Coffee Roasting [Cooking]

2007 Mar 10
Any other home roasters out there?

I just finished roasting about 225g of green beens from over in Gatineau. Took about 30 minutes, and lasts me about a week.

There are a number of ways to roast coffee at home. Most people use a hot air corn popper, and I'll get to that momentarily. But first I'll describe how to use a skillet on the stovetop to roast your green beans. It's not the most consistent method but it's easy and produces good results, and can give you an idea of what kind of results you can expect, without purchasing any special equipment. You simply pre-heat the skillet on about 1/2 heat, put in enough green beans to just cover the bottom of the skillet, and then keep the skillet moving - like when making popcorn - until it's done. A fair amount of smoke will be produced as the chaff - like the skins on peanuts - burns off, so make sure you either turn on the range hood exhaust, or open lots of windows.

As coffee roasts, it goes through two stages known as "first pop" and "second pop", as the beans dry out. First pop sounds a lot like popcorn popping, while second pop sounds more like rice krispies crackling, though much more intense. Depending upon the roasting method, the beans, and ambient conditions, there may or may not be a minute or two of relative silence between first and second pop. I found that when roasting indoors in a hot air corn popper there was a good two minutes of relative silence between first and second pop. Using the same popper outdoors in a roasting box, first pop transitioned right into second pop with no silence in between.

People who prefer a very light roast will stop the process somewhere around first pop. Those who want a medium roast will stop between first and second pop, or just into second pop. Stopping the roast well into or even beyond second pop will produce a dark roast. When you have reached the desired level of roast, you simply turn off the heat and dump the beans into a colander and swish them about to cool them as quickly as possible. If you do not cool them quickly, the roast will continue to develop to a level beyond what you had intended. Then you let the beans rest in an open container for 12 to 24 hours before using them.

Any easier and more consistant method than the skillet is to use a hot air corn popper, which you can get for 2 bucks at your local Salvation Army Thrift Store or other 2nd hand store. There are 2 basic kinds of poppers, and only 1 will work (the other may catch fire!). When you look down into the metal bowl in the popper, you'll either see holes in the bottom of the bowl for the hot air to come up through, or you'll see louvres in the sides of the bowl. You want the louvres, not the holes.

2007 Mar 10
When roasting with a popper, basically you do this :
- put beans in - fill to the line a bit above the louvres
- turn popper on
- time how long it's in
- turn popper off
- put beans into colander and move about to cool off
- let them rest 12-24 hours in an open container before using.

Now, because this can cause a lot of smoke, you don't likely want to do it indoors unless you have a range hood exhaust, which I do not. And doing it outdoors when it is cold out does not work because the popper won't get hot enough. Unless you trick it :-). Basically you put the popper into a box like a banker's box or in my case a large plastic brew bucket. On a day like today only -5C you don't have to cover it, but on colder days you cover pare or all of it with alu foil.

Every popper will have a different timing under different conditions. Right now I'm using a "Popcorn Pumper". The "West Bend Poppery II" is also very popular. I have a few of those too and find them slightly less powerful - good for warm weather in the summer. Both of these are likely the 2 most well documented poppers on the internet. On my popcorn pumper I get a very dark city roast at about 8 minutes with a cool popper. About 6.5 minutes on the 2nd batch with the popper preheated. But I've come to like lighter roasts as you get more bean flavour vs just plain charcoal.

But I don't really go by time anymore. It's a good way to start out but now I go by sound and smell. Mainly sound. I use the sounds of first and second pop to tell me when it's done. I like a good medium roast now which is just at the beginning of 2nd pop. My wife prefers it when I go 30 to 45 seconds into 2nd pop for a darker roast.

I've been buying up poppers for 2 bucks each. I have 2 of the popcorn pumpers, and I think 3 or 4 of the Poppery II, as well as a Kenmore or something like that. At some point I would like to try doing some popper modifications on one of them. Like for example convert one to have separate heat and fan controls. Some people also have a 2nd popper with the heating coil removed for cooling the beans. Considering you can get a popper at your local thrift store for 2 bucks, you can do some experimenting without worrying abot breaking the bank.

The beauty of home-roasting is that green beans are less than half the price of gourmet coffee. And green beans keep practically forever so you don't have to worry about having a lot on hand. Roasted beans start to deteriorate after a week or two. And of course you get to enjoy precisely the roast you want. 30 seconds in the roaster can make a pretty big difference in the final product.

2007 Mar 12
One final thing about home-roasted - it's just way better tasting. I know lots of people who've started roasting and will never go back to pre-roasted.

And after 30 minutes of roasting you get to smell like freshly roasted coffee for the next 2 hours ... mmmmmm.

2007 Mar 12
Speaking of coffee roasting, is there an Ethiopian restaurant in town that does a coffee ceremony? We have been to a place in Toronto that does this (roasts the beans on demand and wafts them for you, serves in special round-bottomed pot) but not here.

2007 Mar 13
Interesting to "roast the beans on demand", since as Bushidoka mentioned, you want to let the freshly roasted beans "off gas" for 12-24 hours before using them.

2007 Mar 13
Flyfish: I remember hearing about a restaurant that does the coffee ceremony...could be East African on Rideau?? I checked the 'tags' section but unfortunately they don't have a website.I'm sure you could call them and ask and if they don't do it, I bet they know who does!

2007 Mar 13
Yes, i did mention above to let them rest 12 to 24 hours in an open container, though to be honest i've last-minute-roasted a number of times (mother necessity) and used the beans immediately, and don't notice a big difference. They are still markedly better than pre-roasted gourmet.

2007 Mar 16
I find that if my coffee has not had enough time to degas the flavour is just not as developped but it certainly beats anything comercially available. Once you roast, you can never go back ... and you feel insulted at the horrors that certain places sell you for $5 a cup.

That being said, I had the coffee ceremony at East Africa and it's more than just roasting coffee, there is some thigny that is lit ... mirh (don't quote me on that) that is lit and fills the air with fragrant smoke and some spices are added to the coffee so the subtelties of a given roast are probably not as important.

