There are lots of steps in between a coffee grower and you- all sorts of preparations and personnel, tools and techniques- all combining to make that morning cuppa something special. For most people, their knowledge begins and ends at the roasted bean and what comes after- the grinding, perhaps if you’re a dedicated caffeine head, but certainly a brewer of some sort. You probably know that you should grind your own, but you might not know that you could roast your own as well, adding even more control and a lot more fun to your coffee experience. It’s not for everyone, it takes some trial and error, and it probably won’t result in better coffee than the professionals- but you can save money and also enjoy a lot of experimentation.
We’ve been trying out the Nesco CR-1010-PRP Pro Coffee Bean Roaster, and exploring another step in the process, taking green beans ordered online from quality vendors and turning them into something special. It doesn’t take too much time for a batch (20 minutes or so), but does take a bit to setup, and certainly a while to figure out how to get good results. Also, keep in mind that a batch is only about 1/3 of a pound, enough for 20+ cups of coffee or so, but you won’t be competing with Starbucks anytime soon.
The essentials of home roasting are simple- wait and listen and be patient. You’ll throw in some green coffee beans, turn on the heat, and watch the Nesco slowly spin and warm up. With 800W of power, it’s enough to get to medium roasts but probably not going to achieve your darker French roasts. It isn’t fast either, but that’s OK, because timing is critical- you’re listening for “cracks”, literally, noises that you can’t miss. Before the second one, you’ll want to start watching carefully and pull out your finished product based on color and appearance, which takes some practice (expect the first crack at 10-15 minutes, the second around the 20-25 minute marker). But what’s nice about the Nesco is that the unit is totally transparent- you can see everything that is happening. At first, you might overdo your roast and end up with smoky beans, which aren’t so good- but one nice thing about this unit is that you don’t have to worry about installing ventilation, and the amount of smoke isn’t too bad if you’re careful.
You might want to invest in a small vacuum for the inevitable chaff- as beans “crack”, they lose their skins, kind of like peanut skins. And you’ll also quickly learn that coffee is surprisingly messy, and requires a fair bit of cleanup after each roast- oils build up and chaff can get everywhere, and the internal filter requires cleaning too. Unlike larger and more expensive units, you don’t have much control over the Nesco, and you can’t set up a “curve” or anything fancy. End results can vary widely, but can be surprisingly good if you like a lighter roast and use good beans- we’d rate it better than any diner cup and could eventually get solid results that felt worthy of a pourover. The Nesco CR-1010-PRP is small, simple, and surprisingly affordable- expect to spend around $220 for one of the best Valentine’s Day gifts for the coffee lover.