For the past six months or so I’ve been roasting my own coffee in earnest, using green coffee beans that I buy from sweetmarias.com and a popcorn popper that I bought from eBay for $15. There are small, personal machines on the market for genuine home coffee roasting, but they’re mostly in the triple-digit range, and I wasn’t sure if I would take a shine to this thing when I started it, so I went the cheap route to minimize my potential losses. My friend Steve, who lives around the corner, got me started with this business. He started with a popcorn popper, too, but since has rigged up a little rotisserie thing on his gas grill so he can roast five pounds at a time. The guy is an animal!
As it turns out, I’m actually saving bundles of money. When I buy the green beans in 20 lb. increments, I can get some of the best-tasting espresso I’ve ever had for just $4 per pound. Compare that to the typical $10 to $12 cost for a premium espresso roast, and it’s not too hard to see the advantage. Compare it to the $45 or so I’d have to spend to buy the equivalent number of lattes from a coffeehouse, and I’d be crazy not to roast my own.
Admittedly, roasting coffee does take time, and with the small West Bend Poppery II as my roaster, I have to process five or six batches for a week’s worth of lattes. With each batch taking between 10 and 14 minutes, we’re looking at a total of at least one hour of roasting per week.
But it’s not as bad as it sounds. I haul everything out to the garage in a basket and get to work right away, just by dumping a couple scoops of coffee in the popper and plugging it in. I pull down the chair that’s hanging on the garage wall and sit and read while the Poppery II does its magic.
Of course, when the smoke starts billowing out of the garage and the smell turns mildly sweet and I’m all hunched over, sniffing and stirring and shaking things, the scene must look, if not illicit, at least grotesque. I’m surprised none of the neighbors have called the police yet.