorn popper. You can certainly go more expnsive and there are a lot of home roasters that you can buy that do a great job. That being said – they aren’t that much better than a popper. It is only once you get into a drum roaster that you start to gain.
The issue using a popcorn popper is that you will inevitably get a slightly uneven roast. There will be a couple of beans that didn’t move as well as they should, and they got over roasted. So – chuck em out. The other thing with a popcorn popper is that you cannot over fill it, otherwise you will get a very uneven roast. I’d recommend that you don’t go above a quarter of a cup of green beans. The reason is that green beans contain more moisture than roasted beans so they start off heavier, and at the beginning of the roast they don’t get mixed up by the hot air evenly if you overload. The end result is the bottom beans will burn before the top beans start to roast.
If you stick to a quarter cup this doesn’t happen.
You have been warned.
The other thing is that over time your popcorn popper will start to look really nasty. The air chamber will take a brown stain, and probably the top will start to look nasty too. I don’t bother cleaning mine much, other than giving it a quick wipe down betweeen roasts, and it sits in the cupboard between roasts giving the other half conniptions. Bottom line on this is it’s 15 bucks you have spent, so who cares, If it lasts a year, then for the price of three Starbucks you have had a year of great coffee.
With those caveats, you will end up with a quarter cup of beans roasted nicely after 10 minutes or so and have to chuck a few away for a total outlay of 15 bucks a year.
You let them sit and cool for a few hours and store them in an airtght container. If kept tlike this, then they are good for a week or so, as long as you don’t grind them. Once you grind them, then use them immediately.
This then brings us on to grind. If you are an espresso addict like me, then you need a very good grinder that is both capable of grinding very fine, and also capable of grinding very evenly. If you are not into espresso, then you can get away with a much less capable grinder. The grinder I use is a Baratza Encore burr grinder that you can buy for about $150 and I consider to be a) a really great grinder for the price, and b) about the minimum quality I would consider for espresso. I’ve used cheaper grinders and you can really tell the difference.
For those people that are just into drip or filter coffee, you can get a quite capable grinder for less than $50, just not one for espresso.
The key here is to grind the coffee just before you use it. Ground coffee starts to lose its oils and flavor quite quickly – you can notice the difference in just a couple of hours. If you have to grind earlier (the missus doesn’t like the sound of the grinder first thing in the morning lets say) then seal the ground coffee in an airtight container.