Coffee roasting pan. Copyright Unkai LLC 2023.

Our Home Coffee Roasting Adventure: Discoveries and Insights


We've been planning to dive into the world of home coffee roasting for a while now. What we sought was a method that's simple, affordable, and doesn't involve those big, clunky roasting machines that just don't fit our style.

Our checklist was pretty straightforward: we wanted a roasting method that was easygoing and fun, something we could do at home or even take on the road without crowding our kitchen counters or overpacking our bags. With the lovely San Diego weather on our side, we decided to give home coffee roasting a shot.

1. Getting Started

Green Coffee Beans preparation. Copyright Unkai LLC 2023.

Picking the Right Green Coffee Beans

Our first step was to get our hands on some unroasted beans. You know how picking roasted beans can be a bit of a puzzle with all the factors like where they're from, the type of beans, how they were dried, how long they've been aged, how dark they're roasted, and always we want them to be sourced from fair trade? Well, going with green (unroasted) beans takes some of that guesswork out, but there are still some subtleties to navigate. For those of you who want to explore green coffee beans, we've got the source we used listed at the end of this blog—they've got loads of info to help you out.

Choosing the Right Roasting Gear

Like we said earlier, we were all about keeping it simple. That meant we were looking for something that could be used at home (inside or outside), as well as during camping trips or travels, without any fuss. Electric roasters were out of the question—those prosumer home roasters can cost more and take up more space than an espresso machine! Even electric popcorn makers and air roasters adapted for coffee were a no-go. So, what worked for us? We found this nifty coffee roasting pan that ticked most of our boxes:

  • It's lightweight and easy to shake around on top of a burner, which is a must because roasting means constant movement.
  • It's compact enough to squeeze in with our coffee gear or camping supplies.
  • It comes with a top mesh that lets us keep tabs on what's happening with the beans, both visually and by sound. This is crucial for watching color changes and listening for those satisfying cracks.
  • Oh, and it's got a bonus feature—keeping the mess in check. As the beans roast, they shed a thin layer known as chaff, and that top mesh does a pretty good job of keeping it all inside the roasting pan.

The only downside? It doesn't handle massive batches. We tested it with a max of around 60 grams of coffee beans, usually enough for about four cups of coffee depending on your brewing style. For instance, Tetsu Kasuya's award-winning pour-over method uses 20 grams to whip up 300ml of coffee.

Setting the Scene

The best place to roast? Well, outdoors, of course! Whether it's in your backyard, on your balcony, or during a camping trip, having a portable gas burner is a game-changer. If outdoor space isn't on the menu, make sure you're under a range hood to handle the smoke and aroma that come with coffee roasting.

And, don't forget a timer or a timer app to help you keep track of the roasting time and guide you through the different phases.

2. Roasting the Beans

With our green coffee beans ready and the roasting pan prepped, it was time to get roasting: 

A. Preheat and Prepare

- Before diving into the roasting process, make sure everything's set up. Get your portable gas burner fired up outdoors, whether you're in the backyard, on the balcony, or wherever you've chosen to roast. If outdoor roasting isn't in the cards, opt for your trusty kitchen range hood to help manage the smoke and aroma.

B. Weighing and Loading the Beans

- Start by weighing your green coffee beans using a scale. While our Japanese coffee roasting pan supported a maximum of about 60 grams of beans, we strongly recommend starting with a smaller amount, around 20 grams. Early batches may not turn out perfectly, and working with smaller quantities makes it easier to keep the beans in constant motion and avoid waste. You can increase the quantity as you gain experience.

- Once weighed, load the beans into the roasting pan, ready to undergo the transformation from green to beautifully roasted.

C. Applying Heat and Staying Alert

- Place the loaded roasting pan on your portable gas burner and fire up the flame, setting the heat to medium to medium-high. From this point on, you'll need to stay alert and be ready for some continuous movement.

- As the beans heat up, give the pan a gentle shake in a circular motion, ensuring it's not too far from the flame. Every now and then, give it a bit of a stronger shake to keep those beans dancing. Roasting coffee is a dynamic process that demands constant agitation for an even roast.

D. Listening for the Cracks

- As the beans heat up and journey through the roasting process, you'll hear two distinctive cracking phases. The first crack, kind of like popcorn popping, signals the early stages of roasting and the caramelization of sugars.

- The second crack is a bit more subtle but tells you that the beans are headed into darker roast territory. You can choose to end the roast before this phase if you prefer a lighter roast or let it go a few minutes more for a deeper, darker roast profile. Ideally, the roasting process should wrap up in about 9-10 minutes. To hit these milestones within those rough time frames, use a timer and adjust your burner level as needed, starting to lower it as the roasting moves into the first crack.

E. Keeping an Eye on the Color

- Throughout the roasting process, watch the color of the beans closely. You'll notice a gradual shift from green to yellow, followed by various shades of brown. These color changes give you valuable hints about the roast level, helping you achieve the flavor you're aiming for.

F. Rapidly Cool Those Beans

- Once you've hit the roast level you want, it's time to cool the beans down pronto to stop the roasting process in its tracks. Transfer the roasted beans to a cool, flat surface or a metal colander, giving them a chance to chill out.

G. Understanding Roast Levels and Roasting Phases

Getting your head around roast levels is pretty important in the world of coffee roasting. Different roast levels bring out different flavors and aromas in your coffee. Light roasts tend to hold onto the beans' original flavors, while dark roasts uncover richer, smokier notes. Pay close attention to those first and second cracks—they're like the milestones of your roast.


Green Coffee Beans preparation. Copyright Unkai LLC 2023.


Our journey into home coffee roasting has been quite the adventure, filled with excitement, experiments, a few mishaps, and the sheer joy of brewing a cup of coffee from scratch.

As you embark on your own home coffee roasting journey, remember to take it easy, savor the process, stay present, and enjoy not just the coffee but the fascinating details you uncover about it. Don't let early hiccups discourage you; think of each roast as a chance to learn and get better. We are not trying to beat our much loved professional roasters.

So, dive into the joy of roasting your own coffee, explore different roast levels and roasting phases, and the satisfaction of brewing a cup that's truly yours. With every roast, you're not just making coffee; you're creating an experience, making home coffee roasting an adventure like no other. Experiment, learn from your slip-ups, iterate, improve, and, most importantly, savor your coffee, the unplugged way.

Here is where we got our green coffee beans (Brazil Canastra - Luis Otavio) from: [Sweet Maria's]( They're a treasure trove of green coffee and roasting info!

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