Stovetop Coffee Roasting in a Cast Iron Pan (or Wok)

Roasting coffee can be as easy as using a skillet or a wok, and a wooden spoon. It’s fun and challenging!

Stovetop Coffee Roasting in a Cast Iron Pan

Other types of pans might be good too if they have very good heat distribution but generally aluminum or stainless steel (without some special bottom) are not ideal.

An induction burner might be quite good for pan roasting; I have not yet tried it. This is NOT how I normally roast coffee at home, since it is nearly impossible to avoid scorching coffee completely.

But patience pays off, and these roasts here cupped very well! -Tom

14 Responses

  1. I roast your coffee outside on my gas grill. My method has evolved over time. I use large cast iron pan. My son gave me a grill pizza stand. I use the bottom portion to get the pan off the grill, this allows the pan to warm more evenly. I warm the grill and pan to about 400-500 degrees. I measure out 12 oz of beans; if I use more the beans roast unevenly. I start a timer and put put the beans evenly in the pan. Every 2 minutes or so I stir the beans, they tend to roast more quickly around the edges. Roasting takes 15-20 minutes depending on the roast and weather; they roast best when the ambient temperature is 50-70. I winnow the chaff, best on a breezy day. Let rest 48 hours, then COFFEE. Disadvantage: winter makes roasting weather dependent. Advantage: don’t have to air out the kitchen.

    1. That pizza stand sounds like a great addition. My issue is trying to get even roasting initially and the direct flame-to-cast-iron contact isn’t ideal in this case. Also sounds like using the outdoor grill means you get more heat from the environment all around the pan and not only from the pan itself- I mean you close the grill to preheat ? And close it some during the roasting?

  2. I have been roasting with a hammered steel wok on a propane coleman stove. I end up with fairly even roasts but I would have quite a few scorchies if my flame was too hot. When I roast with the lower flame it would take 30 min. of constant stirring to struggle to get to first crack.
    I have recently added a heat gun to the process to heat the beans from the top as well as the bottom. It also serves as a chaff removal device as it blows it away during the roast. Being able to keep the heat on the beans from the top and bottom has produced a more uniform roast and has reduced the roast time dramatically. Definitely a messy and smokey process, but the challenge has been worth it and produced some great and not so great results in the learning process. I have now decided to invest in a Behmore 2600AB+ but will always keep the wok in reserve.

  3. Do you season the cast iron when you use a cast iron wok/skillet exclusively for coffee roasting? I’m afraid that the oil would affect the taste of the coffee.

    1. I don’t think seasoning is necessary … I also don’t think it would do much harm provided it was cleaned of any surface oils before roasting. But yeah, I agree if there was oil in the pan on the surface, that would impact the coffee roast flavor…

  4. Had a roaster once upon a time; it broke; couldn’t afford another so turned to my iron?steel? wok. Suits me fine- possibly because, at 94, my taste buds are past their best. Also, because my eardrums have probably followed the same path as my taste buds, I am not always aware of the 1st or 2nd cracks and instead rely upon the billows of smoke arising from the wok as I stir franticly. On one occasion this set off the fire alarm! Since then I have wokked before an open window. Of course this has its own hazards, such as passersby calling out “fire!”

    Strangely, after all this drama, the end result is a quite acceptable cuppa, well deserved (he thinks) after the stress and trauma surrounding its genesis.

    Nevertheless, the luxury of having a real honest-to-god roaster would be, well … a luxury!

    1. Still roasting coffee at 94, wow! I can hope to be so lucky. I, too, often prefer no-fuss and simple roasting methods to having to hook up, warm up, and dial in some of the other machines I have on hand. Finding a roaster that works for you is the highest achievement in my opinion, no matter what it is!

      Happy roasting Eric.


  5. Roasting in a popcorn popper feels like “cheating” to me. This pan method over a fire seems more authentic, more elemental if you will. Now some won’t care about that and that’s fine, enjoy your electric roasters or $1000 roasters or whatever…you do you. But me, I’m determined to master this way. I’ve done three roasts so far, my first being an undrinkable scorched disaster but my second two produced pretty good results. Doing another this week, going to try over a grill fire instead of gas oven.

    1. Yes agreed! it definitely is the way the pioneers roasted coffee – authentic in that regard for sure.

  6. I have been roasting in a carbon steel wok on a propane burner. I think the burner was designed for frying turkeys or making beer, I”m not sure as I bought it used. It has a dial to adjust the heat and I start low and work my way up in heat with constant stirring. I have had good success and am able to roast 1/2 lb. at a time. I may upgrade to an electric roaster eventually or maybe not, but this is working and with patience I get a good cup.

    1. You can get surprisingly good results using such a simple method! It’s nice that you can roast decent volumes too.


  7. Doing my second roast in cast iron
    I liked using my wire whisk ( has a metal ball in the cage) seems like it kept the beans airborne thru the process….

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