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February 17, 2009 at 8:48 AM

DIY coffee roasting. Help!

I recently read an article in the Jan/Feb issue of Northwest Palate suggesting roasting your own beans is not as hard as it looks, so I cut it out, intent on taking on the challenge:

The morning coffee ritual at my house hasn’t changed much over the years, if you don’t count the “favorite coffee beans” of the moment, which changes, oh, every year or so:

But I’ve got it in mind to shake things up a bit and — just like Tyler Palagi can be seen doing below on Sunday night at this friend Kurt’s Vashon Island farm. (By the way, Tyler was among the many local chefs auditioning last Wednesday for “Top Chef.” You can find him cooking behind the line most nights at Spring Hill):

In addition to the careful-roasting-in-a-skillet method demonstrated above, and some far more expensive roasting devices one could use, the Northwest Palate article offered a piece of advice that blew me away: you can roast green coffee beans at home using a popcorn popper and a candy thermometer. I already owned a candy thermometer, and guess what I found for $3 at my kid’s 5th grader’s garage sale?

That happy find is now resting at home among my own garage-saleables. And in honor of its presence, I bought a pound of unroasted beans at my neighborhood Ethiopian grocery store this weekend for less than $5 (the Ethiopians know a thing or two about roasting coffee at home). So, now I’m good to go, though I haven’t “gone there” — yet.

In the meantime, I was wondering if any of you Eaters had DIY roasting-tips for me, like: do our local roasting joints sell their beans “green” and if so, who has the best beans for home-roasting? With hot-air popping, will the beans fly out of the popper like popcorn when they’re finished roasting, and “How-do-it-know” when they’re done? (P.S. Where do you shove the thermometer?) With un- and pre-roasted beans in hand, I await all and any suggestions:

Comments | More in Cooking, Food products and kitchen gear | Topics: Drink up

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