For those intrested in roasting, you might want to invest in a small roaster. I'm really happy with my Zach & Danny roaster. My main criteria was : less smoke and it really does the job. I still have to shield the smoke detector but I can do it indoor with the windows closed. You can get them from Toronto from a place called greenbeanery in Toronto. They also sell tons of green beans and they get them to you very quickly at a decent price.

2007 Oct 20
Gonna have to hang out here more often. great idea with the popper. I'll be heading to the salvation army.... d'oh, monday I guess. don't think it's open sunday. Anyways, also wanted to mention the roater that RKEM mentions is listed as "Nesco Roaster (formerly Zach and Dani's)" turns out it's one I have my eye on already. actually I'm told by a buddy that the grinder that you can get in the combo with this one is a great model, so I may hold out. hopefully the popper idea will tide me over.

2009 Mar 28
Here you go - a quick little video on how to roast in a frying pan

EDIT: fresh foodie, could you edit my original post and change the heat setting to 1/2 from 3/4?

2009 Mar 30
Im buying beans on my next day off! This is exciting!

2009 Mar 31
BTW, when I posted that link on facebook, a friend who roasts in a frying pan followed up with this comment : "One thing you can do to generate a more even roast is to use a closed pot rather than a frypan. Basically, choose a pot with a very close fitting lid and a handle. Put the beans in the pot. Close the lid and put on oven mits. Hold the lid closed with one hand and grip the handle with the other. Shake back and forth over high heat. Every 4th or 5th shake I lift the pot of the heat and flip the beans around inside the pot. Don't take the lid off! Keep doing that, listening for 1st and/or 2nd crack. After one or two tries I was able to get a pretty much perfectly uniform roast. The pot acts as an oven and gives you a much better roast. And no mess due to the lid"

2009 Mar 31
Zym - Your buddy's technique is the method by which all us Baby Boomers grew up making popcorn (anyone remember those kits with the solidified yellow gunk in one pouch, and the kernals in the other?). Then along came Jiffy Pop in the magical pan, and good-bye Tv Time Popcorn.

2009 Mar 31
Zym, how much money would you say you save by roasting your own? We drink a fair amount of coffee and have a soft spot for Bridgehead beans...

2009 Mar 31
I dunno - don't really do it for saving money. But if you are buying good coffee like Bridgehead I'd guess quite a bit.

Go to and price some beans. I recently discovered the "wholesale and bulk" section if you are willing to buy at least 20lb of one type of bean

2009 Mar 31
Thanks Zymurgist, this is very helpful. I picked up some beans at the Aladdin shop in Gatineau on the weekend.

Going to look for a used popcorn popper.

2009 Mar 31
Thanks! Yes, I think I could save a fair amount of money and have fun in the process.. it's on my to do list now.. Have you ever tried Luak coffee? Interresting.....

2009 Mar 31
Thanks! Yes, I think I could save a fair amount of money and have fun in the process.. it's on my to do list now.. Have you ever tried Luak coffee? Interresting.....

2009 Mar 31 sells cheap poppers and delivers to most ottawa neighbourhoods if you can wait up to a week. but he does do rush deliveries to your door if you have home made beer or mead to offer ...

EDIT: be sure to include in your calcs that roasted coffee weighs about 80% of green coffee, sometimes less if you go for a 'charcoal' roast

2009 Mar 31
I find that 450g (~1 lb) of green beans gives me about 375g after roasting. That agrees with zym's 80% ratio.

You do save some money by roasting your own but the real benefit is a fantastically better cup of coffee! If the coffee tasted the same I don't think I'd bother with roasting myself.

I buy the 20lb bag ($100 including shipping from GreenBeanery) of Bolivian Colonial Caranavi, which I settled on after sampling 8 or so different beans from GreenBeanery and Equator. I like a full-bodied bean with low acidity and this is the best I've found (Equator's "Yungas" is equivalent). Anyway, it works out to about $6/lb after roasting -- not a bad price for premium organic, shade-grown, fair-trade coffee!

2009 Apr 1
I've seen guys use chilled cookie sheets to spread the beans out after they shake off the chaff.

2009 Apr 1
Yeah, that would work well too

2009 Apr 1
So if this coffee tasting experiment ever happens, will we get to sample your stuff there Zym?!

2009 Apr 1
It will happen - don't worry. If you mean by "my stuff" my coffee, then yes, of course :-)

I'm waiting for summer to set in before doing it, for a number of reason but a big one being that my Saturday mornings are freed up.

2009 Apr 1
No prob - sounds good to me! Maybe I'll roast some as well... I'm good buddies with an old roaster from Francesco's so maybe I can take some pointers from him on different blends (though, what I remember from him was that he preferred single origin, no blending).

2010 Jun 16

Anyone else doing any roasting these days?

A buddy of mine just bought a Behmor 1600 and now I have roaster envy :-)

But my iRoast2 is still doing well enough

2010 Jun 16
I am roasting coffee with my Nesco roaster (with a lovely smoke reduction feature). Heck, I am even luring other coffee roasters into the fold by loaning out my heavily used air roaster that I got 2nd hand. I am currently doing most of my roasting with the basic Costa Rican Fancy bean.

The value for money, especially in bulk, is quite impressive imo. I need to experiment with my sampler packs before I start blending.

2010 Jun 16
Is this the one you have Jagash?

2010 Jun 16
Yes it is indeed, lovely thing. It does take a long while (20-30 min), but the roast is consistant and quite frankly better then the previous air popper I had. The lack of smoke makes it feasibly for me to roast even dark roasts in mid-january in my poorly ventilated apartment. Now, apparently the Behmor has something roughly similar but as of yet I'm not at the point of roasting 1 lb batches nor do I have the counter space.

