You may remember we like our coffee around here. Here, here, here, and here. I know, how cliche. Seattlites who like coffee. But I might even say that we out-Seattle many Seattlites. Since we last spoke about coffee we’ve added two more brewing systems to our collection. I believe we are now at seven.

Stepping further into coffee nerd-dom we’ve recently began roasting our own beans. We’re just dabbling but at this rate we’ll be Q graders in no time. Maybe not, but it’s fun to dream.

We’ve had so much fun roasting we wanted to share the process with you. Really, it’s quite simple.


We begin with a popcorn popper. That’s right. A $15 Presto air popper. I might even go as far as to say it’s the best $15 we’ve ever spent. Fresh roasted coffee AND popcorn. Two of my favorite things. Just add to that silver white winters that melt into springs and the list is complete.


Then you’ll want to order some high quality green beans. Sweet Maria’s is where we found ours (they come highly recommended). I would also recommend picking up a copy of Home Coffee Roasting by Kenneth Davids.

What’s worked for us so far is to simply fill the “butter melting cup” – the technical name for it – with green beans, pour them into the machine, plug the machine in and wait for the beans to reach our favored color. Gabe tends to prefer a lighter roast which allows you to taste more acid and fruit and I tend to like a darker roast which yields more sweet, chocolate and caramel flavors – of course this also depends on the beans we’re roasting. I typically brew espresso which likes dark roasts.

I found the roasting charts in Home Coffee Roasting to be very useful giving visual and audible cues to when to stop the roasting process. Also, often the notes on your green beans will give you the recommended roast for that particular bean.

It doesn’t always work perfectly – it is a $15 machine after all. For example, lighter beans, such as peaberries tend blow out into the bowl along with the chaff. Then there are the times when the machine is chugging a bit and the beans need a little help from the end of a wooden spoon to keep them moving so they will roast evenly. *Be very careful doing that (I’m sure it’s not recommended – in fact I know it’s not but it’s all in the name of evenly roasted coffee) as the machine gets very hot. Don’t let the spoon touch the bottom. You’ve been warned.

Once the beans reach the desired color immediately dump them out into a strainer and stir to cool quickly. We often will have a fan blowing right on them to stop the roasting as quickly as possible.

Now you have freshly roasted beans ready to brew.

When we first started roasted I had visions of the house being flooded with the glorious smell of freshly roasted coffee. In my dreams neighbors would come pounding on the door with coffee mug in hand begging us for whatever we were brewing. But instead the house often smells of burnt burlap. In fact, so do the freshly roasted beans. But after even just a couple hours of relaxing in a lightly sealed ball jar the dark, earthy and glorious aroma of my dreams takes a hold of me. Oh coffee, how I love thee.


There you have it, a basic introduction to how we roast at home.

Now please enjoy this beautiful video my talented husband put together to further illustrate the process.

Roasting Coffee from gabe on Vimeo.

A huge thank you to my dear husband and fellow coffee nerd (in fact, he out nerds me) for providing all the visuals today. He is a talent and brews a mean cup o’ joe.

One last thing. We have a NWS first with this post. A GIVEAWAY!!  Somehow in the midst of all the holiday giving we wound up having two air poppers. That’s great news for you because we want to send you one! Just simply leave a comment to enter and we’ll pick a winner Friday, February 4.

*Congratulations!!** Lindsey Cota!! You won!!! Please email me your address and I will send this popper out your way!

*Just a note: I’m not getting paid by Presto for this post. This is just something we love and would love to share with you all. I do, however, make a few pennies if you buy through my Amazon links – which is awesome, thanks!


86 Responses to “Simple home coffee roasting”

  1. Tony Della Ripa

    COFFEE!!! I love it, I can’t wait to roast it, grind it, drop some hot water on it, and drink it!

  2. Kelly

    I have to tell you that the Cold Brew Coffee method you blogged a while back is in my constant summer rotation and this may be joining it!!!

  3. Hannah

    I had no idea that you could roast coffee in an air popper…I figured it was this incredibly complicated process and now I’m completely intrigued…

  4. caryn

    i too thought coffee roasting was an art better left to very large roasters in facilities i dared not enter… i want to try this at home now! i bet it’s awfully fun to be your neighbors and smell all of the homemade goodness coming from within those walls. thanks for the inspiration!

  5. Eva

    I just took a little class on home roasting, and I’m soooo excited to give it a try! For now I’ll be using my cast iron skillet, practicing with peaberries (recommended for cast iron because they roll around and aid in the stirring/even roasting process, I guess?), but I’d love to get an air popper. It’s on my list, along with a burr grinder to properly grind my home-roasted coffee. Ironic that the burr grinder is way more expensive than the proposed roasting appliance!

  6. Julia

    Wow! That is so neat that you can roast coffee beans using a popcorn popper! I’ve always been tempted to buy green beans and try roasting them myself, but have never taken the plunge.

  7. Max

    Inspired by this post I just ordered 3lbs of green from Sweet Maria’s and am now searching out a popcorn popper. Very excited. I’ll let you know how my adventures in home roasting unfold…

  8. Rick

    I would recommend a Toastmaster 6203 or a West Bend Poppery with the side vents. You lose a lot of coffee with the Presto. Some people use a glass chamber from a lamp to contain the jumping coffee.

    • Ashley Rodriguez

      Rick – Thanks for that recommendation. We are thinking about getting a different machine as we have noticed a lot of waste. This was one recommended in some books but it’s good to hear other thoughts.

  9. Max

    Hey guys, to update: I ended up finding a Presto Poplite (looks to be at least a cousin, if not sibling, of your little popper) and have roasted up a few batches thus far. Seems to be coming along nicely, although I am a bit curious about the quick roast (running somewhere around 3 min, which seems to be a few minutes faster than that suggested by Sweet Maria’s). Have you had similar results for such short roasts? The beans also tend to have a bit of an uncharacteristic funky tang to them (I smell and taste a lot of coffee at work), although this could very well be a trait of the beans themselves. I bought an Ethiopia Limu, a Guatemala Finca San Diego Buena Vista (Bourbon) and a Brazil Bahia Chapada Diamantina – a pretty widely varied sample. At this point, I am pretty happy to chalk the still-totally-drinkable-and-enjoyable-home-roasted-coffee-experience up to just having started my home roasting career, having faith that things will get better as I hone my methods.

    I would love to ask, however, if you have any advice on ways to keep the roasting beans from jumping out of the popper and perhaps a word or two on batch sizes. Alright, this is turning rambly. Happy roasting team!

  10. Gabe

    Hey Max,
    I have similarly experienced the short (3 min) roasting times. Usually my first batch is about 3-4 mins and the consecutive batches are even a bit shorter (as the machine is hot!). I keep wanting to roast outside where the temp. right now is about 20-30º cooler. I think having a much cooler ambient temp. would prolong the roast time.
    I also have tilted my machine back about 15-20º so less beans jump out and it seems to give a more even roast. This has helped with that funky taste, a lot of which I chalked up to a quick and more uneven roast. I hope this helps.
    You might check out the forums at or
    good luck

  11. Jess

    Very nice. Roasting coffebeans in a simple pan does it too. But needs continously stirring the beans for an even roast…


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