How To Roast Your Own Coffee

Home coffee roasting is as simple (or as technical), as you want to make it.

You can roast in your oven, re-purpose a popcorn popper, use a skillet or buy an actual coffee roasting appliance. Whatever method you use, you will be on your way to drinking much better coffee.

The basic process is simple: use heat to turn green unroasted coffee into brown roasted coffee. Roasting times vary, depending on the method and batch size, but you can expect the process to last about 10 minutes for smaller batches and about 16 minutes for larger batches.

step 1. choose a roaster

There are many ways to roast coffee. The method you choose should be influenced by how much roasted coffee you need and how much money you want to spend. Whether you choose a D.I.Y. approach or a small appliance depends mostly on if you want more or less automation.

D.I.Y methods are affordable and accessible.

We think using an electric popcorn popper is the best of the DIY methods. You can also use a skillet, a stovetop popcorn popper or a cookie sheet in your oven – while these methods are popular among home roasters, we think it requires a bit of experience to achieve good results.

Hot Air Popcorn Popper Instructions (Recommended)
Stovetop Instructions
Oven Roasting Instructions

Home Coffee Roasting appliances offer coffee specific features.

Depending on the model, machines made for home coffee roasting may offer chaff collection, smoke reduction, timers, temperature control, airflow regulation and digital automation. There is no “best” roaster per se, but there is a best one for you depending on how much coffee you want to roast per batch and how large of a machine you want to have sitting on your counter.  Air roasters are generally smaller, roast evenly without scorching, and are better for smaller batches. While drum roasters often roast more, these machines are typically larger, require more attention and generate more smoke.

See our Home Roasting FAQ for more help finding the right roaster for you.

step 2. choose green coffee
We always have a few dozen coffees to choose from so you shouldn’t have a problem finding beans that make your taste buds happy.

We suggest purchasing a Sweet Maria’s Sample Set to get started. Sample sets include 1lb bags of pre-selected coffees from the different growing regions we offer. Starting off with a sample set is an economical way to start roasting and become familiar with origin flavor characteristics. From there, your palate will have an idea of which ones are more delicious. This will help you narrow down which coffees you want to buy next.

Our Green Coffee FAQ will help take the mystery out of selecting.

step 3. the roast process

Understanding the different stages of the roast will help you control the flavor of your cup and appreciate how different roasts result in different cup flavors.

Here’s an image that provides an overview of the process:

coffee bean chart showing the degree of roast of each stage in the roast process from green to brown to black
Coffee bean chart I created many years ago showing the degree of roast of each stage in the roast process from green to brown to black. The gray stripes on either side of this image are a photographic 18% gray card. To my delight, I have found my photo here shared around the world, sometimes even with credit! I have seen it translated into many languages and edited with improvements. Cool!

  • 327 degrees F - Coffee bean macro image yellowing stage of roasting
  • 327 degrees F - Coffee bean macro image yellowing stage of roasting

Yellowing: For the first few minutes the bean remains greenish, then turns lighter yellowish and emits a grassy smell.
Steam: The beans start to steam as their internal water content dissipates. This is also known as the drying stage.

  • Just before First Crack - 393 degrees F - Coffee bean macro image browning stage of roasting
  • Just before First Crack - 393 degrees F - Coffee bean macro image browning stage of roasting

First Crack: The steam becomes fragrant. Soon you will hear the first crack, an audible cracking sound as the real roasting starts to occur: sugars begin to caramelize, bound-up water escapes, the structure of the bean breaks down and oils migrate from their little pockets outward.

  • Ending of First Crack - 426 degrees F - Coffee bean macro image during roasting
  • Ending of First Crack - 426 degrees F - Coffee bean macro image during roasting

First Roasted Stage: After the first crack, the roast can be considered complete any time according to your taste. The cracking is an audible cue, and, along with sight and smell, tells you what stage the roast is at. This is what is called a City roast.