2010 Jun 18
Proper conversion of starches to sugars, (wait let me say, in my opinion), a faster hotter roast gives you better pyrolysis. 12 minutes, go in at 475/240 drop the flame when you get to the first pop and if you are on your game, you get a nice roast without tipping (scorching the tips).
the person who mentioned Luak (kopi luak) should know that most luak is now produced by force feeding caged civets, who naturally would only eat and poop perfectly ripe cherries but as indentured servants, eat what they are fed, ergo, what made it so special in the first place now makes it extra NOT special, crappy coffee AND animal cruelty.

2011 Jan 6

2011 Jan 7
Your many videos have one thing in common zymurgist - an honesty that's homey, unassuming, and unpretentious that's akin to being invited into your home for a little show and tell. I find them charming and useful (the ones that I have watched).

I do thank you and all the others here (FF, Jagash, etc) and in other coffee threads at Ottawa Foodies who have shared their experiences and knowledge and inspired me to take up coffee roasting. I started with a cast iron pan and have moved up to a Popcorn Pumper which I just finished fitting a thermometer into to roast by temperature rather than time (smell wasn't working too well for me and with bad hearing I can't hear 2nd crack with the noisy popper). With beans arriving here on my doorstep from around the world I have realized what a steep learning curve there is when you start roasting your own but, my goodness, what a tasty curve it's turned out to be.

Thanks to all here sharing their experiences!

2011 Jan 7
Rock on Andy!

2011 Mar 6
Fascinating stuff..I want to roast my own coffee now. I am a relative neophyte when it comes to this stuff..I was used to "bad coffee" for years and it was quite the eye opener to experience true fresh roasted coffee on a trip to New Orleans a few years back. Amazing to realize what you have been missing all those years of drinking robusto..

Just as an aside, is there a place in Ottawa that will let you pick out your own beans and then do the roasting for you as you wait? Hmmmm..sounds like a NYC type thing more than Ottawa. Not sure if that would be all that economically feasible.

Anyhow, I hope I can find a hot air popcorn popper at one of our local Sally Ann's etc. Or have you guys already cornered the market? LOL...a big black market trade no doubt!

I might spring for an iroast or whatever..but its hard to resist a bargain price for the hot air one.

2011 Mar 6
rocket88 - what you are looking for is a "micro-roaster", and I happen to be one of the only 2 that I know of here in Ottawa.

My company is Bytown Beanery

The other is just around the corner from me Happy Goat Coffee

Neither of us really do it while you wait though - actually Happy Goat may I'm not sure. But typically you would call in or email in an order and come by in an hour or so to pick it up.

We've had so many of our customers comment that they just can't go back to crappy coffee anymore. My wife's friend said she woke up yesterday morning and took one sip of the coffee her husband made and spit it out and screamed "what kind of s**t did you brew?". Apparently he brewed the "good" stuff from Costco that they'd always drunk. But one sip and it tasted like crap to her now. Once you've had freshly roasted you can never go back to that.

If you need help figuring out how to roast your own just bump this thread again. It is pretty easy to do and pretty hard to mess up really.

2011 Mar 6
Oh, forgot to mention that Happy Goat Coffee does Vac Pot ( Siphon Pot ) demos on most Saturdays and Sundays, but you have to call ahead to reserve a spot. They also have pretty good prices on Vac Pots.

Check their twitter feed to see if they are doing any demos today - I know they were yesterday

2011 Mar 6
rocket88 you would be wise to find a popper and start roasting. A few years ago I started wanting a better cup of joe at home for a decent price, not 16$/lb, but there just isn't any commercial coffee out there in grocery stores that is really any good. As a result of posts here I bought my first green beans last June at Aladdin's in Hull/Gatineau and jumped in, roasting in a cast iron skillet. It was not totally satisfactory, but showed promise. In the fall I found my first hot air popper - I scored the Popcorn Pumper ($3), highly desireable for coffee roasting, at the local thrift shop (couldn't find any poppers in Ottawa - I'm just outta the city limits). The results improved but were not entirely satisfactory. Fixing a thermometer into my popper has helped immensely, and I can get repeatable roasts, although for some reason the roast time varies up to 3 min.; I suspect being the last house on the hydro line might have something to do with the fact that roasts take different lengths of time to arrive at the same temperature, and sometimes not getting hot enough to get to 2nd crack.
I have been buying green beans from mostly, though have sourced them from Equator a couple of times. I've tried maybe 20 diff. beans and quite enjoyed most of them. I found buying 4 x 1/2lb samplers a poor way to learn to roast - better to buy 2 lb of a variety and try different roasts with the 8 to 10 roasts you can do with that much coffee. But after buying 5x2 lb bags of different beans a # of times I realized that it is way cheaper to buy a 20 lb bag of 1 variety so have finally done that (Ethiopian Limu). I miss having diferent beans to roast and drink so I'm planning on ordering maybe 4x5 lb bags of 4 diff. beans. I really should get in with some others and buy a number of 20 lb or larger bags to get an even better deal and selection of beans.

Another thing, about the popcorn popper, there were several on Ottawa Kijiji and they were still there the last I looked a couple of days ago - people seem to want $10 for them on Kijiji but may take less. THey might be available still, though I don't know if either is suitable for roasting coffee. (I also scouted out Halifax Kijiji a few days ago and alerted my s-i-l there to a Popcorn Pumper listed there in case she wanted to get me some treasure for my B-Day).
Yesterday I hit the Holy Grail of poppers, an original West Bend Poppery in the original box with instructions - I found it in Kemptville at the Sally Ann for $2.99. That makes 3 (my wife found another $3 popper at our local thrift store 2 weeks ago - she's now wondering just how many poppers I need after I came home yesterday with my treasure.
Try it you just might like it - or maybe just collect poppers, clean them up and sell them on ebay, making lotsa money to buy good coffee at Francesco's or Bytowne Beanery!
Cheers! Andy

2011 Mar 8
I've been following this thread and it looks very interesting. I'm on my way to the thrift store to see if I can find a popcorn popper.
Not sure if my tastebuds will know what hit them as I have been known to nuke coffee that has been sitting for a few hours. (Turned off of course)

2011 Mar 8
I dropped in for a siphon brewed pot of coffee today with a buddy of mine at Happy Goat. Friendly owner, excellent coffee - similar in some ways to an Aeropress brewed coffee. Definitely check it out if you're a coffee nut or looking for a better coffee, it's a little pricier than other places but the blends he makes are really well balanced in flavour. Another upside to my visit - I smell like freshly roasted coffee!

