Roasting Your Own Coffee
I happen to be married to a coffee snob. We also live in the Northwestern United States, which is called by some the coffee capital of the world, not for growing it but for making interesting and yummy, foamy creamy drinks with it. My husband, bless his heart, is interested in all aspects of gourmet coffee. In fact, for Father's Day, we traveled six hours (with three young children) to Seattle to partake in the Northwest Coffee Festival. It doesn't get much nerdier than that. It's like Comic-Con for coffee.
One of the keys to a really smooth cup of Joe is a good, fresh roast. Our local favorite coffee shop roasts its own beans twice weekly, resulting in an espresso that that is incredibly flavorful and smooth. But you don't have to live near a shop to have fresh-roasted coffee. It's easy to roast your own beans at home. As a bonus, it smells amazing!
We tried roasting coffee at home in a cast-iron pan on the back yard barbecue. Green (unroasted) beans can be obtained from many online sources, and they keep for a long time. I have also been told that roasting on the stove or in the oven works too. Other friends have described their experiences using a popcorn popper to roast their coffee.
The important part of roasting is getting the beans to a consistent temperature of about 400 degrees Fahrenheit. They need to be stirred in order to roast evenly until you hear the second crack. A light roast will be stopped just before the second crack, while a darker roast may be somewhat after. In case you're wondering, the beans make a cracking sound during roasting, called the first crack. Then again, a little more quietly, the second crack sounds like soft popping sounds. On our backyard barbecue roaster, it took about 25 minutes to reach the second crack.
Once the roasting is finished, the beans need to be cooled quickly. We used a metal strainer, and swirled the hot beans until they were cooled, and the chaff blew away. From there, the beans ought to sit overnight before grinding and brewing.
We discovered that our home-roasted beans made a bright, flavorful cup of coffee. It was definitely more of a curiosity than a regular habit, but I'd like to try and refine our technique at some point. Still, it was fun to take beans through the whole process from green beans all the way to a fresh-brewed cup of warm deliciousness!