If you have never had a fresh cup of coffee, right from the roaster - well, you're in for a treat. Today we are going to discuss how to roast your own coffee using a Little Griddle brand griddle. It takes a little bit more effort than driving to the grocery store and buying a can of coffee, but it might take less time, it is a lot more fun, and the taste is far, far better than anything you can buy in a store.
For starters, let's explore the "why" of roasting coffee on an outdoor griddle and grill. In part, this is just worth trying "because you can." Roasting your own coffee is a fun trick that happens to be amazingly delicious, and it will wow your family and friends. It also saves money - organic unroasted green coffee beans can be found easily for around $5 per pound, which is much less than most commercially available grocery store coffee. The best reason that we can give for trying this, though, is that you will be amazed (AMAZED) at the taste.
There is no bitterness, no bad aftertaste - just a hot, beautiful cup of smooth, complex flavors and aromas that you you will be amazed find in coffee. If you love coffee, you owe it to yourself to get some green beans and give this a try. If you don't love coffee, you still might want to try this - it may change your mind.
Viewed historically, it used to be far more common for people to roast their own coffee beans, and there were many specialized machines designed for home-roasting. As people abandoned the tradition, however, both the available home machinery and the "know-how" to do the roasting vanished from American stores.
Luckily there are a number of people bringing back the craft of roasting coffee beans at home, and we have adapted some techniques from the very excellent book "Home Coffee Roasting" for use on Little Griddle products. Home Coffee Roasting (let's call it HRC from here out) provides a wonderful overview on the history, machinery and technique used to roast coffee beans at home, and we were able to use recipes originally developed for the oven to roast our own beans.
We suggest that if you attempt this yourself, use our experience as a general guideline, but look to HRC or a similar guidebook for specifics on temperature, bean selection, and how to gauge when a bean is sufficiently roasted to your own tastes and specifications. So, with that in mind - let's get roasting, shall we? First, you're going to need some green coffee beans.
A quick search will turn up a number of different sources. Once you own some, and assuming that you have a Little Griddle outdoor griddle, then you are ready to roast! Here is a list of the equipment that we used:
- One outdoor grill. Gas is easy to set and maintain a temperature, but charcoal will let you reach temperatures that are hotter than some gas grills can reach. This one's a coin toss, but we used gas for this recipe.
- 1 pound of green, un-roasted coffee beans. The amount you use per batch will vary depending on your griddle size.
- One Little Griddle stainless steel outdoor griddle*. In this case we used a Euro-Q Jr.*, but any of our griddles will work. (Note: The Euro-Q has been discontinued since this post was writted, but we left it in for continuity. We would suggest picking up a Sizzle-Q or a Kettle-Q. You can use our ANYWARE cookware if you make sure to keep the temps below 525 degrees Fahrenheit). Make sure your griddle is extremely clean - any residual grease or oil will affect the taste of the coffee, and may scorch given the high heat in this recipe.
- Two oven mitts - this is vital. Do not make this recipe without heat-resistant gloves or mitts.
- One stainless steel colander, for shaking the beans to cool them after roasting.
- One stainless steel spatula, for moving the beans around during roasting or lifting from the griddle.
- One oven thermometer or surface temperature gauge, if not built into your grill.
Recipes don't get much more simple - take one ingredient, heat, and serve. Here is the plan:
1. Preheat your grill according to the gas oven directions in "Home Coffee Roasting" or a similar guidebook. We set our three-burner gas grill to high and hit 500 degrees in about 20 minutes. You could likely back off from this air temperature a bit, as the grill surface will be hotter than the air. We were aiming for a consistent temperature of 520 to 540 degrees Fahrenheit. According to HCR, you need to roast at high heat, so your grill needs to hit at least 500 to make this recipe.
2. Place your COLD griddle on the pre-heated grill. Cover the top with green coffee beans to cover it one-layer deep. You are using conduction from the metal to cook the beans, so they need to touch the griddle. If using a Euro-Q Jr., this works out to 1/2 pound of beans per batch. Larger griddles will roast the entire pound of coffee.
3. Close the lid, and check periodically for roasting progress, turning the beans occasionally with your spatula to ensure they roast evenly. After about 7 minutes the beans will begin to make a "cracking" noise as they heat and expand, and in 15 to 20 minutes the beans will be ready to pull from the grill. We found that it helped to have a few bean samples on hand of other coffees that we liked, which gave us a bit of a guide to aim for. If you see beans darkening too quickly or even burning, turn down the heat and give them a stir. Because griddle-roasting coffee is as much of an art as it is science, expect to experience a bit of trial and error as you roast to your taste.
Here is what they look like about half way through the roast:
4. When the beans have roasted to your desired shade of doneness, they need to come off the griddle immediately to cool down and stop the roasting process. If you are using a Euro-Q Jr., you may CAREFULLY pick up the griddle with your oven mitts and pour the contents into the colander. If you are using a larger griddle, use your spatula to lift the beans and scoop them into the colander. BE CAREFUL - the beans and the griddle are very, very hot.
5. Shake the beans inside the colander to rapidly cool them down. HCR has tips on using water to cool them more quickly, but they turned out fine without water. As the beans cool, they will give off chaff (outer bean hull pieces that come off during roasting). Shaking the beans will allow the chaff to loosen and separate from the beans, and blowing on the beans helps to separate the chaff.
6. After then beans cool, they are ready to ground and brewed immediately, but the flavor is said to be at its peak 12 to 24 hours after roasting, at which point it begins to degrade until eventually it tastes like "normal" coffee, albeit a pretty great version of normal.
When finished, the beans look like this:
Pretty swell! One ingredient, prepared really well, and immensely delicious.
This is fun to make, and we already know what we're making for holiday gifts this year. If you try this, please send us a picture, we would love to share our customers' successes with this technique. Happy Griddling!