Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Home Coffee Roasting

So my other liquid love is coffee. After a long and hard search for quality/fresh locally roasted coffee I finally gave up (at least for the most part). I have a few friends who have tried out home coffee roasting and I was impressed with the quality of coffee they were roasting so I finally decided to give home roasting a try. I spent some time researching various roasters and finally ended up purchasing the Nesco Professional Coffee Roaster (still not sure why they call it a professional roaster considering it only roasts about 6-9 oz of coffee beans at a time). The machine which was formally called Zach and Dani's retails for about $150 to $200. I ended up purchasing the machine through Williams Brewing for $155. Since they threw in 2 lbs of Sumatra and Columbian green coffee beans it seemed to be the best online deal I could find on the machine.

One of the main issues I read about when research coffee roasters was the excessive smoke which is generate. Considering I would be roasting in my kitchen and figuring that my wife and 6 year old wouldn't be a big fan of the whole smoking coffee bean aroma the Nesco certainly caught my eye since it's the only roaster on the market with a patented catalytic converter. While it does seem to cut down on the excessive smoke that could be generated, I still end up activating the kitchen smoke alarm about 50% of the time that I roast.

Overall the machine is very easy to use. It consists of removable lid (makes cleaning much easier), a roasting chamber with built in auger, chaff cup, screen and two rubber seals (one goes around the roasting chamber the other around the catalytic converter). All removable parts can be easily cleaned in the dishwasher.

Roasting times are roughly 20 to 25 minutes depending on the roast you are going for. There is also a 5 minute cool down period after the roast is complete. Typically when
roasting coffee you are listening for the "cracks" but with the Nesco roaster you are more or less keep an eye on the color of the roast. There is a bit of a science or art to roasting using the machine but after a few roasts you will figure it out and overall it becomes a pretty easy machine to use.

The photos I have included kind of outline the process. First the lid of the machine are opened and the green coffee beans are loaded into the machine. The beans I
used during this roasting session were Hawaii Kona XF beans from Greenfield Farms purchased online through Sweet Marias. The roasting chamber is marked with a full line in addition to a dark roast fill line. A digital display allows you to set the roasting time (for this roast I used a 23 minute roasting time).

Once done roasting the lid is opened and the roast chamber screen chaff cup can be removed (warming it will be hot) chaff can be disposed of. The machine does a decent job at collecting the chaff although some typically still remains
in the beans. The instructions state to allow the roaster to cool for about 5 to 15 minutes but after doing some research online I had read that it is best to transfer the beans out of the roaster chamber sooner since the chamber does retain some heat and the beans would continue to roast. As with brewing the quicker you cool the better!

I typically let my beans sit for one to two days with the lid loosely in place to allow for proper off gassing. As I roast more and learn more about the process I will be sure to share via this blog. I just wanted to take this opportunity to introduce the concept and let you know the a little bit about the home roasting machine I have been using for about the past two months. There are certainly plenty of topics to explore when it comes to home roasting and brewing. Also if anyone would like to offer any suggestions for quality/fresh locally roasted coffee please feel free to share. I just haven't really had any luck over the past year or so. Sweet Marias and Roast Masters have done a much better job at summarizing how to use the machine in addition to providing detailed feedback so make sure you check out both of those links if you plan to explore the use of this roaster a bit more. Oh and in case you noticed the Coffee-Mate in the first photo...no I don't use that, it's strictly for guests who cannot yet handle their coffee black.


  1. Sorry for the formatting....the whole use of blogger is fairly new to me. If anyone reading this has any comments on what I may be doing wrong or wants to offer up some "how to use blogger" lessons I'm game. Thanks.

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