All it takes to roast your own coffee beans is a Whirley-Pop popcorn popper and a stove. But to roast with some finesse, you might need some instruction.
That's what the Institute of Domestic Technology's coffee roasting class is for. Roasting green beans at home might be the next frontier for coffee aficionados. You can roast coffee in a pot or pan, certain hot-air popcorn poppers or a dedicated machine. The green beans are heated to draw out moisture, caramelize the sugars and release aromatics.
Learn the finer points of roasting from Daniel Kent, proprietor of Plow & Gun Coffee (who also leads classes in all-grain beer brewing, hard apple cider and other fermented beverages). He'll be teaching students how to roast with simple equipment, as well as how to grind, brew and taste coffee. The class includes an introduction to cupping and a discussion of the terroir of coffee beans so that you can get the most out of your coffee's flavor attributes while roasting.
Basically, roasting happens between the time the beans start to color and two important stages: first crack (a cracking sound), an indicator that the coffee bean structure is breaking down as water escapes, sugars caramelize and oils are released, and second crack, when it's said the roasted character starts to eclipse the beans' original character. The "sweet spot" depends on your technique and taste, whether you prefer a light or dark roast.
The class takes place on Sunday, Sept. 15, at the Zane Grey Estate in Altadena from 10 am. to noon. Snacks will be provided, and you'll take home your roasted beans and a bag of green beans with which to practice. The cost is $95.
To sign up, go to the Institute of Domestic Technology's website.