The best way to roast your own coffee

Forget the time-consuming ‘roast your coffee beans in a pan over gas’ method. Get hi-tech and use a heat gun! The results are a coffee-holic’s dream come true.

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As a coffee maniac of long standing, the pursuit of the perfect cup of home-made coffee dominates my day. Previously, I’d roast my beans in a stainless steel frying pan over a hot gas flame, stirring madly all the time. Good though this method is, it takes up to 20 minutes and can easily produce an uneven roast. This is not good.

But why does a fresh roast matter? Surely 100% pure Ethiopian beans roasted industrially then ground immediately prior to preparation in a Bialetti moka pot should be sufficient? This is good, I grant you. But the search for perfection is only partially achieved. The reason is simple. The act of roasting produces a delicious transformation to the green coffee bean which sadly begins to degrade almost at once.

This decline in aroma and flavour is due entirely to the double negative action of light and oxygen. So what is a coffee freak like me to do? As noted, the ‘frying pan over gas’ method is primitive and unpredictable, not to mention very slow. When you drink the volume and quality of coffee that I do, time seems to move much faster than it does for other people. It follows that a quicker method of roasting would be just the ticket.

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I could buy a patented electric home roaster for a couple of thousand US dollars. Or I could take the advice of artisanal baker Graeme Taute and use a heat gun and stainless steel pot. Now Graeme would be the last person to claim that he invented this procedure. He’s just the channel for the good news.

And boy, does this method work!

You’ll need a standard stainless steel saucepan and an electric heat gun. I own a Ryobi 2 000W with two heat settings. I pour a standard cup of green coffee beans into the pot and blast them with the Ryobi. I find it’s best to keep the nozzle about 75mm from the beans. The airflow is vigorous enough to tumble the beans, thus negating the need to stir.

My preference is for a full roast. This takes seven minutes with my Ryobi on the high setting. It’s best to do this outdoors since the roasting produces a surprising amount of chaff which settles over everything. Then there’s the smoke as well. As soon as the beans are as roasted as you like (you can tell by the colour) turn them into a colander to cool. Stir for the first minute to shut down the passive roasting from the residual heat.

When cool, grind the amount you need, fill up the bottom half of your moka pot with boiling water, stick it on the hob at medium heat and drink your coffee black or with a teaspoon or two of room temperature milk. Sugar, if needed, should be brown. Enjoy.

Contact David Basckin at [email protected]. Please state ‘Real cooking’ in the subject line of your email.