2011 Mar 9
I was there in the afternoon to check the place out and buy a half-pound of Ugandan. I had a shot of his 'signature' espresso and it was really quite good. I'll definitely be back as it is about a 2 minute walk from where I work in Tunney's Pasture.

I just love a business with a friendly dog.

2011 Mar 10
i wonder if there's a business idea here..."Roast your Own" like the brew your own places?

2011 Mar 10
Nice idea Spud Guy, but there is a lack of green coffee bean supply in the city at the moment. Add in the variability in coffee origins, roasting times and machines and you could have some notable challenges here.

Could be done, certainly, but might be a bit more challenging.

2011 Mar 14
Thanks for all the info and advice Andy and Zymurgis (and others)..sorry I'm late getting back..

I popped for an iRoast II over the weekend and will try my first roast this week.I will definately check out your roasts Zy ...looking forward to trying other beans etc.

Really appreciate all the great comments here..

2011 Mar 31
I ordered some green beans last week from Equator - ended up having to phone in the order as the website has problems and found out they are looking into a new provider, and also business is good so they are growing in Almonte, doubling their space there. I note that it takes a week to get the coffee out to me, 5 days slower than greenbeanery in TO! Anyways, I ordered 10 lb in 2 lb lots of 5 diff origins and note that the price was $1.49/lb less than my first order there in the fall ($7.50 vs $8.99) - that surprised me as there is no indication on the website of any savings (beyond free shipping if you order 2 or more lb total). Bonus!!!

On another note I bought an energy meter earlier this month to see if I could figure out why similar roasts take different lengths of time to reach the same temp, like 7 to 11 minutes. I don't know if it has anything to do with being the last house at the end of a line or just a system issue but early indications are that it's a voltage fluctuation issue. I wonder if a variac is the answer? ...Any electrical engineers here? Has anyone else ever noted that you can't rely on a watch to get roast repeatability?
Btw the meter shows that I'm getting 6 or 7 roasts (1/4 lb/113 g each) per kilowatt hour of electricity

How's the roasting working out for you, rocket88?

2011 Mar 31
Andy, you are right that a variac is a basic requirement if you want consistency with an electric roaster. This is one of the main reasons I did not go with an otherwise fantastic electric commercial roaster, and instead went with a NG powered one. Although our house has really good, stable electricity and I do not think this was an issue with our electric home roaster. Far more an issue is keeping it clean. You really have to clean it regularly and keep it good and clean. But still, I did not want to risk it with a commercial roaster, and did not want the additional expense of a variac.

What type of roaster are you using?

2011 Apr 1
Zym., I am enjoying your coffee this morning as I read this. Whatever you're doing, it's working!

2011 Apr 1
Glad to hear you're enjoying it, blubarry! ;)

Andy, I do the majority of our roasting now and find rather significant fluctuations in roasting time. Without the variac, the best you can do is learn the behavior of the bean you are roasting, listen for the minute changes in sound, and be very vigilant in monitoring the last 5min or so of your roast cycle. I find that the audible and visual cues are more helpful than actual roaster time in hitting the right roast level on my beans.

With practice, I'm now able to roast several batches in a row to the exact same finished weight/roast level.

You can minimize the fluctuations, though, by making sure that the roaster isn't running at the same time as any other electric appliance(s). Even just running the dishwasher here makes a difference in the roast timing.

2011 Apr 1
Yes, I should mention that I predicted in advance that once my wife started roasting, she'd easily surpass me in skill and knowledge (just like she did in cooking after I met her). I just was not really expecting it to happen as fast as it did :-) She's way better than I am in about a month! And I'm already learning from her.

Like refashionista said, the audible cues are far more important than timing. You want to be able to hear and distinguish 1st and 2nd crack. Most medium and dark roasts will be timed off 2nd crack - you either start your cool cycle right at the beginning of it, or wait for "full 2nd crack" to start (when it is cracking without pauses) and start timing from there. 60 to 90 seconds for a good vienna roast, depending on the bean.

blubarry - glad you like it :-)

EDIT: hot air roasters make it a lot more difficult to hear 1st and 2nd crack, so it may be more challenging

2011 Apr 1
Oh yeah, and make sure you keep a record of weights before and after roasting. Get a good gram scale and keep a spread sheet or database. Keep really good notes of your results.

2011 Apr 1
ref & zym, thanks for your comments. I am doing much of what you recommend and am getting repeatable, tasty roasts in spite of a hearing loss that makes 2C hard to hear sometimes over the dull roar of my Popcorn Pumper, though up to this point I haven't really been doing dark roasts as I've been working on roasting in the medium range and trying various coffee bean origins to get to know them and find out what I like. Using a thermometer has been very useful, and the energy meter has shown the length of my roasts to the second, the voltage, amperage, and wattage of each roast, all of which I am keeping records of. The line voltage has varied between 123V and 119V, so not a huge voltage difference but I wonder if that causes the time diff. I don't know if other household energy uses might be adding variability as ref suggests and don't know what other things are on the same line as the outlet I've been using (by coincidence last night I wired up an outlet on an unused line that has nothing else running off it and used it this morning for roasting my first venture into the dark side of roasting, nicely into full 2C with some Guatemalan Antigua from gb). Up to now I've been roasting in the medium range, edging up just into 2C and then pulling back to the point just below which seems to be what I like, but I want to go beyond that and see if there is something I like after 2C starts - where the roasting flavour takes over and the origin flavours fall off. Good thing I roast every 1 or 2 days - keeps me thinking trying all that coffee!

