Imagine this: Your alarm clock is going off and you stumble around mid dream to the realization that that is in fact, your alarm going off. DANG IT! Then you hit the snooze! A few times… When you finally get yourself up, you’re groggy and need coffee immediately. UNLESS! You’re a morning person and if that’s the case then BUG OFF! 😉
Yet we partake of the magic elixir known as coffee. I’ve swore I’m going to quit it over and over because I don’t like that it CONTROLS MY LIFE! and I do quit for a bout a month or more then I can’t take it anymore and I go right back to it. So to embrace my addiction hehe, I thought I’d talk a little about my history with coffee and tell you guys how to roast your own coffee beans.
My history with coffee
My first interaction with coffee was always being curious as a little girl wondering why my dad always ordered it at the Apple Tree (Which no longer exists in the little town on Sparta, it was replaced by a Chinese buffet). You know the little cups creamer comes in? Well, one time when my dad ordered coffee I expressed an interest and he made me a “mini” cup with the creamer cup and I tried it and liked it but that’s about as far as it went.
My next interaction was with my sister Tammy. I don’t support cigarette smoking whatsoever but I remember her saying, “If I have a cup of coffee and a cigarette in the morning, it’ll be a good day.” (She passed away in 2007, I sure do miss her!!) I never shared her love for coffee at that point but I was in my teens I didn’t need the extra energy. My love for coffee probably came from Jeremy (the hubs) because it was special to go in the morning to have coffee at Starbucks and chat.
In the process though… He created a monster. It started with a simple little vanilla latte, then to caramel fraps, then the specialty ones that are only seasonal (hate that btw!) My weakness was caramel brulee latte. LOVED IT but it was starting to get rather costly so as you know from a previous post, we invested in an espresso machine. Then, I would buy the starbucks syrup off of Ebay when it was out of “season.” Still expensive compared to making your own Syrups!
I go through phases. Sometimes I just want regular old coffee. Other times, I like my lattes. Still yet other times when I’m just in a hurry and don’t want to spend a lot of time, I like to brew an espresso shot by itself. Right now I’m kind of in the regular ole coffee stage but I’m getting to where I can’t stand Folgers anymore. Maybe it’s because since Jeremy’s coffee pot finally gave out he started using my percolator. The only way I used my percolator was the pot itself. I’d heat up water in my kettle and pour it over the grounds. I really liked it that way but now he has taken it over as his “Coffee Maker.” It reminds him of his grandma and grandpa because that’s how they always made their coffee but to me… It just taste burnt.
My newest coffee experience is that I have been ordering green coffee beans on Amazon and roasting them myself. I didn’t think it was that much of a difference but when I went to Starbucks the other day as a treat to myself–I got a White Mocha Latte–I was sorely disappointed! It tasted burnt, just over done. The latest coffee shop experience I had before that was at Dunkin Donuts. Then I tried Jeremy’s Folgers… Eck. Then I made my home roasted… DELICIOUS! Very mild. I LOVE IT!
So I guess I’ll tell you another way how I’ve ruined my life with coffee taking control yet again: roasting your own coffee beans.
Choose Your Poison
You need to find some green coffee beans. I just went to Amazon and looked around. The company I ended up using was Heirloom Coffee, LLC The first type I got was Costa Rica Dota Estate (Nectar) here’s the product info,
“We seldom get “nectar” coffee in the USA because it is such a limited picking. What makes “nectar” coffee? It is the first picking of the harvest, right after the rainy season, with the highest sugar content (sap/nectar) in the bean before the dry season really sets in. Farmers often give this micro-harvest special treatment, as in this case when the producer adjusted the washing methods to minimal water, to preserve some of the pulp to enrich the beans during sun drying.
The extraordinary nature of this first harvest starts from an incredibly select picking of ripest beans only, through special drying processes, resulting in a coffee so superb it is almost in a different class from anything else produced in the region that season. Move over Geisha, Dota Estate Nectar Coffee is in town!
