Popper equals Roaster

You can roast your own coffee at home? Why, yes!

I’ve been a coffee aficionado since I took my first sip at the age of 12.  My high school friends and I used to hang out in coffee shops in Thunder Bay, Ontario,  to do homework or kill time reading magazines.  One of my first jobs was at Robin’s Donuts, slinging coffee and eating dispensing donuts.  In college, a number of my friends worked at an independent coffee shop in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  When I moved to Missouri (for the first time) in 2008, I got my chance to really take my affinity to the next level: I got a job as a barista.  Once I started working behind the counter, I realized just how much I didn’t know about this substance that plays a significant role in fueling me.

Coffee grows in a lot of different countries, producing crops of coffee that have countless flavor profiles.  Just like different grapes produce distinct wines, different coffee beans render a vast variety of coffees.  With just a little practice, you can start to detect the distinct qualities of different coffees (I think it’s even easier than telling the difference between wines!).  Check out your local independent coffee shops to see if they hold coffee tastings, or cuppings, so you can familiarize yourself with the profiles of distinct coffees.

When I was a barista, I had a couple of chances to go to the Kaldi’s roasting facility in St Louis.  There I got to see those beans in action!  How do frosted green-colored beans that smell like foliage become caramel-tinted nuggets of brewable goodness?  Well, you put them in a special oven.  The whole process just takes a few minutes from start to finish; the trick is really to stop before the beans are scorched into flavorless carbon.  It was really fun to take fieldtrips to see the giant machine that roasts 25 kilograms at a time, but I’ve really wanted to do it myself for a long time.

Enter my brand new air-pop popcorn popper.  Since I’m getting in touch with my inner creativity and all, I figured now is as good a time as any to try to craft my own morning (and mid-morning, and afternoon…) coffee.  You only have to spend about 3.2 seconds on the internet to find Sweet Maria’s, the self-proclaimed ‘virtual coffee university.’  They sell green coffee beans by mail-order to regular folks like me.  They have wonderful instructions, including step-by-step videos, and a huge selection of beans to get started.  And the best part?  All you need is an air popper, which lots of folks just have lying around anyway.  The only other tools I used were a vegetable steamer and my Grandma’s old colander for cooling off the beans, and a trusty wooden spoon to stir the beans and circulate the cool air upon removal from the popper/roaster.

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4 thoughts on “Popper equals Roaster

  1. Very cool. In Ethiopia, they try to roast the beans so that they start to “sweat”.

    Kaldi’s is also the name of the largest upscale coffee chain here in Ethiopia.

    • Legend has it that “Kaldi” was the name of a man whose goats became very lively after eating mysterious fruits in the mountains of Ethiopia. Kaldi tracked down the source and ta-da! coffee!

  2. if only I had known about this way before – our house in australia has 2 arabica coffee trees. However, it is SUCH a long process to get to the white bean stage that i only once got to the roasting stage. And in the oven on a cookie sheet was such a pain. When we move back to our house eventually, I’ll remember this secret!

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