Show more

Roast Coffee With The Best Hot Air Popcorn Popper

Feeling a little adventurous and wanting to roast your own coffee? I did a few months ago and have been pleased with the results. Not only am I saving money by roasting my own coffee at home, but I'm also learning a lot about what goes in to making a great cup of coffee from start to finish. Another side effect to roasting your own coffee at home is that your place will smell AMAZING as you let your coffee sit before using it for coffee. The first attempt at roasting left a slight burnt aroma, but there are steps you can take to limit that, including roasting over your oven's range hood with the fan on high, or roasting in another location like in your garage, a shed, or even outdoors.

Roasting Coffee Step 1: Preperation

The process of roasting coffee at home happens very quickly, and you'll need to be ready to quickly transition from one phase to the next. It's necessary to get everything ready before you start so you're not frantically searching for equipment while your coffee beans are roasting to the point of little charcoal bits.

It's very important to get your equipment ready before you start roasting.

Things you'll need include:

  1. Hot Air Popcorn Popper for roasting
  2. Colander to catch the chaff
  3. Baking sheet to cool the beans
  4. Scoop to put unroasted coffee into the popper (normally comes with the popper as the top tray designed for melting butter)
  5. Oven mitt to remove the hot plastic top of the popper when the beans are done roasting (not pictured, but very important)

Roasting Coffee Step 2: Have A Plan

Once you've gathered everything you'll need, there are still a few issues to address before roasting.


Be aware that there is a lot of smoke at the end of the roasting process. DO NOT try to roast coffee without the proper ventilation such as a range hood if you're roasting in your kitchen. Even with a range hood, there is a chance your smoke alarm will sound for a few seconds. If that is a problem, other locations to consider roasting your coffee would be a garage, a shed, or even the outdoors.

Chaff Control

If you aren't familiar with the term "chaff", it is the skin or "hull" that falls off of the coffee beans as it roasts. There is A LOT of chaff in the roasting process and if you're roasting indoors, you'll need to have a plan to contain the chaff before you begin.

A plan to collect chaff is very important if you've decided to roast your coffee beans indoors

The best method for reducing chaff is to hold a collander tight against the opening of the hot air popper's chute. The colander acts as a filter which does a great job at allowing the chaff to be expelled from the roasting coffee beans, while still collecting all of the chaff before it has a chance to blow around your kitchen. The only downside to this is that you have to hold it during the entirety of the roasting process, which is not much of a chore since the roast only takes a few minutes.

The chaff collected after just one roast of a half cup of coffee beans

Roasting Coffee Step 3: The Roast Process

Now that you have all of your equipment ready and decided on a plan, it's time to start roasting!

Start You Engines!

Depending on your hot air popper, it'll either start immediately once you plug it into the wall or you'll have to hit a button. Either way, you want to make sure the coffee beans are in the popper before you turn it on. A half cup (or slightly more) should be enough. Be careful not to add too much, since too many beans could be too heavy for the hot air popper to agitate.

Your popper will determine how involved you need to be in the beginning of the roasting process. The popper I use blows air up rather than around the chamber, which means I have to manually agitate the coffee beans by picking up the popper and gently shuffling it in a circle to keep the beans moving. This can be a little tricky since you have to also hold the collander at the opening of the chute at the same time to catch any chaff. I also like to turn the popper slightly so that the chute opening is the highest point. Doing this reduces any beans from being thrown out of the popper while you're shuffling them.


After 30 seconds or so of manually shuffling the coffee beans, you can put the hot air popper down and focus on listening to the beans as they roast. Listening is an important part of coffee roasting. Since the hot air popper will be making a lot of noise (plus the fan on the range hood if you're roasting in your kitchen), you'll have to concentrate to hear when the beans crack.

The first crack occurs after just a minute or two of roasting. This is the loudest crack that your beans will make.

Roast time is determined by your preference, but most roasters stop sometime after second crack which occurs 30 seconds to a minute after first crack. Second crack has a very different sound than first crack. Where first crack is very loud (like popping bubble wrap), second crack is soft, almost like Rice Krispies in milk.

Cool Your Beans!

When your coffee beans are done roasting, you want to cool them down as quickly as possible to stop the roasting process. A thick baking sheet works well at absorbing heat from the roasted beans. Dump the beans from the hot air popper onto the baking sheet and spread them out immediately either with a utensil or your oven mitt. You could also fan the beans with your oven mitt or a towel. Just be careful not to blow away any nearby chaff lying around which could cause a mess.