  • Ending of First Crack - 435 degrees F - Coffee bean macro image during roasting
  • Ending of First Crack - 435 degrees F - Coffee bean macro image during roasting

Caramelization: Caramelization continues, oils migrate, and the bean expands in size as the roast becomes dark. As the roast progresses, this is a City + roast. Most of our roast recommendations stop at this point. When you are on the verge of second crack, that is a Full City roast.

  • Start of Second Crack - 444 degrees F - Coffee bean macro image during roasting
  • Start of Second Crack - 444 degrees F - Coffee bean macro image during roasting

Second Crack: At this point a second crack can be heard, often more volatile than the first. The roast character starts to eclipse the origin character of the beans at this point and is also known as a Vienna roast. A few pops into second crack is a Full City + roast. Roasting all the way through second crack may result in small pieces of bean being blown away like shrapnel!

  • Ending of Second Crack - 465 degrees F - Coffee bean macro image during roasting
  • Ending of Second Crack - 465 degrees F - Coffee bean macro image during roasting

Darkening Roast: As the roast becomes very dark, the smoke is more pungent as sugars burn completely, and the bean structure breaks down more and more. As the end of second crack approaches, you will achieve a French roast.

  • Extremely Dark - 486 degrees F - Coffee bean macro image during roasting
  • Extremely Dark - 486 degrees F - Coffee bean macro image during roasting

Ack!! Too Late!: Eventually, the sugars burn completely, and the roast will only result in a thin-bodied cup of “charcoal water.”

Check out our Use All Five Senses to Determine Roast Level and Using Sight to Determine Degree of Roast pages for more detailed information.

And for basics on the coffee aspect, see out Green Coffee FAQ

65 Responses

  1. This is a very confusing spot on your site. It would be easier to understand if it was played out as a chart. I can’t really tell what is being suggested between the Full City (City +), The Full City + (Vienna), and the French Roast. The coffee I roast become much larger during the 1st crack.

  2. Putting this here bc I dont think Sweet Maria’s has a forum for roasters. Im a newbie and could really use some help with my SR540! Im trying to capture fruit and floral notes in my beans but Im getting meh results. I usually roast to this schedule:

    minute 1-3 @ Fan 9, Heat 9
    minute 3-4 @ Fan 8, Heat 9
    minute 4-5 @ Fan 7, Heat 9 (first crack midway)
    ~cool 3 mins~

    I get mixed results, Ive never been blow away. I am lacking enough devp time? TIA!!

    1. Hey Ed – the best place to reach out for troubleshooting/roasting tips is via our email, [email protected]. I might recommend starting with a lower heat setting and ramping up to slow development time a bit. This article has some helpful theory regarding emphasizing those fruity/floral notes in your coffee. On the brewing side, I’d also try experimenting with a coarser grind and higher dose. Hope this helps!

    2. #1. Sounds somewhat like what I do, except, I turn the fan down (fan down = temp up) enough to get the roasting temp up into the 450 to 480 range and get to first crack. Once first crack is done fan back to 8 or 9 until temp drops to 400 to 425 range. Roast generally no longer than 12 min, 12 min is my basic roast time. I don’t favor anything approaching the burned/carbonized sugar taste or oily surface if I go too far. Fruity and floral are long gone if you get to this point anyway. I will dial back time on the fly if the color of the beans I am roasting get to a point I judge to be too dark or at any sign of oiliness, oiliness plays hell with my grinder. I make sure to get the fan back to 9 just before it goes into cool down mode. It seems there are lots of people that seem to think espresso beans need to be charred black and oily to make good espresso, me, not so much.

      #2 Standard batch size for me is 8oz. anything else and the above is all out the window. I am also of the opinion that if you don’t use your roasted beans in 5 to 7 days from roast they’re pretty much done after that. You will have to start chasing grind settings at 5 days and at 7 days, for me anyway, it is impossible to grind fine enough to get a 9 bar/40-45 sec pour. I use a large double basket and dose at 24 grams shooting for 48-50 grams in the cup at 40-45 seconds. Any ways if I can manage all this it produces a fairly palatable cup, to me at any rate, way the hell better than anything I’ve had anywhere in my burg. I very well could be the one out in left field here as I have no standard reference of what actually is a world class cup.