2011 Apr 2
You can get a new hot air popper, with the side vents, at Sears on sale for $15.99 (till April 10th)

2011 Apr 3
Well, you certainly learn a lot of things from Ottawa foodies. I do anyway.

I'm a coffee lover, but learning about coffee roasting has resulted in my finding out coffee beans have a lot of burnt sugars (caramelized during the roasting process) in them. Burnt sugars contain AGEs (Advanced Glycation End Products) which are potent inputs to the real aging process. I've pretty much given up on foods like creme brulee because of this. Looks like I may have to wean myself off my love of coffee too . . . or maybe cut it back to once a week. On the good side, if I'm just having it occasionally I could make it a Jamaica Blue . . . :-)

Follow up . . . I managed to find information on the AGE content of foods and coffee is not bad. I guess a lot of it stays in the grounds AGE in kU / 100 ml for drip coffee 1.6, spanish coffee 4.8, diet pepsi 2.8. Other common foods AGE in kU / 100 g: fried egg 2,749, poached egg 90, McDonalds biscuit 1,470, bacon fried 91,577, cocktail peanuts 8,333.

The full paper with the list of 547 foods can be found here:

2011 Apr 5
Andy Wrote:
How's the roasting working out for you, rocket88?

I have only done one off the fire alarm in my apt. (no hood vent in my kitchen!) so I did it near the sliding door to the balcony. I have the iRoast II and its a really nice machine but I am a slow learner with

I have some Sumatran green beans and I roasted them for 12 minutes. Not crazy about the results. I think perhaps I should have stuck to a less "exotic" bean as my palate is used to Tim Horton's level coffee. I really need to get to Zym's place to try out some other beans and roasts. I'm such a rookie! There seems to be a heck of alot more stuff to learn about coffee than I ever imagined. But having that amazing coffee in New Orleans several years ago keeps me interested in learning more.

2011 Apr 5
Hey rocket88 - didn't anyone warn you to remove the battery or cover the fire alarm with plastic wrap and an elastic before roasting? (says the guy who set his off quite often til he moved to a room with no fire alarm) It took me a while to get a consistently good roast as I wandered somewhat aimlessly the first couple of months using a skillet and a campstove outside...the popcorn popper made it easier, the thermometer made it consistent. Not knowing the IRoast I couldn't help with the timing using it. The Sumatran is likely a "sweeter" coffee than what you have had, lacking the sourness or acidity that you may be used to (but the organic free trade sumatran from greenbeanery that I've roasted is one of my faves for a smooth, relaxing, rich afternoon/evening cup).
If you want something good to read about roasting "Home Coffee Roasting" by Kenneth Davids is worth either ordering from the library or buying (might be $14??).
You're right about lots to learn but it has been worth it - the proof is in my daily coffee. And I've still a lot to learn. You will too, and it should be a heck of a lot sooner than a couple more years before you have your next amazing coffee, one you roasted yourself. Good luck with your next roast.

2011 Apr 5
I found the iRoast2 to be extremely frustrating and inconsistent. Very very difficult to get repeatable results. You can get some amazing coffee out of it, but it will be difficult to hit your target every time.

2011 Apr 6
How should green coffee beans be stored? Freezer, Fridge, or cool dark place?

2011 Apr 6
Cool dark place is the way to go. Freezers will do more harm then help.

2011 Apr 6
Store them sealed away from moisture, as cool as possible but room temp is fine. Either in ziplock bags or buckets with air tight lids. They will keep for years if stored properly.

2011 Apr 6
I've noticed that most good quality coffee comes in a sealable bag and also contains a one-way valve to allow air out, but not in.

2011 Apr 6
Bobby those bags are for degassing coffee that's been roasted, not for green beans, though they might be OK for the greens if they truely are one way and keep moisture and O2 out.

Francis I too have been wondering how to store my beans - I was keeping them in their original shipping bags (plastic or plastic-lined paper) in a closed cupboard in the kitchen, away from the light, stove, dishwasher and sink, but the 20 lb I ordered in Feb has been in the cold room in plastic in it's shipping box except for a plastic bag I fill and keep in the kitchen cupboard for roasting. I do want to find out myself how best to store that coffee as the cold room may not be best place as the humidity starts rising, as it already has. There seem to be differing opinions re storing long term in plastic - sweetmarias seems to want it both ways - plastic for long term large quantity storage for their beans, and cotton or paper bags for our green coffee at home - see
I'm leaning towards using cotton bags hanging in a windowless dark room in the basement.

2011 Apr 6
Andy, if your house has huge humidity swings I think you'd be crazy to store in anything but plastic. Humidity is not an issue in the least as long as the beans are in sealed plastic.

As luck would have it - a few weeks ago we stumbled upon some green beans that I'd bought a good 3 years ago. Roasted them up and they were absolutely perfect! They'd been stored in the kitchen cupboard all that time, in a sealed plastic bag.

I also have some 15 years of experience storing brewing grain this way. Same principles. Same recommendation.

EDIT: pretty sure the beans we found were from the very same batch of beans I bought when I started this thread in 2007!!!

2011 Apr 7
I am now the proud owner of a pound of raw Peruvian Pangoa, maple sugar glazed . . . not sure I want to put it in my popper though. In the glazing pan it was sticky. Right now they are kind of like beer nuts . . .

2011 Apr 7
Follow up:

Well good thing I didn't try roasting the caramelized beans in my popper. I tried it in a saucepan on the stovetop and they got really sticky again when heated. There was a lot of smoke too. And carbon forming on the bottom. After they cooled down I bit into one: it had a hard shell on the outside, but it was still raw and nutty on the inside . . . oh no, a failure! Now how was I going to roast these caramelized beans?

My next idea was microwaving - that would cook the inside directly, bypassing the glaze on the outside. I did a search on the internet and yes, some people do roast coffee beans in the microwave.

I spread a single layer of the caramelized beans in a round pyrex dish and tried it. About 90 seconds in my microwave gets them to popping (first crack) - and smoking a lot! I didn't wait for the second crack. Fume hood and air exchanger in the kitchen are going full blast. I'm letting them cool down now.

