Our first attempt a home roasting coffee was almost a disaster, but ended up wonderfully! As I type this I am savoring a strong cup of very rich java that is not at all bitter. We are very excited about this because it means we can buy really great coffee in bulk and roast our own in small batches, giving us the freshest most flavorful coffee possible. For this experiment, we ordered 5 pounds of Guatamalan, HHT and Fair Trade certified green coffee beans. We planned to use a popcorn popper, which a nice neighbor of ours gave to use for coffee roasting. (Note: stove top popcorn poppers are sometimes recommended for roasting coffee because you can use them to continually stir the coffee beans as they are roasting)
The disaster part of this experiment happened after the roaster had gotten very hot and the beans had started to expand. That is when the stirring stick on the popcorn popper started sticking on the beans. The beans started getting stuck under the stirring blade and it would stop turning. The, the beans started to burn. Yikes. I quickly removed the lid and got out a metal whisk with I used to manually stir the beans instead. The end result is fantastic!
All of the instructions said to stop roasting before they are as dark as you want them, because they keep roasting for a while when you take them off the heat. We like very dark coffee. And, I think I took them off a little too early. Instead of a dark roast, we ended up with more of a full city roast. We were well past the "first crack" and pretty well into the "second crack" of the roast. But, we definitely could have roasted another minute or two. The resultant coffee is as good as the best coffee we had in Italy. It is very potent and rich, but not at all bitter.