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Guide Buying and Roasting Green Coffee

Updated on July 12, 2009

What is Green Coffee?

Green coffee simply refers to coffee that has not yet been roasted. You may be wondering why someone would want raw coffee. You can't make a cup of coffee unless the beans have been roasted. If this is what you're thinking, you're absolutely correct. Green coffee is for you to roast right at home. Coffee is actually a tiny red fruit. The fruit goes through a lot to become what we refer to as "coffee beans". One of these stages yields green coffee beans, and they are shipped around the world to the roasters.

So now you're question might be "Why would I roast green coffee if I can just get roasted coffee?". Well, I'm glad you asked. A lot of people find that roasting green coffee actually enhances the flavor of the coffee and makes for a better morning beverage. Roasting coffee is actually an easy thing to do and isn't time consuming so there's no real reason not to try it once and see if you like it.

Green coffee can also be healthier for you due to the purity of the coffee. If you have control over it you know what's going into the roast. Coffee is a natural resource, as is coconut water and tea. All of these beverages are great replacements for soft drinks.

Guide to Buying Green Coffee

Any true coffee lover knows that you can't just buy any old green coffee. You need to buy the right guality beans in order to get great coffee. There are a few ways to distinguish between good beans and bad ones. First of all, you will want to look at the coffee. The beans should all be around the same size and look similarly shaped and colored. If the green coffee beans are irregularly in the way that they look, this might indicate problems while drying the beans or that beans from different plants were mixed up.

Before buying your green coffee you should have a working knowledge of the different tastes of beans from different regions of the world. Coffee beans taste different depending on the soil they grow in, and the climate and growing conditions. Green coffee from Costa Rica won't taste the same if it were from Tanzania. These are just a few things to keep in mind when buying.

How to Roast Green Coffee

Roasting green coffee is easy and should only take between 5 and 15 minutes. Your reward is having extremely fresh coffee. The best way to roast your coffee is to invest in a coffee roaster. These generally run between $80 and $250 but will last you a long time and are worth the investment if you love coffee as much as I do.

If you're looking to save some cash though, fear not. Roasting green coffee can be done inexpensively, too. All you need is a metal mixing bowl, a heat gun, and a wooden spoon. You can buy heat guns at most hardware or DIY stores and they run from about $15 to $100.

If you are using this method to roast, it is best to do it outside as it can get very smokey due to the charred skin of the green coffee.

Step 1: Prepare your work area. Roasting green coffee can get messy and it's important to make sure you have everything before you get started.

Step 2: Decide what you are making. Light roasts generally finish at a temperature of 425 f and darker roasts at around 475 f. Know what you are making before you start.

Step 3: Prepare a cooling station. The mixing bowl will become very hot one you start roasting green coffee. I usually use a wooden bowl for cooling.

Step 4: Put about one pound of green coffee in the mixing bowl and preheat the gun for about a minute. You're going to start with the lowest heat setting.

Step 5: While stirring the beans with one hand, circle the heat gun overhead the beans, alternating the hight of the gun (don't get too close). Keep an eye on how the green coffee is changing colors to make sure the heat is being distributed evenly.

Step 6: After about 7-12 minutes, the coffee should have lost its green. Now it is time to raise the heat. Repeat until you have reached your desired roast level. The darker the roast, the less caffeine.

Step 7: Cool the beans. This is best if you transfer from one bowl to another and back and forth till cool.

Now your green coffee is no longer green!

There are many other ways to roast coffee, including in a popcorn popper or in an oven. It's enjoyable and your coffee will be very fresh no matter how you do it. If you're using a manual method to roast your beans it is best to experiment a little and see what works for you. Everyone does it a little differently and you will no doubt have your very own method once you start learning. Other ways to roast would be in a wok, over a fire, in a frying pan, making your own special roasting contraption, or on a stove top.

I would suggest that if you plan to do this a lot and want quality roasted green coffee, you should buy a coffee roaster. Manual roasting, while fun, takes a while to perfect and probably won't yield the results that you are expecting. If you're patient than this is fine, but if you're looking for producing quality and not elbow grease I suggest you buy a roaster.

Store bought coffee roasters generally come with excellent warranties and are fun to use. They're a regular kitchen appliance that you can keep right on your counter until you are ready to roast your next batch of green coffee. When the coffee has been roasted, you can store it in your refrigerator. Many people store it in a freezer, but coffee can get freezer burn and the refrigerator is the best place for it. That well you will keep moisture out and keep your beans fresher for longer. Roast the beans a little at a time so you never have too many lying around and you'll always be drinking the freshest coffee around!

The book I am including in the amazon shop (Home Coffee Roasting, Revised, Updated Edition) is a must have for anyone roasting their own coffee. It includes a two page roasting chart that is essential.


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