      So the take a way in all this is, don’t roast too dark and use what ever you roast in under 5-7 days, i.e. find a standard batch size and roasting profile, that lets you use what you roast in that window.

      Of course the variables go up exponentially if you start considering the bean or beans you choose to roast. I roast blends of green beans, I am told this is not ideal, probably should roast bean varietals separately then mix and grind, but for me this ends up with beans that have all to often gone past my self imposed use by date and therefore I am not able to hit my ideal pour window. Roast then mix might work for “some” high volume coffee shops/roasteries but home roasters not so much. All the (few) shops in my burg don’t or can’t meet my one absolute criteria that roasted beans absolutely must be less than 5-7 days old. None have/had a roasted on date on their products. This is the prime reason I roast my own. Even the one shop that I had a relationship with and knew when they would roast, I still ended up with beans that were dead before I could use them all up. I couldn’t drink up a pound of beans in 5 days. That business went out of business as they couldn’t or wouldn’t charge/sell at prices high enough to break even much less make a profit. They absolutely would not sell anything less than what they though was perfection even though a good proportion of their customers were likely quite unaware of what a prefect cup could be, me included. Selling into a market who’s standard of perfection is Maxwell House instant crystals is like trying to climb Mount Everest in flip flops and a thong.

    3. It’s interesting you keep the espresso fresher than 5-7 days max. I have more trouble with extraction on fresh roasts, so like to rest coffee at least 3-4 days. Maybe that’s the sweet spot for espresso when home roasting. Sounds like you have the method down to a science!

    4. Hi Ed,
      I don’t have the SR540 but this is what I do with my 1K gas drum roaster.
      I start with a medium high airflow about 80% of max and high heat 100% at full 1K load.
      At dry end (aprox 325F) I reduce the gas slightly and ramp up the airflow slightly.
      Approaching first crack (380F) I reduce gas to a value that will give me the desired roast level
      After first crack gets going (400F+) I increase air flow to final setting and reduce gas to finish as I approach the desired roast level.
      I have roasted with an iRoast electric fan roaster which is similar — The problem is higher fan lowers the heat and lower fan gives you more heat. You want your highest heat in the beginning and ramp it down from there keeping enough heat to get through first crack in about 8-9 minutes (which is about the best you can do with a hot air roaster). It’s hard to stretch a roast out to a decent length with a hot air roaster but you should try to get at least a 7 to 8 minute roast by reducing the heat more aggressively (with what ever works best fan or heat setting) from dry end (yellow -325F) ~ minute 3 on. If you see a drop of oil on any bean time to kill the heat and cool, it won’t get much better. Good Luck

    5. Yes Ross is exactly right – and it seems counter-intuitive at first… higher fan speeds lower the roast chamber bean temp. Less fan speed maintains more heat in the chamber. Also, adding more coffee can effectively raise the roast chamber temp as it block more exit air flow. Of course, if the coffee isn’t rotating sufficiently it will scorch so that needs to be avoided above all. Some people using air poppers simply resort to using more coffee but manually stirring the coffee for the first couple minutes until it spins freely on its own… That might work with the freshroast too, though it seems like a PIA

    6. You may want to try a few minutes at the beginning with lower heat, more of a low and slow approach to let that flavor develop a bit redirection take the heat up high.
      Also how many days are you resting after roast? Try adding another day then two and see if more flavor develops. You’ll find the sweet spot.

  3. So, I just did my first roast and my experience was not what I expected. Not sure I can tell the difference between first crack and second crack. To me it’s more like popping corn. first is gradual popping (cracking) followed by more cracking. So my question is, is first crack considered to be the first audible noise from the roast? I frankly would have no idea what 2nd crack is as this was not my experience. Can anyone shed more light on this for me?