I tried one of them, and I think I may have succeeded - at something, but what? It was hard and cunchy through and through, and quite good tasting. The real question is, "what kind of coffee will I get tomorrow?"

2011 Apr 7
I thought you were a bit crazy Francis til I read elsewhere about glazed coffee - Torrefacto coffee - I had never heard of it, never seen it anywhere, so it will be interesting to see what you think of it. I presume its antioxidant levels are what attracted you to it, no? The only how-to guide I read says to roast it by mixing 1 part glazed beans with 4 parts unglazed then roast - did you do that or did you roast just the glazed - the mix might be a little easier on a popper, perhaps. Let us know how it tastes. Am wondering if the maple will come through at all, or will it be just sweet coffee.
btw I have just roasted that same coffee for the 1st time (not decaf though), and am wondering what it is like - will find out in a day or 2.

zym I may try the plastic though it is not what I really want to use; I will see...

2011 Apr 8
Well my first cup was a bit disappointing. My daughter had a cup too and said it was a bit strange, but still good. I mixed the "torrefacto" 50/50 with a regular grind.

1. It grinds in a blade grinder just fine. No problems there.

2. No maple taste. If you're going to try this, don't bother with maple syrup. By the time it's glazed, the maple taste is all caramelized away.

3. I found my first cup had less coffee taste. It was less bitter though. I drink my coffee black and I drink it for the coffee tastes. To me it was like a weaker, more dilute coffee. I probably didn't do it "right" on my first try either. I should get some real torrefacto from Spain for comparison.

4. Antioxidants? :-) Well I'm skeptical coffee has much antioxidants in any case. The coffee industry is sponsoring research to find health benefits in coffee, and they have found antioxidants. But just about anything that is not chemically inert has some antioxidants. It's nothing like what you would get from green tea, cocoa, or citrus fruits though, and coffee does have glycotoxins (AGEs) and acrylamides. However the AGEs in brewed coffee are relatively low. Perhaps the acrylamides in coffee can be eliminated easily as well. I read that dipping french fries in a solution of calcium chloride before frying reduces the acrylamides by 95%. Also I think sodium or potassium metabisulfite (from winewemaking stores) will likely work as well.

5. I do have a almost a pound of the maple glazed beans left . . . so I'll be trying it in different variations over the next few days . . . perhaps I can improve on the first cup.

2011 Apr 8
Andy what about a small cotton sacks? You could take an old pillow case and make sew 4 small sacks out of it . . . or some bought cotton cloth.

Does anyone buy from Sweet Marias? I'm thinking of getting a conical burr grinder from them.

2011 Apr 8
Sweet Marias has an extremely good reputation - I have not dealt with them but know a number of people who have.

We'll be soon carrying the Zassenhaus hand turn burr grinders and they have a model similar to the Hario you were asking me about, which we'll probably carry in addition to the traditional wooden ones. No pricing yet until we find out what duty is going to cost us, but I would expect them to be pricing a bit cheaper than what you see on the Sweet Marias site.

Oh, and I would still be extremely hesitant about storing beans in anything that is not airtight. What was the rational for the breathable storage? Just does not make any sense to me at all.

2011 Apr 8
Sweet Marias has cotton bags for storing green coffee beans for 0.45 cents USD.

But a cotton bag is probably the easiest thing in the world to sew on a sewing machine.

I ordered an Hario hand grinder online. My blade grinder is giving me too much grind size variation and I have to press quite hard with the Aeropress as the holes clog up in the metal filter.

Sweet Marias say they are more than an online shopping cart, they're a coffee university. And the coffee university does have a pretty good page on green bean storage here:

2011 Apr 8
Francis we have lots of cloth bags in lots of sizes, most with drawstrings - my dw makes them out of scrap material and we use them on gifts in place of wrapping paper (and often get them back next birthday, Xmas, etc.). I just need her to tell me which ones are cotton and wash some up. I have wondered about Sweet Marias too (burr grinder as well as beans) - their prices are significantly better, and getting better as the C$ rises.

zym I think the rational is because beans have moisture that might condense in sealed plastic if temp. drops, and cause molding. Bags like the burlap they are usually stored in, shipped in, etc, allow the beans to breath ie give off and absorb moisture - of course in a really moist climate too much moisture might be a problem for the beans. Note that Can. grain farmers do not use airtight farm storage and most use ventilation and heat (post harvest) to control moisture. Of course the temperature changes indoors here are not huge so plastic may well work (as you have indeed found), but I wonder what effect air conditioning might have (where the house interior goes from hot and humid to relatively cool and dry). A completely separate issue wrt the use of plastic is the effects of plastic on long term storage of the beans.

2011 Apr 8
I'm going to sew up some bags myself, because there are minimum shipping rates to Canada from Sweet Marias and I don't think I'll need that many bags. I have a place in the basement that is cool, dry and unfinished, so I can hang the bags from the overhead beams - I think that would be good for air circulation. In the picture from Sweet Marias they have sacks up on 2x4s so air circulates underneath.

Did I mention I ordered 3 lbs of Jamaica Blue Mountain Peaberry ? Should be good . . . :-)

2011 Apr 8
Well I can tell you with at least 5 or 6 years of experience that coffee stores really well in sealed airtight plastic - even outdoors year round since I've done my roasting out on the porch for some 2 years and stored my beans out there. No condensation whatsoever. And grain farmers may not use air tight storage, but further down the line they most certainly do. As a brewer I can assure you that air tight is way better for grain storage.

Anyway, let us know how it goes if you decide to let your beans breath. Mine have not been breathing for many years and our coffee is stunningly good. I'm definitely not willing risk it.

And I read the Sweet Marias page Francis, and I'd give them an F on that university course. On the surface it appears to be good info, but for example they do not give any reasons why your beans should breath. In fact they say that vacuum sealed is clearly better in tests they've done.

