Turns out it's a fairly cheap hobby to get started on. All you really need are a popcorn popper (this is the one we're using), some green (unroasted) coffee beans, a metal colander and some Mason jars for storage.
We ordered our beans from Sweet Maria's. Since we're just getting started and don't know our coffee preferences yet, we ordered the 8 lb. random sampler. About a week and a half later, we had a box full of 8 lbs. of unroasted coffee from varying parts of the globe. Eager to dive in, we picked one of the one-pound bags and got started:
|It's hard to read, but this is "Java Sunda Pitaloka"|
According to their directions, coffee starts to be drinkable after approximately three minutes of roasting, once you hear the "first crack". Total roasting time, even for dark roasts, isn't supposed to be much longer than five minutes. We decided on a slightly darker roast, browning the beans until "second crack", which occurred after about three and a half minutes. We took it a few seconds longer, to about three minutes, forty seconds. Then we poured out the beans into a metal colander, shaking them to separate the chaff (and there was quite a bit of chaff). Once they cooled to room temperature, we placed the beans into a Mason jar to sit overnight. You're supposed to let the roast sit for several hours to bring out the flavor.
|The final product|
Next morning, Tom ground and brewed the coffee before I awoke. (Side note: apparently electric grinders, like the kind we have, are the worst for grinding coffee. They don't provide the desired uniformity of pulverization. If we progress in this hobby, we'll be investing in a burr grinder.)
What surprised me was how light/weak the roast was, compared to what we buy at the store. Granted, you're supposed to measure the grounds and water precisely, which we didn't, so I'm not sure how far we were from the "ideal" mark. The coffee was drinkable, but far too light. Next time I'm going to take the roast to about four and a half minutes and see what that does. Another fun fact: roasting coffee for different lengths of time brings out distinctive "flavor notes". I'm interested to see what a darker roast does for the flavor.