How about a really fresh cup of coffee? Imagine grinding beans that are still warm from your own home coffee roaster and brewing the freshest cup of coffee you have ever had. And choice… with your own roaster you can choose from all of the finest grade green coffees, like the legendary Jamaican Blue or Costa Rican Tarrazu, and pay way less without settling for commercial blends or beans roasted 2 months ago. If you want to go for artisan roasting, you can even make your own blends and adjust roast levels. That means you can make things like white coffee. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s an ultra light roast that taste like nuts and has several times the caffeine that would burn off in a longer roast, and it’s a real zinger. Having roasted our own coffee for years, we can say it is definitely worth the investment and it’s a real blast to roll your own bean brand. The machine we bought was a fluid bed 1 lb. type that goes for over $4,000 which is over our budget for this article, so we scoured for a reasonably priced unit that roasted well and had all of the good marks a roaster should have.
There are some cheapie low quality roasters out there that we wanted to avoid. The best roaster of a proven quality and performance level was the Red Gene Coffee Roaster. It does a 1/2 pound per roast, about the size of a normal small bag you get at the store. The Red Gene has controls where you can adjust temperature and time to get the coffee perfect to your liking. It was made with even beginners in mind so you can be roasting great coffee on day 1 following the instructions. While it is roasting there will be a certain amount of smoke, so you should roast stove top under your kitchen vent, or vent it out a window. Not a big deal, we vented ours out the window without any smoke problems and it took all of 30 seconds to attach a flex pipe. It has an auto shutoff for safety too if heat were to get out of hand. Not that it will, but it’s good to be safe. It is a sturdy little unit and should give you years of roasting entertainment.
There are tons to choose from, literally. You can look around the web and find green beans that you can get delivered to your doorstep at a good price. You should usually end up paying half about of what you normally would per pound for premium coffee at the store, but it tastes so much better. When you get green beans you will want coffee that is Grade 1 (Specialty) or Grade 2 (Premium) because life is too short to drink sub-par coffee (see the rating system here). If you don’t see ratings where you buy, just ask them and most places are happy to let you know. A good place to start is Sweet Maria’s if you want to see some premium regional coffees with reasonable ordering weights (1lb.) to get a good sampling. Their regionals and specialty green goes for about $6 per pound. Here is a list of some popular regional coffees that roasting hobbyist and coffee gurus go for:
- Blue Mountain (Jamaican Blue, make sure it is from Jamaica)
- Costa Rica Terrazu
- Ethiopian Harar
- Kenya Kirinyaga
- Ethiopian Yirgachefe
- Kona (no blends)