Coffee roasting Cookbook

Quick Guide to First Time Home Roasting

Do you have a hot air popcorn popper?  It’s easy to roast your own coffee.


Most coffee lovers are willing to grind their own beans to get a fresher and more flavorful cup of coffee, but roasting the beans has usually been left to the professionals:  No need!  You too can roast some great fresh coffee at home.


For the serious home roaster there are a wide variety of commercial bean roasters available.  There are electric, LP gas, and even roasters that hook up to your BBQ grill!  Many others choose, either for economy, because they are infrequent roasters, or simply like the simplicity of it, to roast their coffee in a variety of other ways at home including: in the oven, stove-top roasting with a crank-type popcorn popper, in a skillet, or most commonly, using a hot air popcorn popper.


Roasting with a Hot-Air Corn Popper

Its inexpensive, much more so than a coffee roaster, and you can pick up hot air poppers at most thrift stores by the gross.

What You Need

  • Hot-air popper.  Not all air poppers are suitable for use as a coffee bean roaster.  Looking down into the barrel of your machine, you should see that the hot air enters the chamber from side vents, NOT from a grate in the bottom. Chaff can accumulate on the bottom and become a fire hazard.
  • Large bowl to collect chaff.                                  ·    Sample beans roasted to style you prefer (for comparison).
  • Green beans (at least 1/2 cup).                              ·    Large metal colander for cooling.
    • 2 oven mitts or pot holders.


  • Make sure you’re working in a well-lit and well-ventilated area.  You’ll need to be able to watch the beans to determine when they are done to your liking, and there may be smoke and chaff flying around during the process. Position popper under kitchen exhaust fan or near open window to dissipate roasting smoke.  Can by done out-of-doors, but stay away from bad weather; low temperatures (under 50F) may prevent coffee from roasting properly.
  • Place in popping chamber as many green beans as you would corn kernels, anywhere from a half cup to a cup, depending on the popper.  Don’t overload the popper.  Besides, you don’t want to roast more coffee than you can use if a few days.
  • Make sure the plastic hood and butter cup are in place; they assist in maintaining proper temperatures in the roasting chamber.  Place a large bowl under chute opening to catch chaff.
  • Place sample roasted beans where they can be easily seen for color comparison to beans inside popper.  Make certain cooling colander and oven mitts are at hand.
  • Plug in or turn on your popper.  Turn on kitchen exhaust fan if indoors.
  • In approximately 3-4 minutes dark, coffee-smelling smoke will appear and beans will begin to crackle (“first crack”).
  • About 1 minute (for light to medium roasts) to 3 minutes (for moderately dark to dark roasts) after smoke appears and crackling sets in, begin checking color of beans by lifting out butter cup with oven mitt and peeking into popping chamber.  Continue checking color of roasting beans against color of sample beans at 30-second intervals.
  • Roast develops relatively quickly with hot air poppers: typically 5-6 minutes to medium roast, 7-8 minutes to medium-dark, 9 to dark.  Much longer and you’ll have burned beans.
  • Regular use to achieve very dark roasts (Italian, City or dark French) will shorten the life of a popper.
  • When roasting beans are same or slightly lighter color than sample beans, unplug or turn off popper and using oven mitts, immediately lift popper and pour beans out of popping chamber through chute opening into cooling colander.
  • Carry colander outside or place under kitchen exhaust fan and stir or toss beans until warm to touch. To accelerate cooling, you can spritz them with water from a spray bottle.

Voila!  You now have your own freshly roasted coffee beans. All you need is to grind and brew. You’ll never go back to pre-roasted coffee again.  Store your beans as you would any bought beans.

Taste Note: Hot-air poppers roast relatively quickly, thereby emphasizing bright, acidy notes in medium roasts and pungency in dark roasts. Taste tends to be clean and straightforward compared to more complex taste of beans roasted using other methods.

We are happy to give you detailed instructions on other home roasting methods, as well as help you track down more “serious” home roasting equipment.  High Country Coffee is NOT roasted using this method, and we offer these instructions only as an entrée to the wonders of home roasting for first-time gourmet

Sumbmitted by Amy & Cole, High Country Coffee