    1. Hi Jason – this is a really good question and a fundamental one to to roasting. It’s hard to identify something you haven’t heard before … plus the sound of the popper obscures it. I’ve described the sound of first crack as a pop, more like popcorn. In fact it actually is the same thing happening to the popcorn kernel and the coffee bean: water internal to the bean has reached boiling point and is turning to steam / water vapor. Of course popcorn is a bit more dramatic when it hits that same point!. Second crack is different, and for me the closest sound is when you add milk to Rice Krispies. It’s a shallow sound snapping sound. The problem with some poppers is the roast process goes so fast that first crack and second crack can blur together, so you might be facing that: Initially you hear this real popping sound but it transitions without pause to a snapping sound.

      Your comment inspired me though: I made a short video today to try to document the difference in the sound of first and second crack. To get a clear recording, I roasted this batch in a skillet on a stove so there was no other sounds and the cracks were audible. I have to edit that though but just FYI I will post it this week.

  4. Cool, I look forward to seeing this. Thanks for the response and clarification. I did my second roast today, still using a cast iron skillet at this point. Hope to take a look at using an air popper in the future. I went a few minutes past the first audible crack and not into the second crack. I think the results will be better.

    1. Jason —

      You have so much joy ahead of you! People will wonder how you learned it all, and will marvel at your coffee. I started like 20 years ago with a popcorn popper and some green beans from Sweet Maria’s and burned the popper and another one out and enjoyed every step. Still learning like a novice, though. This is a good place for tips. (Also equipment — just got my first “real” roaster and it is awesome.)

      — Geoff B

  5. could you please also write up a post about flavoring your beans after roasting them? I am trying to find what flavoring product to get and how to flavor my coffee beans to get chocolate cherry flavor for instance. I’ve read that you need to “soak” them in the flavoring oil for overnight but also I’ve read contradictory articles as well. Thanks

  6. Hello,
    I am a freelance writer working on an article about grinding times for coffee beans. I am in search of a table or list of grind times for different brewing methods, along with a weight measurement of the coffee beans. Any information that you can provide on this topic would be great. If you could respond by Friday afternoon, I would be most appreciative. Your company comes highly recommended by a specialty coffee company here in Mobile, Al.
    Thank you!

    1. Thanks for your question – I don’t think we can help and I dont think i have ever seen a chart of grinding times for coffee. The only thing that comes to mind is that old “whirling blade” type grinders from companies like Krups would tell you how long to push the button the get a certain grind. I think a chart would be very grinder-specific, part of info on a retail box. But the grind time for one machine wouldnt apply to another. Anyway I hope you find your info!

  7. Thanks for this..all of this type of information helps the new guy like me; we know it’s just part of the journey but it is VERY helpful

  8. Maybe your roasting with the wrong kind of beans. try buying some Beans that have fruity and floral notes. I would Suggest Ethiopia.

  9. My FreshRoast is a conumdrum, or love/hate! I love it because it has infinite options to roast; I hate it because it has infinite options to roast. I live where it is in the high 90’s, low 100’s daily. Of course everybodies AC is blasting and that drags down the line voltage to 118-118 during the day. So I have to roast at 6 am, which isn’t bad as it gets me out of bed .
    But my question is about roasting dry process coffees, should I drag out the 1st craack a little? With variable voltage, every roast is a little different and I can’t tell whether its best to prolong the drying stage a little or hurry through it.
    Any advice would be welcome,
    Mike Thompson

    1. Hi Mike – yes that sounds like some extreme conditions for coffee roasting. For me the dry process tend to take a little more hear to get into first crack (also the cracks can sometimes be a bit harder to hear). So that in itself influences the roast profile, without really needing to make any adjustments to the roast machine. I think DP coffees tend to benefit from more rest after roasting. Sometimes I find the cup better 3 days after roasting than they do with 24 hours rest, IMO. With those kinds of temperatures (and assuming its dry climate) I would pay a lot of attention to storing green coffee in barrier bags or glass – it could dry out in storage, even in a couple weeks, if you don’t. (Same advice for very humid climates too – barrier storage is important!)

