Introduction: Coffee From Bean to Cup
This is my simple, relaxed approach to roasting, grinding, and brewing your own coffee. Coffee has been cultivated, traded, roasted, and brewed since around 1100AD, and as most of you remember from elementary History class, there was not electricity back then which means most of us possess the equipment or can cheaply acquire said equipment to do much of this ourselves. Most of us do not live in the right region of the world nor the right elevation to grow amazing coffee beans but once we can get our hands on them, the rest is a piece of cake. I focused mostly on the roasting in this instructable hoping that if you are looking into roasting your own beans, you already have a pretty good grasp of the other two. Roasting really doesn't have to be that hard, it's really not that expensive, and to make your own fresh roasted beans to coffee is like no other coffee experience you'll ever have.
Step 1: Get Some Beans
Green coffee beans can be found a lot easier than they use too. There's many different regions to get many different beans from that are good for many different things. Soil, altitude, ways of processing, size of bean, where in the world they are grown, all of these things effect the end product. If you are into flying that plane into the ground, there are hundreds of books and articles to read, this isn't that how to guide though. This is a very basic no frils, in case you are curious approach. If you like it and open your own roasting house, I expect some credit...
Personally I have really enjoyed getting my beans from a supplier called smokinbeans.com which also sell on Amazon.
1. Pick your bean. I recommend you start at the roast of coffee you like, then find what is the best bean for that roast. I like a medium roast so my favorite is Yirgacheffe which is arguably one of the best beans in the world. (side note- great beans are much more affordable when they are still green so get something nice!)
2. Buy your bean. Usually most distributers will sell in bags of 5 pounds or more but you can find less. Anything under 5 pounds though and for the price, usually, in my experience, it'll cost you the same as the 5 pound bag.
Step 2: Get Everything Else.
1. You will need one heat source. I bought a hot plate at Wal-Mart (I got the Oster Single Burner $19.99 only because it had the flat cook top and I didn't want beans falling through the coil of the $9.99 burner, it's up to you), it works just fine and it's very cheap. Get as fancy as you like, roast them on your grill, I've seen alcohol burners too... If you use a camp stove you might want to use a heavier pan than he aluminum popper just for heat transfer sake (but then you are getting into thermal dynamics and that's a different instructiable) just have a little control of the heat and it can't get 1000 degrees F (of C for that matter) because beans do burn.
2. You need a roasting container. I use a whirley pop popcorn popper ($19.99-$29.99 from your favorite online retailer). Again, it works great and again, you can get creative and use whatever you want. just keep the beans moving over the heat or once again, they will burn. (open fire or gas burner=thicker skillet and wooden spoon)
3. When they are done you will want a metal bowl, I like stainless, to cool the beans. A sink of ice water is nice but not absolutely necessary. A pair of work gloves I highly recommend so you don't singe off your finger tips while you're cooling the beans. And I recommend you do this all outdoors in a garage, back porch, fire pit camping, grill, unless everyone in the house LOVES the smell of roasted coffee. You may say, "But Chris, I have a stove, and a skillet, and a wooden spoon, what's stopping me from just roasting them right on the stove?" The technical answer is nothing... Go for it! The only byproduct besides smoke and beans is something called chaff, it is the hull of the bean that get's burnt off, and it makes a mess while you are cooling the beans so, at least take them outside to cool them.
Beans, 5# $25.99
The bowl and gloves I had...
I bought a nice ceramic hand crank grinder for $35.00 on amazon but if you have a grinder you don't need this.
If you just had the cast iron skillet and the spoon and a fire, you can do it just fine... all you would need is the bowl gloves and beans, all the same concepts apply no matter the equipment... And with the crank grinder you can roast and brew completely off the grid! For all you survivalists out there :)
Step 3: OK, the Meat and Potatoes, and Beans
1.Get hot plate, get popper, get roughly 10oz. of beans. Pour beans into popper. Don't put on heat quite yet... let's have a little talk.
