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Home Roasted Kona Coffee

I just wanted to say a quick thank you to Clare who gave me some great tips for home roasting the green kona coffee beans that I brought back from my trip to Hawaii.

At Greenwell Farms, where I purchased the coffee, I was able to sample all their roasts. The full city roast was my favorite – smooth and rich, but not too dark. I thought it was the best roast for their coffee and, indeed, it is known as a classic Kona roast. With this as my goal, I began roasting.

Clare recommended using an air popper, which I borrowed from my neighbor. I put 150 grams of green beans in, strapped an empty tin can on top of the opening to allow the beans to expand as they roasted and plugged it in. Green beans are actually rather grey when they are unroasted. They turn a brilliant green as they heat up. Unfortunately, I couldn’t enjoy this much because the chaff/skin of the dry beans was flying up out of the roaster. Fortunately, it soon stopped. I watched as the beans turned to darker and darker shades of brown. I listened to the “cracks” of the beans, akin to the sound of popping corn.

As the beans approached my desired color, the popper noticeable began to smoke. I wanted to keep an eye on the beans, but could no longer look over them. After several moments, I flipped off the switch and took the whole thing outside. I cooled the beans in a colander as my kitchen aired out. You can see that I got quite a dark roast. But when I brewed it the next morning, it was wonderful. The dark beans belied the smoothness of the taste.

My second and third roasts were much less eventful, as I did them outside. I hit the Full City roast on the third try.
By the way, Greenwell’s chocolate covered peaberry coffee beans are the best I have ever had. I’m not a huge fan of peaberry coffee, but their natural chocolatiness makes the perfect accompaniment to the very high quality chocolate they’re covered with. They’re amazing. I highly recommend trying some.

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  • drbiggles
    June 21, 2005

    Oh yeah, now you’re talkin’. I wanna see a picture of the chaff blowing out the top!

  • Clare Eats
    June 21, 2005

    I think I forgot to warn you about the chaff….. and the smoke….
    but I normally stop it before the smoke gets too crazy

  • Sculpin
    June 21, 2005


    If anybody else is interested in roasting coffee with an air popper, my friend Ulysses of Seattle’s Espresso Ulysses has written up some instructions. He likes to extend the roasting chamber with a tin can and keeps a slotted metal spatula over the top of the can when he wants to increase the heat in the chamber.

  • Nic
    June 21, 2005

    Dr. Biggles – I would say that that photo is none too flattering of me. Therefore, it doesn’t go up. =)

    Clare – It’s ok. I got better after the first go. Thank you so much for the directions, though. I loved my coffee!

  • Clare Eats
    June 21, 2005

    and I walk away skipping and whistling … another job well done 😛

  • Ana
    June 21, 2005

    Must have been a sight!

  • rowena
    June 22, 2005

    WOW!!! You went to Hawaii? I have never thought to roast my own coffee beans and reading this post was very informative on the subject. Boy do I miss home!

  • Cathy
    June 22, 2005

    Neat – I never thought of roasting my own beans, but then again I’ve never come across unroasted ones. Nic/Clare – aside from making a trip to Hawaii, how do you find these?

  • Lynn
    June 22, 2005

    Nic, I can’t believe you roasted your own coffee beans. I read about it in a magazine a while ago and remember thinking, that’s such a precise science!

    BTW, not sure if you are already tagged for the cookbook meme or not, but I just tagged you.


  • farmgirl
    June 22, 2005

    Neat post. And I’m so glad you finally served us some coffee to go with your mouth-watering desserts. Now can I please have a scoop of vanilla ice cream for my pie?

  • kel
    June 22, 2005

    Amazing, thanks and nice site.

    from the better looking cooking.

  • Nic
    June 22, 2005

    Thanks everyone. I know you can order green beans online from a few places (depending on what country you live in!), but if there are any local coffee roasters, they might be able to sell you the beans, too.

  • keiko
    June 28, 2005

    Hi Nic – I can’t live without coffee, I just love them. I’ve never thought about roasting beans at home, but after reading your great post I’m beginning to be convinced…

  • eblj wyes
    February 16, 2008

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