    1. I think once it is cooled in can go into sealed storage – although it might build up some pressure in something like a glass jar. Nothing wrong with that!

  10. This is very helpful! I’m trying to roast Arabica I hope this will work. I want my coffee to be made like this but I’m also thankful for the free espresso machine in the office.

  11. Good morning Thompson,

    I’ve been roasting in the Showtime with a hot air gun blasting in from a whole cut in the top of the oven and using a thermometer probe inserted into the oven through the side wall. The hot air gun can deliver either 800 or 1200 W . my beans are in a typical cylindrical basket that I purchased from Amazon for about $20. I preheat the oven for about 10 minutes until the interior temperature probe registers about 420 Fahrenheit. During the rosary will regulate the temperature by either opening the door or turning down the watts of the hot air gun.
    Moka Kadir is my favorite bean at this time. my roosts often tend to be uneven with some beans a lot lighter in color than the others at the point after the first crack. I’ve tried slowing down the roasting process during the drying stage by keeping the oven temperature around 400 Fahrenheit. usually I get first crack at about 8 to 9 minutes. I have read online that actually I should probably be having a higher temperature during the drawing says, what temperature do you think I should be trying to keep oven at? I realize that these are not really the temperatures that the beans are at
    If I do a roast with a higher temperatures for the first crack the beans come out very unevenly roasted with regard to their color. What suggestions do you have? Thank you

    1. Hey Alan, sounds like quite a DIY setup! I’ve seen a few rotisserie coffee roaster setups, and so much about the configuration is conducive to roasting coffee. It sounds like you’re getting pretty good results with your current regimen, but I’d be happy to help dial things in with a little more info too.

      To your question about what temp to warm up to, I think that’s going to depend on what type of roast you’re trying to achieve, and then of course, where the probe is located in relation to the heat gun. 420f reading on our Probat is likely a very different temp at the bean bed than 420f on your Showtime setup. 8-9 min first crack is a decent roast time for a small batch of coffee IMO. That’s about what you’d hope for in Behmor. How much time til 1st C at 420?

      Conventional wisdom would have your starting temp higher than at the end. That really depends on the roaster though. But I would think in your case it seems like extending development time a little might help the beans find equilibrium, and some roast uniformity. That said, Moka Kadir is all dry process coffees, so I would expect some color variance unless going way into 2nd Crack.

      What are your batch sizes like? Is there plenty of room left in the drum for the beans to shift around when rotating so that you get an even roast?

      Thanks for writing in about your roaster. Hopefully you’re enjoying the results you’re getting with it, which is the most important thing!


  12. I did my first roast but I think it was too long. I have a roaster and everything I read said 185 to start and increase to 225. Either my thermostat is wrong or I roasted too long. Any suggestions? I didn’t leave the roaster at all and I think I should have roasted a shorter amount of time.

    1. Hi Bobby – those temperatures are pretty low, but it depends on how the thermometer probe is positioned in the coffee (or in the hot air stream). If its directly in the coffee, first crack should happen about 385 -400 f

    2. Sorry, I should have specified.. my temperature is in Celsius not Fahrenheit. I think that was part of my issue.

  13. Hello! My name is Sam, and I started home roasting over a year ago, using much of the information and videos Sweet Maria’s has made. I recently took a break for several months until I got (or made, with help) a more official roaster: based off of the Kaldi Mini roaster.

    Anyway, in regards to optimal flavor, may I ask what would be the typical recommendation for degassing/resting a relatively dark roast (achieved some 2nd crack, and then stopped) to be used in espresso, as well as, a Moka pot?

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Sam – I think darker roasts benefit from a little more rest time after roasting especially for espresso. I have pulled shots from very fresh roasts (12 hours rest) and had really bad results, not only in flavor but in the physics of the shot. Just really bad extraction. Same coffee with 3 days rest, whole different result, and much better. Dark roasts would tend to degas faster as the coffee structure is fractured in 2nd crack. But for espresso etc, really benefits from 36-48 hours of rest!

