Roasting coffee beans is a science in itself. With a popcorn machine you can do the roasting yourself at home.
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Can you roast coffee beans with a popcorn maker?
Roasting coffee beans in a popcorn popper is one of the most popular methods out there.
It only takes a few minutes, ideal for beginners who want to start roasting their own beans.
Plus, it’s a lot cheaper than buying a machine that’s specifically designed for roasting coffee beans.
- A popcorn machine
- Unroasted coffee beans
- A bowl
- A thermometer (optional)
- A baking sheet
- An airtight container
- A timer (optional)
- Mud flaps
- Preheat your popcorn maker on low to medium, preferably on a gas or propane stove, as the temperature is quick to set here. Electric coil cookers are also suitable.
Use the thermometer and wait for the temperature to stabilize at 232°C (450°F).
- Add eight ounces (225 grams) of green coffee beans and shake or stir the machine to distribute the beans evenly over the base. Note that after loading the beans, the internal temperature will drop below 149°C (300°F).
- Close the lid and start turning the crank. Keep in mind that you don’t want to rush it, but maintain a steady rhythm throughout the process to avoid burning the beans. Try not to open the lid too often to keep the heat from escaping.
- After a few minutes, you’ll notice the beans begin to turn brown and give off a grassy smell. If you keep an eye on the thermometer, you will see that this is the case when the temperature rises above 149°C (300°F).
- After about 5-7 minutes you will see smoke coming out of the beans and you will also smell the aroma of roasted chocolate. You will hear the first popping sound that sounds like popcorn popping.
You will notice that the beans are between 177°C and 188°C (350°F – 370°F) at this point. Let the beans crackle for a few seconds. If the frequency of cracking decreases and eventually stops altogether, your beans have reached a light roast level and passed the first crack. If you wish to stop at this stage of the roast, turn off the heat and continue to step 8.
- Roast an additional 1 to 2 minutes and stir if you want a medium roast. Note that the temperature to reach this level of roasting is approximately 201°C to 219°C (410°F – 426°F).
- If you want a darker roast, continue roasting for a few more minutes, i.e. 7 to 9 minutes total from the start.
Listen closely for the second click (crackle), which has a brighter sound, similar to an electrical spark. You’ll find this happening when the temperature is around 450°F (232°C).
You’ll find that the beans continue to roast after you remove them from the heat, so you can remove them a little earlier before the desired roast is achieved.
- Open the lid of the pot and pour the beans into a metal colander to cool. Be very careful when doing this as quite a bit of smoke can escape, so keep your face and hands away from the opening to avoid burns.
It is important that the beans cool down quickly. So, if you have another colander, you can toss the beans back and forth between the colanders to speed up the cooling process.
You will notice that the chaff, the outer layer of the coffee beans, has now fallen off. Separate them by tipping the beans side to side and blowing on them.
- Store the coffee beans in an airtight container to keep them fresh.
However, try to keep the lid open the first day to allow the beans to release their gas.
Remember, beans taste best 12 to 24 hours after roasting. When this time has passed, the beans can be ground and prepared.
Do not forget that after a week oxidation sets in and the roasted coffee beans can therefore become rancid.
Benefits of popcorn machine roasting
- The popcorn maker method is much more economical than purchasing a machine designed specifically for roasting coffee beans.
- The process is much simpler than other methods such as air roasters or drum roasters.
- Most of the utensils needed for the procedure can be found at home.
What should be considered when roasting coffee beans with a popcorn machine?
Buying green coffee beans
Green coffee beans are a little harder to find than roasted beans.
They are usually sold in inordinately large quantities, which can be overwhelming if you want to roast the beans at home.
The easiest way is to buy them from online suppliers because if you buy the beans in person from grocery stores, you most likely won’t find quality green coffee.
Degassing of coffee beans is key
In case you didn’t know, degassing is the release of gases from roasted coffee.
Various gases are formed when coffee is roasted, including a lot of carbon dioxide in the bean.
These gases are usually released within the first few days after roasting, so patience is required if you want to get the best results.
Tips to avoid mistakes when roasting
- Don’t walk away from your machine.
- If you decide to use a higher temperature for a faster roast time, be aware that you can create grains with attrition.
- Pay special attention to the color and aroma of the coffee, as well as the first and second cracks.
Tips to improve roasting at home
- There is no such thing as a perfect roast, you can only improve with every roast.
- Try to keep a journal of each roast so you can review your failures and successes.
- If you want to experiment during the roasting process, try changing one factor at a time to see how it affects the flavor and aroma of the coffee.
Colors when roasted
Here you will find the different roast colors and their characteristics so you can choose the one you like the most when roasting coffee beans with the popcorn maker.
- The bean is light brown in color.
- It is reached at temperatures of 196°C to 205°C (385°F – 401°F).
- At this stage, the coffee beans are characterized by a dry surface.