When we talk about “sugar” in coffee, it is not to say that the coffee tastes like it has been sweetened, but rather that the character of the coffee is so smooth and free of bitterness due to the “nectar’ present in the bean during processing that the coffee is perfect for drinking black if desired. In Costa Rica, the tradition is to serve coffee with warm milk and sugar, but in the case of the nectar coffee, it is often consumed without any added sugar, because the brew already has a strong honey taste and tone to it. The amount of “honey” in the taste is adjusted by the roast level. You will enjoy trying this coffee at dark and medium roasts to compare the difference, it is amazing how different the profiles are.
We have a limited supply of rare nectar coffee, and when it is gone it will be unavailable until next season.
As with the main harvest, this coffee is safe & sustainably grown with virtually zero environmental impact, at altitude of 2000 m (~6000 feet), in Dota canton, Tarrazu.” 
My second pick was Nicaragua Matagalpa Catimor Arabica which I like even more. You can look up the info by clicking the link.
Choose Your Roasting Method
There are a couple of options. Depends what you have available to you and if you willing to purchase something to work for you. Originally I wanted to use a heat gun because I knew there was one abandoned on the homestead but it was broken– as I soon found out– so I ended up buying a popcorn air popper. (By the way, you’ll need to get one that blows hot air in from the sides and not upwards–not that I know that from experience or anything…)
- Stove top/frying pan method
- Oven roasting method
- Heat air gun method
- popcorn air popper method
- air roaster
There are you options but I’m only covering one and not too in depth. If you want more in depth, I learned from Sweet Marias. They go in depth and tell you different ways to roast your beans.
How to Roast Coffee Beans
It’s actually fairly simple and doesn’t need too much explanation but here you go anyway:
- Make sure there aren’t any rocks or debris in with you coffee beans. Depending on where you got them from… My place comes straight from the farm so sort it like you would regular beans.
- Add coffee beans to your air popper (I use a nostalgia, I got it from Bed Bath and Beyond for around $20) and don’t over do it. When you turn the machine on, they should spin. If they aren’t, you over filled it. Best way to know, measure your amount once you get it right the first time and just remember that’s what fits into your machine. (I should also tell you, you need to have a container to catch the chaff that’s going to shed off the beans)
- What you’re looking for as far as the roasting goes is “cracking” noises but since the popper is loud, you’ll have to pay attention. For me, most of the time I let it run a bit and just turn off to check the color but be careful because it will burn if you let them sit for too long. When I notice it is starting to brown I turn it off and listen for the crack. First crack (Blonde roast aka light roast) will be light sounds whereas Second Crack (medium roast) is a bit more volatile. You can go past that which leads to the darker roasts. If you go past that… I wouldn’t it. It will end up like the first batch I did…. Charcoal roast 😉
- Once you reach your roast preference, pour beans into colander or something similar to cool them. They them cool 4-8 hours.
- Grind up and enjoy!
Video of my air popper
As far as knowing your roasts and first and second crack here’s how to know from Sweet Marias:
“- Yellowing: For the first few minutes the bean remains greenish, then turn lighter yellowish and emit a grassy smell.
– Steam: The beans start to steam as their internal water content dissipates.
– 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.
– 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.
– 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.
– 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!
– 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.
– Ack!! Too Late!: Eventually, the sugars burn completely, and the roast will only result in a thin-bodied cup of “charcoal water.” 
My experience with roasting your own is that coffee is no longer bitter and you want regular creamer, not the flavored kind. You want to taste the coffee and it’s unique undertones. It’s completely different and a real treat. The cool thing is, you get to try different kinds. I especially like the place I order from because they seem to-most of the time-focus on small farmers and to help them gain business. It’s pretty neat to be a part of and to try new things is always nice as well. Hopefully this will cause that little curious part of you to leap out and make you want to try this! ENJOY!