  14. Fun read, but I am too big of a lout to roast my own.
    Beginning to get a small handle on flavors. Coffee shop lingo is over my head.
    Eight O’Clock french roast is good enough for me.
    Don’t spoil my coffee with additives, that includes sugar and cream.

    1. Honestly, if you’ve found coffee that works for you, you’re already batting 1000! But should you decide to dip your toes into roasting at home, we’re here to help 😉

      Thanks for taking the time to read our post David.


    1. I can tell you its never too late to start ROASTING :D..

      I tried a couple of the roasters out there, the latest one I had was Gene Kafe. It was good, best one I had tired for sure but still a real pain. If you are slightly interested in roasting and have some money to play with I would recomend kaffelogic. They have a roaster they just made for the US and it can be as easy or as hard as you want it. You can start roasting beans with literally 2 buttons. You can go really complicated or just go with preloaded formula’s.
      Im not gonna slam 8’oclock coffee but the beens SweetMarias sells are really good and then drinking them freshly roasted is absolutley amazing. Im 48 so I can’t have coffee late anymore but when I get home all I want is a cup of coffee because its just sooo good. I just ordered some green decaf beans which I hope give me the same satisfaction.
      I say go for it!! get a roaster and see what happens… I send my family some of my roasts from time to time and they are so appreciative.. it’s really a fun hobby.

    2. Hey, thanks for the kind words! The Kaffelogic roasters are quite nice. It’s nice to have the functionality options in any roaster, like you said! Not everyone cares to do the deep dive, but the ability to complicate things is there should you feel so inclined :-).

      Glad to hear you’re enjoying the home roasting hobby. We’re with you 100%.


    3. Hi David,
      12 days short of 85 here. I enjoy roasting my own coffee. Sweet Maria’s has been my source of beans for years.


    4. Happy early birthday Paul! While we appreciate all inquiries, testimonials like yours never fail to make our day. Cheers Paul, and hope your birthday is one for the books.


  15. I upgraded from the red air popper to a SR800 and having trouble reproducing my results on naturals. Initially, I used a slower development and total time of 7-9 minutes trying to start cooling 30 seconds into rolling 1st crack. The result was flat taste and no fruit. I pulled out the popper to confirm that it’s a roasting issue and got good results with a total time of ~4:30. Roasting as fast as possible in SR800 (5-5:30) has helped but still not as good as the air popper. Any advice? Really looking forward to this year’s crop of Timor Dukurai Daurfuso- our favorite coffee so far.

    1. Hi Shane. I think shortening the roast time is a good start, and should help achieve a more dynamic cup. 9 minutes isn’t long on some roasters, but I agree with shortening that overall duration when air roasting small batches like this. On our Popper (is a Coffee Roaster), I would shoot for 1st C by about 5 min, pulling around 1 minute after rolling 1st is underway.

      What coffee are you roasting? What is it about the profile you’re getting from the Popper that you like better? That might help us give better advice to your specific situation.

      I’ll just add that I’m always blown away by how nice some of my Popper roasts taste! My #1 recommendation to ANYONE looking to try their hand at coffee roasting. Great, low cost entry point with unparalleled visual access to the green during the roasting process.


    2. If you haven’t already, consider getting the extender tube for the SR800 – It has been a game changer for our roasts!

  16. Hi! My husband roasts in the stovetop popcorn popper purchased from this website! I’m here though looking for some diy or store bought mid ranged priced chaff removers. We live in an apt and do not have the luxury of blowing the chaff outside. And I am tried of cleaning chaff from the nooks and crannies around my kitchen sink lol . Please help!

