Green Coffee Beans

Written by Helen Glenn Court
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One obvious answer to the endless quest for fresh coffee is to roast your own. And, no, it doesn't take the industrial equipment you might think it does. Coffee, after all, has been grown and cultivated for more than 1,000 years. It has been roasted and ground to a powder and brewed for just about as long. You needn't be a Starbucks or a Procter and Gamble, to name two, to roast coffee properly.

Roasting Coffee at Home

Roasting green coffee beans at home, in fact, has grown more and more popular among U.S. coffee drinkers in the last several years. If you think about it, this is no big surprise. The cost of the equipment for roasting is considerably less than the cost of a good espresso maker, certainly far less than even several months' worth of coffee beans.

Step back and look at the price of the gourmet coffee you find in the grocery aisles and specialty food shops. What is it, anywhere from $7 to perhaps $17 a pound on average, right? One person drinking a couple cups a day during the week and perhaps a bit more on the weekends will go through a pound of coffee in two weeks, certainly.

What does one need to roast coffee at home? There are several ways to home roast. Which you choose will depend in part on the type of coffee you favor. Popcorn poppers, of all things, whether the electric hot air or stove top variety, yield a consistent roast slightly high on the acidity side, a clean taste, and good aroma. Gas ovens take a bit of experimenting, but offer precise control, efficiency, and a first-rate roasting job. The option, of course, of spending $100 or $200 on roaster designed expressly for the consumer is always out there.

What's most important is to understand the process. Roasting at too low a temperature, for example, produces a coffee with little to no aroma, a pale color, and a sour taste. Roasting for too long at a lower temperature yields a flat, almost stale coffee. Roasting at too high a temperature will, of course, not only burn the coffee but burn the oil within the bean that emits the flavor. Learning how to roast with one's senses rather than by formula is important. It's why roasting has long been called and recognized as being as much art as science.

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