It’s no secret that we’re java junkies here at Shelterrific, but who else can claim that coffee is literally in their blood? (My grandmother’s maiden name? Coffee. No joke.) My birthright coffee geekdom previously consisted of meticulously pulled shots, seplaceing for the perfect foam, and even visiting a coffee plantation. But after being gifted a ziplock bag full of tiny, sage-green tinted beans — Kenya, Grade A — I was going to the next level.
I had seen a post about popcorn-popper home roasting a while back at Not Without Salt, but being without the means or inclination to purchase more equipment, I consulted my friend and polymath Solange, who has been playing with home roasting herself. She had been using her oven with great results. She pointed me to this basic how-to and off I went.
The site suggests using a perforated tray for air circulation, but the beans fell through my grill basket, so I just went with a basic baking sheet. I threw open all the windows, preheated my oven, popped in the tray filled with beans (in a single layer), and got a wooden spoon ready. After about 2 minutes of roasting, I opened the oven and began to shake the pan around, stirring the beans. The most important thing is to keep those beans moving. After about 5 minutes of moving and shaking, I finally started to see some color happening and a light, toasty aroma. I kept taking the pan out of the oven to check the color, which is a good guide, but there are also sounds to help you along. Once the beans get really roasting, the smell starts getting more intense and the beans will make a sound like popcorn popping. This stage is called “first crack”, and some people like to end roasting at this point, to preserve delicate, varietal aromas. I took mine a little darker, to a “city roast” — just before the beans go into the “second crack”.
Once the beans were roasted to my liking, I tossed them into a colander and blew off the chaff that comes off when roasting. After that, I tossed them in a tight-sealing jar and into a cupboard to let it off gas. This takes anywhere from 4-48 hours, depending on the roast. It’s hard to be patient, but those flavors really do have to develop. The darker the roast, the longer you wait. After waiting a whole 24 hours, I pulled my first double-shot of home-roasted Kenya. Worth the efforts, the crema was thick and creamy, the flavors juicy, sweet, and bright; without a doubt I’ll be doing this again. Maybe I’ll get to buying another method, but for now, this has worked great. Now I just need to get more green beans! — Megan B.