How to Roast Coffee at Home

May  6, 2011

A&M take a field trip all the way uptown to visit Kate McLeod, a local home roaster. From the 1970s popcorn maker (the West Bend Poppery II, to be exact!) to "the first crack" (watch and learn), the duo earn their coffee stripes from this roasting guru and share a delicious cup. Joe-purists, listen up -- this is back to basics caffeine.

This week's videos were once again shot and edited by filmmaker Elena Parker. To order green beans to roast at home, check out Sweet Maria's.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • NYCityMama
  • Janetxb
  • william_huebl
  • seabirdskitchen
  • Morningstar42
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NYCityMama May 10, 2011
I joined my husband and friends and took this class with Kate one evening. I walked away FASCINATED. Funny, we had the SAME reaction when we realized the magic of the popcorn popper! lol! Thanks for featuring Kate. We absolutely adore her!
Janetxb May 8, 2011
My cello teacher (a many of many accomplishments, including playing in a major symphony, gardening, building houses and cellos, and making great chicken soup) taught me to roast coffee beans by taking them first from green to light tan over low heat in a cast iron skillet, then finishing them in the hot air popper. Yum!
william_huebl May 8, 2011
I have been roasting coffee on and off again for over 5 years using the same method... not sure it is the same popper but looks the same.

And I always roast mine black as I like a stronger coffee - and it doesn't much matter which coffee bean you start with. I find you can even take grossly under-roasted beans and roast them black for a great coffee.

And I use one of those Kueric (I hope that is not blasphemy) coffee makers - load my own cups with the ground, freshly roasted coffee.

And thank you so much for the refresher course.


boulangere May 8, 2011
The blacker the better!
seabirdskitchen May 8, 2011
I have been roasting at home for almost 7 years. Sweet Maria's is fantastic, btw. I gave up the burr grinder because I could not figure how to get the funky off notes of stale oils off the burrs. I tried rice, cheap coffee, grape nuts, but to no avail.

So i use a blade grinder and an aeropress nowadays. Fantastic. And < $6 per lb.
boulangere May 8, 2011
Thanks, good to hear an affirmation for the plain old blade grinder.
Morningstar42 May 8, 2011
Thanks girls for the Sweet Maria's info, and roasting your own . I have one of the old popcorn
Poppers and was going to get rid of it, but now I have new use for it.
I ordered the beans at sweet Maria's
Happy Mother's day
rroseperry May 8, 2011
Thanks for the shout out to Sweet Maria's. I've been buying green beans from them for about five years now. Besides having great coffee, they've got lots of good info about roasting and responsible sourcing.
Panfusine May 8, 2011
One of my chores growing up was to go buy the beans from the coffee board office (with the standard advice 'the peaberry round beans NOT the flat ones!', if ever I forgot, the rest of the month would be a sound reminder of why the coffee was not up to par!) My mother would roast the beans in an cast iron wok constantly stirring the beans, no stopping, just transfer the spoon to the left hand if the right got tired!, My job was to lay down the newspaper next to the stove to IMMEDIATELY transfer the beans onto to cool..
Thanks for stirring up an aromatic mother's day memory!
boulangere May 7, 2011
Love that popcorn popper. Who knew?
Mr_Vittles May 6, 2011
To roast your own coffee beans from green and then grind them in a blade grinder...I guess it does not matter too much if she makes French Press, but still...
susan G. May 6, 2011
What do you recommend?
erinbdm May 7, 2011
I was also alarmed to see a blade grinder! I'd like to taste the cup of coffee, but I'm pretty sure that using a burr grinder matters a lot for french press. It's so important that the grind be even, so that you don't end up with a lot of sludge in the coffee.
Mr_Vittles May 8, 2011
@susan g I would recommend a burr grinder. The problem being that burr grinders are expensive (like $50 to $1,000). The high-end being for professional users and the low end being only slightly better than a blade grinder. I would personally recommend a Baratza grinder, they make many models that will suffice every brew method imaginable. A blade grinder will chop up your beans, making them uneven, and cause them to release their goodness at different rates, ultimately giving you a cup that is good, but will most likely never be great. A burr grinder, which come in conical or flat form, will pulverize the beans in between two pieces of either metal or ceramic disks. This renders a much more consistent grind, which translates to a better contact with the water and the possibility of a superb cup of coffee. Of course of this means nil if you are not using good beans.

@erinbdm In my experience, I have found that French Press really does not require a burr grinder. Yes, there will be some extra sludge, but there are ways around that. Simply taking an extra step and removing the cake-like top layer of grinds, before pressing, will greatly reduce sludge in your coffee. But yes, for just about every other brew method, requires a burr grinder (i.e. V60, Aeropress, Chemex, Clever Coffee Dripper, Beehouse, Bonmac, Melitta, etc.).
sygyzy May 6, 2011
You guys look like school kids who are attending a class in a nice lady's home. I love it!