    1. Hi Gail, thanks for reaching out! Unfortunately, that particular roaster isn’t really conducive to chaff collection by design. There isn’t an airflow circuit to move the chaff to a specific location, or lid to help direct the chaff, like a popcorn popper (though they aren’t that good at it!). One thought would be come up with a DIY shop-vac system that could somehow be positioned above the opening and turned on when the chaff starts to separate from the seeds. That could be a bit cumbersome though. You could check the pages at too, and see if someone there has come up with a solution. I’m going to ask around myself and hope to circle back with more info…


  17. The newer SR 500 series roasters offer far more flexibility in choosing settings. This is good and bad. I’ve been air roasting for 7 or 8 years now. I’ve found the permutations and combinations of roasting settings to be maddening, and I am an engineer. I now tend to set the same fan speed and heat and a general time of 5.9 minutes which was the old SR 500 default. I set the fan to 5 and the heat to max at 9. Then I watch as the time gets to 5 minutes . If the roast is not dark enough then I extend the time in 30 second increments past 5.9 minutes. If it’s done early, I go to cool. Once it is visually to my taste, I go to cool and jack the fan to 9.

    I’ve played around and this is simple and works almost all the time. I am also not a creature of habit and order the eight pound samplers every 9 or so weeks so I can taste more and more kinds of coffee. All have been good. The only meh bean to me was the recent Indian coffee which has very light and uninteresting taste to me which I added to an order.; Every sampler has been great. I’ve had hundreds of coffees from all over and these settings work pretty damn well. Decaf takes a little less time.

    I offer this for the confused. It’s not that hard.

    1. Hey Steve,

      Thanks for the comment. I’m a big fan of keeping things simple myself, which echoes through my coffee roasting habits as well (brewing too!). Sure, it’s nice to have more control option at the ready. But I tend to find something that works for me, and stick with it. Glad I’m not alone.

      Good to hear you’re enjoying our sample sets. When you add up the 1# price of all the inclusions, they really are a great value!

      The Indian Arabica’s we’ve had have been pretty mild. I think the India you received was likely Araku Valley. I preferred a little more roast on that one to bring out the bittersweetness, balance out some of the subtle earthy notes. Definitely not a showy coffee though.

      Thanks again for chiming in Steve.


  18. Hi all, i’m trying to decide if I should roast my own beans.

    Currently, I am ordering beans from the best roasters like Stumptown and Klatch, and they arrive within a few days of roasting. I enjoy the variety of roasts with different nuanced flavors. My wife likes a classic chocolatey tasting espresso.

    If I buy the hundred dollar starter kit and invest three or four hours learning, will I be able to get flavors that are satisfying?

    1. We think so! Your mileage may vary of course, as with any DIY hobby. Some of that depends on equipment, and a lot of it depends on the operator. When any of my friends ask about getting started, I always tell them to start with a popcorn popper. They are a low cost entry point to test the waters, and you can get really nice light-to-medium roasts from them. They are also probably one of the best learning tools as the visual access to the coffee is unparalleled, so you can see the roasting process as the coffee develops.

      Here’s our must budget friendly Popcorn Popper ($24.00), or you can buy as a kit here for about twice that cost, and it comes with a bunch of coffee and extras.

      Let us know if you have any other questions about getting started!


  19. I use two 11-inch stainless steel salad bowls and a standard heat gun (high setting) to roast 300-400 grams of green coffee beans with a gentle circular motion, occasionally using the gun to stir the beans, until they’re light brown, past first crack but not second. Then the hot beans are poured back and forth between the bowls until the chaff has blown away. Perfect uniform City roast every time. What could be simpler than that? Ethiopian yirgacheffe reveals its floral character with this approach.

    1. I love it. Heat gun roasting can be really nice when you have the technique down, as you do!

  20. After a very long hiatus, I’ve started to get back into roasting again. Fortunately, I still have my Gene Cafe. When I was roasting several years ago I was doing quite well with it, having established a routine. But it’s been so long I’m coming at it as a novice. I get that you set the temp on high and reduce it after first crack, but I’ve forgotten what I reduced it to. Can you give me some idea, generally speaking. And by the way, I love the machine and recommend it highly. Thanks.

    1. Welcome back! I do think you’re on the right path with the Gene Cafe in terms of starting high to get through the drying phase, and reducing temperature in stages towards first crack. But I think the level adjustment depends a lot on your line voltage and other factors like ambient temperature. I find 20% reduction usually works to have a nice controlled first crack … to slow things down to draw it out, but not stall the roast.