2011 Apr 8
Ok. I did see a vacuum sealer at Costco . . . I've been spending a lot on coffee gadgets since getting the Aeropress. But I am enjoying my coffee in the morning a heck of a lot more too !

What about adding a desiccant to the stored green beans, in plastic. Rice or silica gel (which can be regenerated if spent by heating in the oven at low temperatures - 160F ? - for an hour on a tray).

2011 Apr 8
p.s. I'll soon be making a run to Ogdensburg to pick up supplies for the company. If any of our customers want to get something (small and coffee related) shipped to the UPS store I'll get it for you at no charge other than the $5 fee at the UPS store (and any other fees I may be missing at the moment like customs, duty, tax). I'll have to look into it a bit more to be sure I can do this without somehow messing up my business books or whatever.

2011 Apr 8
That's a very kind offer Zym. I wish I had known because I had to pay $30 international shipping for the 3 lbs of Jamaica Blue, whereas shipping anywhere in the US was free. I complained in the online comment box when I placed the order, but I don't suppose anyone paid attention.

2011 Apr 8
Keep it in mind for the future Francis. I'll be making regular trips down there hopefully twice a month if business goes well. And I only decided to do it spur-of-the-moment when I just read the updates in this thread :-) Thinking more about it, I think the easiest way for me to do it would be to buy it for you and then sell it to you at 0% markup, if that works for you. That way I can keep it all legitimately on my books. But if someone has a different and more knowledgable opinion on the matter, please tell me.

2011 Apr 8
Sounds like a plan Zym. Between my daughter and myself, I think the 3lbs. of Jamaica Blue will not last too long.

p.s. She liked my Torrefacto. And after I told her how I made it, she said, "I knew I could taste something like maple syrup in there." I'll try it again tomorrow, perhaps it will grow on me.

2011 Apr 10
Francis any further comments on how you like that caramelized Peruvian Pangoa? Has the flavour developed to your liking?
I just finished another cup of the Pangoa (from Equator) and find it very likeable with good flavour, a good acidity and decent body, with good aftertastes. This morning I thought it made a fine morning cup of coffee. I roasted mine to 430-435 degF - just short of the start of 2nd crack.

2011 Apr 12
Hi Andy,

I had another Torrefacto, this time using only about 1/3 of the maple caramelized beans. It's not bad . . . but I guess I miss the "bite" in my regular coffee.

My daughter really likes it though, so I'll keep making it for her until it's all gone.

Now I don't know if I'll bother caramelizing another batch of beans. Also the roasting is more of a hassle because it can't be done in the hot air popper. You have to use a microwave or toaster oven - with frequent stirring to keep it even.


You may be interested in the kycero hand grinder I found on It's sells for about $60 in the US, plus shipping. It's on sale on for $29 and qualifies for free shipping. Even on it's $60. With an Aeropress it would be a good gadget for travelling, and if you like tinkering you can mod it and make an uber grinder. There are only 2 left. I'm going to mod mine, so we can compare notes if you get one too and want to mod it.


Update: I had some Ethiopian Yirgacheffe this morning, regular, and my first thought was, this tastes almost the same a the Torrfacto. It's a milder coffee.

2011 Apr 16
Hi Andy,

While messing about with sous vide stuff I found a Foodsaver vacuum sealer from Cabela's at 70% off.

I don't think my green beans will be around long enough to benefit from one though. I'm not buying a lot of them, just 3 lbs at a time.

However, like most food, prices will inflate rapidly (QE2 in the USA, soon to be followed by QE3). So it may be worthwhile to stash away some good coffee for a while.

I would think putting some rice in with beans as a desiccant would increase shelf life too.

2011 Apr 19
Our family has just purchased a new popcorn maker. This means I get to attempt to roast coffee with the old hot air popper. The weather is pleasant enough that I can set up on the back porch. Does anyone know where I can get a pound or two of green beans locally to start experimenting? I'll start ordering online once I know I want to do this, but I don't want too much hassle just to get going.

2011 Apr 19
The closest that I know is Aladdin Roasteries in Hull & Gatineau; their website has addy's: - that's where I got my 1st green beans, buying 1/2 lb bags of 4 diff. beans; they don't sell online as far as I know.
You can also get green beans in person at the Equator Cafe in Almonte: - They sell online and have just a little more selection, all organic and fair trade. And good (except for the Mexican (I've only done a single roast so far) - the jury's still out on that).

2011 Apr 19
You need an ambient temperature of 15C or better to roast in a popper. You may even need 20C depending on the popper.

The little ethiopian shop on Gladstone east of Bronson sells 1kg of green beans for $10. Sometimes it is yirgacheff - when I was there 2 months ago it was Eth. Limu.

2011 Apr 20
Really? do you have the name of the place? That sounds very handy.

2011 Apr 20
Olympia - drove by today

2011 Apr 20
I hope it okay to ask for suppliers on here, but while in London recently I found an online retailer who sold small quantities freshly roasted coffee beans to order, or even just green unroasted beans. I don't have the most discerning of palettes but the aroma and bean quality really did seem that much fresher and better. I wonder if there are some US suppliers that will roast fresh to order too that anyone would recommend?
gluten free chocolate

2011 Apr 25
I see a lot of thumbs down for zymurgist on this thread of coffee roasting and also over on Bytown Beanery.

I take it that this is because of the amount of marketing taking place in zymurgist's posts for his own business?

Since it is going on for so long, it seems messages aren't being clear here.

It is my understanding that this site is for members to do independent reviews without conflict of interest and it is not meant for promotion of one's own businesses in any way shape or form.

It seems that zymurgist has technical expertise to offer relating to coffee but beyond that it would be getting into the tricky area of conflict of interest.

Can some seasoned member weigh in on this as it all seems to be going on for far too long?

