Once you master the art of the pour-over, the next step in coffee nerdery is to start roasting your own beans. But it’s the sort of thing that can sound intimidating at first. Lots of coffee drinkers may have never even seen green, unroasted coffee beans. Others might assume you need a dedicated roasting machine that can run over $1,000. You don’t. You don’t even need to spend $30.
Coffee fiend Ruth Brown’s new book, Coffee Nerd: How to Have Your Coffee and Drink It Too, has everything you could want to know about coffee, from its history to tasting notes to which espresso drinks you should care about (and which you absolutely should not).
It also has incredibly simple instructions on how to roast your own beans using equipment you almost certainly have on hand: an oven (preferably gas) and a baking sheet.
Just beware of the coffee-roasting rabbit hole. You might turn into a fanatic. As Ruth points out, “If regular coffee nerds were Trekkies, homeroasters would be the people who write Star Trek fan fiction.”
Here's how to do it.
Gas Oven Roasting — From Coffee Nerd
You need a small amount of green beans (1 pound typically costs between $5 and $10), a perforated baking pan (if you don’t have one, a kitchenware store or your great-aunt will) and a metal colander. You might also want to crack open a window or 10 for this—there will be smoke.
1. Preheat the oven to 500° (or 450°, if it is a convection oven).
2. Spread a single layer of beans across the pan (only the perforated part of it).
3. When the oven is ready, place the pan onto the middle shelf.
4. You should start to hear the first crack somewhere around 7 minutes (maybe more in a convection oven), and you should be able to see that the beans are turning brown.
5. Wait at least a couple more minutes, then either take the tray out (use oven mitts!) or wait a few more minutes until the beans are almost at the color you desire (they will continue to roast for a bit after you take them out, so don’t wait too long).
6. Dump the beans into your colander. Stand over a sink or go outdoors, and shake them around. This will cool them down and get rid of the chaff (the little bits of parchment that didn’t get removed at the mill), which can get pretty messy. The faster you can cool your beans off, the better.
If your interest is piqued, Ruth recommends ordering green beans from Sweet Maria’s and Roastmasters. And to find out what else she has to say about coffee, you can find Coffee Nerd here. If you’re in the New York area, Ruth will be signing books at the Green Light Bookstore in Brooklyn on Jan. 22 at 7:30 p.m.