Roast Your Own Coffee [Whirley Pop Method]

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I've been roasting my own coffee a few years and I really love it as a fun, backyard activity that most people don't know is possible. Every time we've roasted, we've introduced new people to the process who made time in their busy schedules because they just had to see it in action! This method is great because it's a lot less fickle than other roasters and there are still several jobs for people to rotate through, making this a nice activity for a group of 3+.

I picked up a Whirley Pop Popcorn Maker for $1 at a yard sale after hearing it was a good option for roasting but it produced too much smoke to use indoors in my apartment. After losing access to the space we've been roasting on a charcoal grill, I went back to the Whirley Pop and found a willing co-roaster with a backyard and grill that we could use and we were in business!

This couldn't have been easier. This process was a lot less setup than the charcoal roaster and the resulting coffee is mighty tasty. I use most for espresso and it produces a great crema. (I'm currently sipping on an latte made from home roasted beans! Mmmm.)

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Step 1: Gather Supplies

Picture of Gather Supplies

You will need:
- Whirley Pop Popcorn Maker
- A heat source. We used a gas grill, but anything you can heat outside (Coleman stove, small single electric burner, backpacking stove, etc.) would all work.
- Green coffee beans
- A scale
- Empty bags for the roasted coffee (and a pen/marker)
- Two metal bowls/pots/colanders for cooling
- A thermometer
- A cast iron pan

I get all my green coffee beans from Sweet Maria's and frequently consult them for roasting tips. They're just an excellent resource and supplier.

Step 2: Measure Your Beans

Picture of Measure Your Beans

The Whirley Pop can handle between 8 and 16 oz of green coffee beans. We tried different weights to start and noticed different roasting times as well as cooling after. It's good to know what you're starting with.

pi526 made it!5 months ago

Hey, acoens, I had much fun roasting Sweet Maria's green coffee beans
tonight. Your instructable took me step-by-step and was really easy to
follow, especially having the detailed photos. Here are my pictures - I
especially like the beans 'before' and 'after' roasting. I like a
lighter brew, so I was careful that the beans didn't get too hot while roasting or
dark. Now I have to wait until
tomorrow morning to brew my first cup!

acoens (author)  pi5265 months ago

This is excellent! I love the night time roasting. Thanks for sharing
your process and I'm so glad you had a go at this yourself!

Ricardod15 months ago

I have lived on coffee plantations and we usually use a cast iron dutch oven and stir by hand with a wooden ladle... ad a tablespoon of sugar for the glossy and extra tasty touch...

acoens (author)  Ricardod15 months ago

It seems like you can do anything as long as you heat the beans evenly and keep them moving, though different methods each have their advantages.

Thanks for the sugar tip! I'll have to have to give that a try next time.

realife117 months ago

Absolutely! Sweet Maria's is the best!!!! a special advice to all that buy green coffee beans for the first time: "Be very careful who you buy them from, go with the best reviewed and highest ratings" I will only use Sweet Marias (or any other highly reputable and well known site) from now on, after a very bad experience with a green coffee seller in Texas that was a cooperative or something. Unfortunately the coffee and the inside of the box it was sent in, reeked of cigarette smoke. They gave no help and completely denied that it was them, that no one there smoked, etc. and that "maybe it was smokers at the post office" or " maybe it's the natural scent green coffee gives off". Oh pleeease. So anyway, I ordered from Sweet Marias after that, from the advice of my cousin who roasts. Best decision ever!! Very good quality and guess what....

Doesn't smell like cigarettes!!

So whether it's S.W. or another well known highly rated site, spend the little extra money and get quality. I should have done that in the first place.

acoens (author)  realife115 months ago

Completely agree, realife11! I used another supplier once (from a random stand a friend brought back from a vacation) which was a sweet gesture, but the coffee wasn't great. Stick to quality!

quipage7 months ago

Thank you. It seems simple enough. I'll give it a try.

acoens (author)  quipage5 months ago

Were you able to try this, quipage? I hope it turned out well!

ladybgood7 months ago

excellent and clear, you've inspired me to try roasting my own. Materials should be delivered tomorrow!

acoens (author)  ladybgood7 months ago

Excellent! I'm so glad to hear that, ladybgood! Please share your progress once you've given it a go and if you have any questions, hopefully someone here can help out :-)

spikec7 months ago

Nice Instructable. If you like to grow stuff, take it to the next level ;-)

acoens (author)  spikec7 months ago

Hardcore, spikec!

I'm slightly too nomadic these days to take on a coffee tree all my own :-) Very impressive, though!

spikec acoens7 months ago

Give it a go! Mine was in a pot and pretty small - it will be the best cup of coffee you ever drink! That being said, it was a one-time thing for me. Much easier buying the beans...

tkjtkj7 months ago

Good, and thanks! My experience in buying pre-roasted beans in major supermarkets is that they never seem to stock well-roasted beans. A friend suggested this explanation:

Markets sell beans by the pound .. Extensive/full roasting drives more moisture out of the beans, and therefore less profit, as the result is 'more beans per pound', and it's rare that markets might not set an espablished single price for whole-bean coffee. But roasting it ourselves can solve that problem! .. ya i think i'll try it!.

acoens (author)  tkjtkj7 months ago

You definitely should, tkjtkj! For me, it's a curiosity around how things are made that first got me into roasting but now I definitely notice the quality of what I make is more to my taste. Please share when you make your own!

Laral7 months ago

I have been using an air-type popcorn popper that I got at Goodwill for years now. I put a piece of window screen over the opening and I roast under a kitchen hood with the fan on low. The popper constantly whirls the beans around so they roast evenly.

acoens (author)  Laral7 months ago

That sounds great! Yes, with any method, it's important to make sure the beans are moving constantly and that there are no hot spots. Secondhand stuff is really the best for trying this new stuff out.

ADG017 months ago

where do you buy your green beans. I live in sydey

acoens (author)  ADG017 months ago

I get my green beans from Sweet Maria's ( and they do ship internationally. For Australia, they said this:

Customs, Duties, Taxes, etc: Countries such
as Japan, South Korea, Israel and Australia have very strict import
regulations and may require special import permits. There
are several
countries that impose a quarantine on coffee. Please contact
your local customs office for more information on restricted items.

dan30087 months ago

Nice, I'd been wanting to roast my own coffee for ages. Time to fire up the fire pit, and get roasting :D

acoens (author)  dan30087 months ago

Awesome! This method has a pretty low startup cost and it'll give you the full experience of roasting. Best of luck!

fabrimago7 months ago

I love the idea but the picture where you pour the coffee seems very clear. Pouring coffee should look almost black. how many coffee spoons you used for one pot?

mwakefield37 months ago
great work. I've been roasting for a few years now, started out with a little air forced popcorn popper, but this whirly popper is a great option although I have never seen one in Australia. The 'Coretto' set up is very popular down here which works well for me.
acoens (author)  mwakefield37 months ago

Thanks! I was surprised just how many setups there were for home roasting, plus all the ways you can make your own. Glad more people are trying their hand at roasting!

pi5267 months ago

I love coffee...I love this instructable. I definitely agree with seamster - great helpful photos. Going to give this a try!

acoens (author)  pi5267 months ago

Thanks, pi526! Please post photos if you try this on your own :-)

seamster7 months ago

Nice work, great documentation. Love the bright, clear photos... I can almost smell the roasting beans!

acoens (author)  seamster7 months ago

Thanks, seamster! Happy to share a fun hobby with this community :-)