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The Quick Guide for Stovetop Roasting Using an Old Fashioned Popcorn Popper

One of the least expensive ways to roast green coffee beans at home is to use an old fashioned stovetop popcorn popper (like the one below).  

Follow these instructions and you should be successful. Please note that exact science in terms of exact temperatures may be thrown out the window because although you can use the thermometer with a clip to gauge the temperature, sometimes your eyes and ears are the best judges of whether your beans are done.

1.  The first step is to make sure that the popper comes in to direct contact with your stove element as it needs direct heat in order to get to the cracking stages.  Actually, the first step is to buy some green coffee beans from me but that goes without say!

2.  You will need to preheat the burner on a high heat (popper on the element as well) for about 10 minutes before putting the beans in the popper.

3.  The reason for using the hand crank is simple: you will need to constantly stir the beans in the popper to make sure that they are evenly roasted and that the ones on the bottom don't burn.  It's similar to the actual process of making popcorn in this popper.  The whole process should take about 10-15 minutes, cranking every 2-3 seconds for even roasting.

4.  You can also check the colour of the beans by either leaving open the half lid or by checking in occasionally on what's going on inside the popper.  The beans will go from green to yellow, expanding along the way as water is released from the beans.  They will then go from yellow to brown and when this happens, they start making a cracking sound which is audible.  This is called the "first cracking" and if you remove the beans at this point, you will get a light roast, which is not the way most people like their coffee to taste.  

5.  If you leave it a few minutes after you hear the first cracking, you will get a darker roast and if you leave it a bit longer still, you will get to the "second cracking" which is not as audible but is one that you should hear.  The beans should be browning evenly at this point and usually this is the point where people remove the beans from the heat.  

6. If you want an even darker roast, leave it for about 30 seconds after you hear the second cracking but not much after that.  If you leave it on too long after the second cracking, you will actually end up burning the beans and you will render them useless.  If they start smoking a lot and if they start smelling burnt, you know you have pushed the beans over the edge and it's time to order another batch of green beans from me.

7.  Use a baking sheet to spread the roasted beans out on to cool.  Let the beans sit 12-24 hours to off gas CO2 and then you can put them in an airtight container.  Newly roasted beans usually stay fresh for up to two weeks.  

Roasting small batches of green coffee beans is the best way to go if you want to optimize flavour and freshness.  I know the Costco size bag of roasted beans always seems enticing but I'm sure most of us have that bag in our cupboard for way longer than two weeks.  Why not try roasting your own?

If you want to be completely by the book in terms of measuring temperatures, you can go to my other page titled  "Roasting Coffee-The Technical Way."

Hopefully, if you have been successful, you will have a nice cup of java that looks like this:


Good Luck!