2011 Apr 25
Well Zym has been here longer than me as have a bunch of other people. Overall don't read too much into thumbs up/down. I don't believe Zym has crossed any line, and he has alway been open with his business once he got it going. Before he had any business in roasting he was full of suggestions on home roasting. I believe the only person who would worry about lines being crossed would be FF. I'm sure he would let Zym know if he crossed some kind of line - it's his site, we are merely participants. Vendors have always been welcome on the site, as long as they are not just shills. A certain cooking course used to (maybe still does, on my ignore list) posted their cooking course offering here for years.

2011 Apr 25
Food Is Fun!, two points to address your comments and questions:

1. Zymurgist is a valuable contributer here and he has lots of good info to share. He's also an opinionated bastard, meaning he's bound to make some enemies and garner thumbs down when he offends someone for whatever reason.

2. I have no problem with conflicts of interest or self-promotion by a business as long as it is transparent and tasteful. In other words, the poster should make it clear that they are affiliated with the business and the content should be informative and respectful, with a minimum of spam-style copy. Those traits are open to interpretation, which can result in thumbs down by some users.

I hope that clears it up for you! :-)

2011 Apr 25
What? Me? An opinionated bastard? I'm shocked!


OK, I'll try to tone it down I guess with the marketing.

2011 Apr 25
Apropos of nothing, Ottawa Foodies wouldn't be half as fun if it weren't for opinionated bastards! ;)

2011 Apr 29
I've been experimenting a bit with heating up the beans in the microwave first, before putting them in the popper. Generally about 1 min total, in 3 x 20 second intervals with stirring in between. I'm liking the results. The beans cook more evenly with the pre-warming. I also stir the beans in the popper at first, with a chopstick. I find that helps with uniformity too.

2011 May 2
Oohh, microwave pre-roasting sounds very interesting. I will need to try that.

2011 May 2
Al Jazeerah has a green bean immediately to the right when you go in the door. It is from Brazil but not sure what type of bean. THey also have it prepackaged in 1kg bags in the middle aisle. $10

2011 Sep 25
Now that I've figured out how to vacuum reseal pretty much any jar, I've be going around vacuum jaring stuff, starting with my green coffee beans. But unfortunately I found the corner of the bag with my torrefacto stash (the beans with the maple syrup glaze) gnawed open, and mouse droppings. They didn't touch anything else, just the torrefacto. I threw it all out.

Then I vacuum jared the Jamaica Blue Mountan, the Guatemalan, and the Ethiopia.

Vacuum jaring should be the best way to keep green beans fresh for a long, long time.

2011 Sep 26
Francis, what happened to your conclusion above that breathable storage was best for coffee beans?

As I've already mentioned, in my experience they keep perfectly fine for very long periods in just air tight containers. Not too long ago I stumbled upon some beans that had been stored in our cupboard that way for 3 or 4 years. Roasted them up and they were perfect.

It is only after being roasted that you really have to worry.

I have no doubt vacuum will be every so slightly better for them, but I'm not sure I would be able to tell the difference personally.

2011 Sep 26
@zym, you convinced me otherwise. I was basing that on "coffee university" at Sweet Marias, but even they say vacuum storage (green beans not roasted beans, which offgas) is best. And other places are saying green beans can be stored 10 years under vacuum - not that I would be keeping mine that long, unless coffee prices really drop and I can buy up a nice stash.

Another good thing about glass jars is that they are mice proof.

2011 Sep 26
FYI I was at my favorite Farm Boy on Merivale today, and they appear to have a new coffee supplier. They claim it's locally roasted and they post the date it was roasted. Today it said Sept. 21. I loved the aroma, bought some and will try it tomorrow.

2011 Sep 26
Yeah, they have been doing that since about January - good on them.

2011 Sep 26
Yes, I'm pretty sure Farm Boy is sourcing the coffee from equator.

2011 Sep 26
Equator? You sure? Because my understanding was that Farm Boy's pricing was substantially lower and on part with our pricing. Equator has the same high pricing as most of the micros around. Typically a supplier will not let you undersell them.

2011 Sep 27
At Kanata Centrum store - price is around 12/lbs. The selection looked an awful lot like Equator, but the boxes stored underneath the kiosk with bulk Equator coffee (vacuum sealed bags) gave it away. I don't remember if the price was exactly the same as the Equator marked bags (right next to the bulk display) but it was pretty close. The guarantee of roasted within X days is also something hard to track unless they are dealing with a smaller supplier (my guess anyway).

2011 Sep 27
You sure it is $12 per lb and not per 12 oz. A lot of retailers are doing the 12oz shuffle these days to fool consumers. And Equator happens to be one of them. But that is still cheaper than Equator's price.

2011 Sep 28
I'll check next time I'm in the store and post back here.

2011 Sep 28
Just googled it - as of Jan 2011 the price was 28.60/kg or 13/lb.

2011 Sep 28
Wow that's fantastic! And good to see a mainstream vendor lowering prices of good coffee. Let's hope it starts to put pressure on others to lower their prices to something more reasonable.

2011 Sep 28
The farm boy coffee is shockingly good for bulk grocery store coffee. Whenever I'm there, I pick some up!

2011 Sep 28
Agreed. I get their coffee quite often for my work brewer. Great flavour and cheap! I also love Zavida coffee.

2012 Jan 13
Tomorrow morning (Saturday) at around 8:15am my wife and I will be on CBC Radio 1 (91.5 FM) talking about home coffee roasting

2012 Jan 16
I had the radio on, then I said to my kid - hey thats Zym on the radio! Nice interview, you and your better half made roasting coffee at home seem very approachable.

2012 Jan 16
For anyone who missed it, it is right here :

Some friends commented that it was too bad they did not plug our business for us - that was actually at our request for reasons stated by sourdough - to make it more approachable. I think that had they mentioned we are pros that a lot of people would have automatically assumed that it cannot be as easy as we make it sound.

2017 Apr 2
For those home roasters out there, here is the latest green coffee offering from Tizita Bakeshop (The Injera Bakery

A Limmu Grade 1 washed.

My cupping notes:
City+ Roast
Citrus, berries and cocoa undertones.

Only $13 per kilo.

The pic I took of the sack while in the bakery.