When I started doing this I read everything I could find, I started stop watches to make sure it was roasting right, I had my IR thermometers out to check the temp of the beans I was ALL OVER IT. I can tell you most of that has gone away. Turns out the beans do most of the work and they really don't need your help or encouragement. There are two defining stages in roasting that will help you know where your beans are at in the roasting process, first crack and second crack. First crack sounds kinda like pop corn popping and second crack is not as distinct, or quite as predictable. So if you are roasting anything but a City Roast+ like me, look up where in the cycle to take it. I'm sure someone that has brewed coffee for a long time is going to send me hate mail over this but I pretty much always roast a city roast+ which is right after first crack-ish, So I roast until then and then I stop. And that's how complicated I choose to make it. Can you make it more complicated than that? sure... go for it. I know for a fact there are lots of other how to's out there that can help you with that. (OK truth be told I was going to just leave it at that but I started to feel guilty that I didn't include something else to guide you along a little better, then I remembered this link: (http://legacy.sweetmarias.com/library/content/using-sight-determine-degree-roast)
If I'm going to keep it simple but not leave you stranded this is the site to fill the gaps! they have done a fantastic job of showing you how to tell your roast by site and have tons of more information if you desire a bit more information than what I provide along with being able to purchase a huge variety of beans.
Ok so now, the basic name of the game is, (for my roast) get it to first crack quickly, then cool it down, also quickly...
1.5. Beans in popper. (or skillet)
2. Place on burner and turn that sucker up to high, if you are using what I use... (I'm shooting for about 450F for the beans in case you desire to use a blow torch, fire pit, camp stove, or engine block... try to adjust the distance from heat source to get roughly the same result as a stove to burner.) ((sorry I feel to reiterate so much right here but the "high" setting on your camp stove is not the same as the "high" setting on your stove top, or a fire, or whatnot, so before you end up with a pile of smoking black little dots in the bottom of your pan that are permanently burnt into place, make sure you kinda have the feel for the difference between boiling water and melting steel.))
3. Start turning the handle and get comfortable. If you have the popper like I do, you'll be turning the handle for about 15 to 20 minutes straight so seriously, don't be bent over in some weird position. If you are stirring a skillet over a fire, make sure you aren't going to burn your hands over the coals for the next 15 minutes or try to hold a cast iron skillet by hand over a fire for 15 minutes. Hell try and do that for 2 minutes!
3.5. It usually takes about 15 minutes or so to get them to where I like them, you'll have to experiment with your roast and beans to get what you want...
4. Once they are where you want (mine are right after first crack) get them off the heat and put them in the bowl.
5. I toss them in the bowl to get as much air as I can between the beans while pretending to be the Swedish Chef form the Muppets to entertain my 5 year old. Bork Bork Bork... (a lot of you are to young for that reference I'm sure, you should look it up)
5.5. Put the base of the bowl in the ice water to cool it down if it's getting to hot to hold, just don't get the beans wet. (you don't have to do this but it can save your fingers)
Also you don't have to act like the Swedish Chef but I recommend it.
Step 4: Congrats! You Made Beans! Now Make Your Own COFFEE!
1.Ok your beans are cool to the touch, they may not be totally cool on the inside still so let the sit a while still before you grind them. (How long is a while? I have no clue, use your best judgment... If you REALLY want to grind them, a while will be a lot less time than if you are a very patient person I'm betting.)
2.Grind them to Spec. I'm sure you know that different ways of brewing have different grinds but in case you didn't, they do. If you didn't know that, go find a website to explain this to you before you move forward. Or the owners manual to your coffee making apparatus...
3. Brew and enjoy.
-- You did it! --
Final thoughts: There is so much more that can be added and if you find you like doing this I encourage you continue to learn on the subject. Coffee is the second most traded commodity in the world only second to oil, and oil suck to drink... I also encourage you to look into purchasing fair trade coffee if you can or care. Basically all it does is make sure the farmer on the other end isn't getting ripped off by the government or market. It use to be a lot more expensive but now it's not that big of a difference.
If you have any thoughts, helpful advice for the peeps, or ways I can make this better, leave me a comment or shoot me some mail. I'm always interested in improving :)