- The coffee beans are only roasted to the first crackle or even earlier.
- The taste of this roast is light and has a higher acidity.
- The color is not too light, but not too dark either.
- It is reached at temperatures between 201°C and 219°C (410°F – 426°F).
- It is also referred to as an American roast because this roast is generally preferred in the United States.
- Coffee beans reach this degree of roast when they are roasted past the first crackle.
- The flavor is stronger than light roasts, with a fuller body and less acidity.
- The bean has a darker coffee color.
- It is reached at temperatures of 225°C to 230°C (437°F – 446°F).
- At this stage, the coffee beans are characterized by having some oil on their surface.
- The coffee beans are roasted at the beginning of the second crackle and a little longer.
- The taste is bittersweet caramel.
- It has a dark, almost black, coffee colour.
- It is reached at temperatures between 240°C and 245°C (464°F – 473°F).
- At this stage, the coffee beans have a completely shiny surface due to the oil.
- The taste is sweet and sour.
Are popcorn makers the best choice for roasting coffee?
Popcorn poppers are a great way to roast your coffee beans.
However, we must not hide that there are also other methods that are suitable for roasting coffee beans, such as the frying pan, the oven and of course coffee roasters.
Types of popcorn machines
Stove top model
- They can be used to control the temperature inside the pan very precisely.
- They have a transparent lid through which you can see the beans roasting and changing color.
- They allow control over the speed of stirring the beans in the pan, ensuring an even roast.
- Thanks to the non-stick coating, they are quick and easy to clean.
- Most models require you to be standing throughout the process to observe and control the grains throughout the process.
- They don’t need to be stirred by hand, keep a constant temperature and are easy to clean.
- They have a lower roasting capacity and generally need to rest between batches.
- They are less durable because they rely on heater motors and fans.
- They have automatic paddles that tend to catch the grains, although they will then scratch and damage the non-stick Teflon coating of the pan.
Important details for choosing the popcorn machine.
Features cooker model
You may want to take a look at the kernels as they turn brown. Therefore, you should pay attention to lids that can be opened halfway or are transparent.
Also note that opening the lid too often can cause temperature fluctuations, which can cause uneven roasting.
This is an important point because you need a good stirring mechanism that constantly stirs the beans so they roast evenly and don’t burn.
Therefore, look for a robust gear that will work even after prolonged use and paddles that move on the bottom of the pan to keep the coffee beans moving.
Many stovetop appliances require hand washing due to their more delicate stirring mechanisms.
They are generally easy to clean, although light chaff can be a bit difficult to remove.
For this reason, you should look for a device that can be cleaned in the dishwasher.
Most popcorn makers have aluminum housings, which are lightweight and good heat conductors, and some have non-stick coatings.
Think carefully about whether this is what you want and whether it is really a priority for you.
Features Electric model
Try to find electrical appliances that have a good wattage heater for roasting your beans.
If the heater is not powerful enough, the coffee beans may be burned, which may affect the taste of the coffee beans.
You need a fan powerful enough to move the coffee beans. Ideally, you should opt for a machine type with side ventilation as it is better at lifting the beans and moving them evenly.
Electric models are smaller than stove models, so you can spend a lot of time with them. So, try to choose a machine that is not so small in capacity.
Electrical machines require rest periods between loads to prevent the motor from overheating and burning out.
Ideally, if you plan to roast a lot of beans, you should choose a model that doesn’t require as much rest time so you can save some time in the roasting process.
You’ll probably want to see your beans change color, like stovetop devices. That is why you should choose a transparent plastic lid so that you can observe the whole process.
Popcorn Machine Precautions
- Remember, popcorn poppers are designed specifically for popping popcorn. So, using these to roast coffee beans may void the warranty.
- If you use the device to roast coffee beans too often, it will probably be damaged after a few months.
- Make sure the device you intend to use radiates heat from the sides. We do not recommend using an appliance that heats from below as it produces a weak and uneven roast. In addition, it is dangerous because the shells that accumulate can burn and even cause a fire. To avoid this, you should try to collect the skins after each roast.
- Try to maintain the popcorn maker regularly.
- Popcorn makers typically don’t roast a large amount of popcorn at once, so you’ll have to repeat the process multiple times if you have a large batch of coffee beans.
- Popcorn machines don’t offer a way to remove the chaff, so you’ll have to do it yourself.
Why roast coffee at home?
By roasting the beans at home, you can learn a lot more about coffee that you probably didn’t know before.
You can try different degrees of roast with different types of beans, allowing you to taste different flavors.
You may not get the best results at first, but with practice you will master the roasting process perfectly.
Roasting coffee beans in a popcorn popper is an excellent option as it gives you fully roasted and flavorful beans in less than 10 minutes.
We invite you to try this alternative so you can continue learning about the fascinating world of coffee.