Roasting Coffee on the Stovetop

Friday, April 3, 2020

As staying inside 24/7 has become the new normal, Dialogue is focusing on coffee at home this month. If you don’t already brew your coffee regularly, hopefully this period inspires you to do so. Personally, brewing at home is a routine that keeps me sane.

Two years ago I went to Colombia with my (then boyfriend, now husband) and for the first half of our vacation we stayed on the beach at Playa Blanca in Cartagena. Vacation... Anyways, we spent three nights at this beach hotel that only had electricity for about five or six hours at night, no running water, and no WiFi. It was perfection, if you’re into that off-the-grid thing. Our host had coffee ready for us each morning, Colombian beans of course. The first night we noticed him roasting the beans on the stovetop in a huge pan. I had never seen this before... It smelled amazing and it was one of those moments where you (or is it just me) completely decide that living on the beach is ideal and nothing else matters.

Once back from Cartagena, I researched where I could get green, unroasted beans. I came across Cafe Imports, a green coffee importer based in Minnesota. Their website is rich with information and it lead to me printing out their coffee offerings. This list includes the beans’ origins, flavors, and name. Connecting with someone through email, I was able to get four bags of unroasted beans to sample. Green (unroasted) coffee can stay good for about a year, maybe more, as long as it is stored properly. It needs to be in an air-tight bag or container and it can be kept in your cupboard. No need to store it in your fridge. As long as the temperature stays pretty stable and out of direct sunlight, green coffee can be kept safe before roasting. Once roasted, beans should be brewed and enjoyed within a month’s time.

When roasting green coffee on the stovetop, you’ll want to have three things: a deep pan, a colander, and a whisk. The first time I roasted I used a wooden spoon and it made keeping the beans in motion more difficult. A whisk allows the beans to move easily and not stick to each other. Start by heating the pan at medium heat. Depending on pan size, it shouldn’t be completely covered by the beans. There should be space for the beans to move around and get heated up as evenly as possible. Keep the beans in constant motion as stillness can cause them to burn or roast unevenly. The green color will start changing to a pale yellow and then light brown. During this color change, the beans will experience the ‘first crack.’ As they go from a medium brown and on they will have a ‘second crack.’

The ‘cracks’ are audible and visible, with flaky outer shells falling apart from the beans. The beans can be roasted as light or dark as you want, but should definitely be removed from heat before getting too dark, so they don’t burn. Once finished, strain the flakes out through the colander and leave the beans four hours or overnight to let them cool and air out. After, I like to use an old coffee bag to store them, preferably with a ziplock, so you can keep it airtight. The roasting itself takes about 15 minutes, so it’s not going to add a dent to your day. Just a nice addition.

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