  21. Been home roasting a long time. Started with the dog bowl heat gun method, then the hot air popper, then moved up to the turbo oven method now roasting on a Gene.

    1. Thats great – I had done some videos about “heat gun dog bowl” because I think it can be great. My problem is that I am not very good at it. It takes a certain touch to get good results IMO.

  22. Can I brew coffee or espresso with beans that have just been roasted? I’d think the answer is yes, but I’ve seen comments that people store them up to several days before brewing to allow for “off-gassing” or something and to allow the flavors to develop. This seems counterintuitive to me in the sense that the reward of home roasting seems to be to drink coffee from beans that are as freshly roasted as possible, but I may be mistaken here. Do you have any advice for whether it’s advisable to store roasted beans to allow the flavors to develop? Many thanks.

    1. Hey Chip,

      How long one waits to brew coffee after roasting is mostly a matter of preference. If you prefer the way your coffee tastes straight after roasting, go for it! That being said, many people do allow coffee to rest before brewing, especially if preparing espresso. When I was working in specialty coffee shops, we often found that blends reached peak flavor between day 3 and 7 and single origin coffees between day 7 and 14, post roast. That wasn’t always the case, but that was the general trend. Here at the office we usually try to wait 24 hours.

      A more technical reason people may wait has to do with extraction. Excessive CO2 off-gassing can introduce turbulence into the brew bed and water stream when brewing, which can lead to inconsistencies during extraction. For espresso, the shots using extremely fresh roasted coffee were often “foamy” for lack of a better term. Again, this might be a characteristic the people really enjoy, but in my experience it isn’t a desirable characteristic. Happy brewing and extracting!

  23. Just found this great forum. I have been a sweet Maria’s customer for several years. I have used two fresh roast machines, a gene café, and some other brand that looks like a toaster oven. The gene café worked great for about a year and then it Went up in flames and had to be discarded. The fresh roast SR 800 is fragile and much cheaper than the Gene café. but if you treat it carefully seems to put out a very consistent brew. Just don’t drop it!
    As far as roasting technique, I start out on the lowest fan setting for about 10-20 seconds, then bump it up to nine to agitate the beans very briefly. I repeat this process throughout a total cycle length around 7 to 8 minutes until the smell and color seem right. If you know something I could do better, please let me know. I’m not that sophisticated and cannot tell first from second crack. It would be fun to be able to program temperature and computer profiles, but the cost would be prohibitive. My uniformity is probably not the best but my wife and I like what I’m doing. Thanks for being a fantastic supply and support team!

    1. Well thank you for helping us do what we do, Kenneth! I hear you on the Freshroast – I have dropped the base, roast chamber and the chaff top at different times and it doesnt survive well (especially on concrete!) I learned to handle it with some care, the hard way. I think using the fan speed like you do is effective – the high speed to move the coffee and low speed to increase the heat. In fact the hold Hearthware roasted did this cycle automatically, and it was effective – but other things about that roaster design were not. Anyway it sounds like it is working well for you!

  24. I am new to coffee roasting. I have the fresh roast sr540 and I was wondering what is a normal time frame for roasting coffee and why does some of my batches smell like bread and one smells like normal coffee. I typically like medium to medium dark roast with the occasional light roast throughout the week. I’ve only done 4 roast so far.

    1. Ideally coffee rests at least 12 hours after roasting. We regularly have to taste sample roasts sooner though, but its best to give it an overnight rest.

  25. Well, I found some Sweet Maria’s green beans in my closet. According to the invoice they are nearly 2 1/2 years old. Are these still usable? They have been kept in dark, fairly temp controlled (60-75 degrees) all that time. Thanks.

    1. They are definitely usable, but will likely have “age” flavors at this point, which can come through as paper/cardboard. There’s no danger in drinking it though. I’m way too curious a person to throw them out, and would likely roast a batch to see how the coffee’s changed over time! If you decide to try them, feel free to reply back with your results 🙂


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