For as much overlap as there is between keto diet culture and coffee culture, I’ve always been a little surprised that roasting your own coffee has never caught on in a bigger way. It’s something I’ve been doing for about eight years, so it is very much a sustainable project, especially if your morning coffee is a key part of your day.
Here is my thesis. If you care deeply about your morning cuppa whether it be a bulletproof or “black as night” like mine, roasting your own coffee is the single most powerful intervention you can make. It improves quality and value so tremendously that you probably won’t want to go back. My wife flat out refuses to drink pre-roasted coffee from the grocery store now. She’d rather drink nothing. So, what is so special about going the do-it-yourself route with coffee?
I don’t mean just around-the-margins cheaper. I mean a *lot* cheaper. I pay roughly $5/lb for high quality green coffee by ordering on the internet in bulk. Coffee loses about 15-20% of its weight in the roasting process, so a pound of green coffee is roughly equivalent to the 12 oz “pounds” of coffee you might buy at the grocery store for upwards of $20.
If you drink a pound of green coffee a week like a normal family, it is easy to estimate that you are saving $15 every single week. Fifty-two weeks times $15 equals $780 of cost savings PER YEAR. We’re not a normal family and drink far, far in excess of this so the economics of roasting is a no-brainer for us.
I rarely am drinking coffee at home that has been roasted less than a couple of weeks before. That mass-marketed coffee from the supermarket? Who knows. Probably months and in many cases longer. Green coffee beans stay fresh for a very, very long time. Once the coffee is roasted, rancidity sets in rapidly as oxygen comes into contact with the beans. This is combated somewhat by the one-way valve built in to commercial coffee packaging, but would you rather drink fresh or six-month-old coffee that has been sitting in a warehouse for much of that time?
It’s Customized (and possibly higher in caffeine?)
It’s telling that despite how ubiquitous the idea of “designer coffee” is, we think of coffee as one standard flavor. The reality is that there is wide variety in flavor and roast level among coffees, and each has their place. Roasting your own lets you start to hone in on exactly what varieties and levels of roast you like. In our house, while we do constantly try new things, our “usual” is Central American coffee with a very light, or “breakfast” roast.
One of the reasons why we like lighter roasts is that they are higher in caffeine. The prolonged roasting process needed for darker roasts destroys a large amount of original caffeine in the beans. A lot of peoples’ taste for darker roasts comes from its prevalence in commercial chain coffeeshops. The other thing the dark roast does is mute any varietal character the coffee has and produce a consistent end product. And if there is one thing that mass marketers love, it is a consistent product. As with everything DIY, one of the biggest benefits of roasting your own is you can have exactly what you prefer all the time.
So, do I have you convinced to give it a try? The equipment at a starting level isn’t even that expensive, and you may have it already. Some hot air popcorn poppers are suitable, and that is actually what I did for a couple of years. There is more smoke and mess, and you would probably want to think about doing it outside in that case. There are some good videos here and here on the topic that are produced by Sweet Maria’s, who is also who I buy my green beans from. They are also embedded immediately below