Cool your beans down as quickly as possible to stop the roast

Once the beans cool down, I like to dump the chaff out of the collander, put the beans in there, and move them around to let the air get to them from all sides. Once they are COMPLETELY cooled, I transfer them to either a slightly open plastic bag or a mason jar to store for a few days before using them for coffee.

Roasting Coffee Step 4: The Degassing Process!

Whatever container you decide to store them in, make sure the seal is loose so that pressure will not build inside during the degassing period. The trick is to allow the beans to degas while limiting the amount of oxygen that they come into contact with.

What Is "Degassing"?

Now that your beans are roasted and stored away in a partially closed container, you have to wait before you can use them for coffee. Why? Because the coffee needs time to "degass". Gasses naturally build up inside the bean during roasting. Degassing is a process where CO2 leaves the beans after they have been roasted. The bulk of the CO2 will leave the bean in 24 hours, but that does not mean the beans will be ready to use by that time.

How Long Does Degassing Take?

Depending on your roast, the process of degassing can take anywhere from 2 to 12 days after brewing. Dark roasts are said to degass faster than light roasts, while longer roasts degas faster than short roasts.

When I first started, I saw a video which said to just leave it overnight. So after 24 hours, I brewed my first cup and it was TERRIBLE! It tasted just like charcoal! I thought I ruined my first batch. But after another day I made another cup and it was great. After another day, EVEN BETTER! For me, 3 days to a week seem to be the best waiting period. So always plan your roasting at least 3 days in advance. Don't roast when you're completely out of coffee - roast when you're getting low.

But everyone's "degassing" experience will be different. The best way to learn is through trial and error.

Can I Speed Up The Process?

Unfortunately there is no way to speed up the degassing process. Pre-grinding the beans will release CO2, but it will also increase the exposure to oxygen, which will make the beans go stale very quickly. Leaving the beans uncovered with also increase the oxidation process making all your hard work obsolete. The only thing you can do is wait.

For best results

The following are products that I use that help me get the most out of my home roasting.

3 Lbs, Single Origin Unroasted Green Coffee Beans, Specialty Grade From Single Nicaraguan Estate, Direct Trade

These are the green coffee beans I use to roast at home on my hot air popcorn popper. There are 3 lbs. worth for roughly the cost of 2 lbs. of the premium brand in the store.

Get it here >

Presto 04820 PopLite Hot Air Popper

This is the hot air popcorn popper I bought and now use. Truth be told, if I were to do this again, I would buy a different model which circulates the coffee beans in the chamber rather than blow them upwards the way this model does. Still, this gets the job done.

Get it here >

Nuvo Eco Ceramic Handy Coffee Bean Roaster

If you're not completely sold on the idea of using a hot air popper to roast coffee beans, you may want to consider this ceramic coffee bean roaster. This works by filling up with beans and shuffling over a heat source. No electricity needed (unless you plan on using this over an electric stovetop). You'll have to agitate the beans during the whole process by shuffling the ceramic roaster, but considering the process only takes a couple minutes, that might not be an issue. It's slightly more expensive than an air popper, but only slightly. It should last longer than a hot air popcorn popper and you won't have to worry about the possibility of the motor burning out mid roast.

Get it here >

Behmor 1600 Plus Customizable Drum Coffee Roaster

For those serious about roasting, there's the Behmor 1600 Plus Customizable Drum Coffee Roaster. This takes all of the guess work out of roasting with little involvement by you. There are settings for different roasts, a chaff collection tray for simple clean up, and even a patent pending smoke suppression technology. Still there is a manual roasting override for those who want control over the process. This machine has it all for those who have deep enough pockets.

Get it here >

Aeropress Coffee and Espresso Maker

Once your coffee beans are roasted and have gone through the proper degassing period, you're going to want to make coffee. Aeropress is by far the best way to make coffee. Everything about the Aeropress is amazing, from it's design, ease of use, portability, recipe adjustability. Aeropress has it all. Highly recommended if you don't already own one. And their so cheap, you can buy a couple to keep at the home and the office.

Get it here >

Bialetti 6-Cup Stovetop Espresso Maker

While the Aeropress is great for making single cups, sometimes it's more convenient to make multiple cups at once. That's when the Bialetti 6-Cup Stovetop Espresso Maker is needed. It's able to make great coffee for a group of people all at once. Place your coffee and water in their appropriate chambers inside the Bialetti 6-Cup Stovetop Espresso Maker and place it on the stove. Within minutes the water will heat up and rise up the chamber to mix with the coffee grounds and then into the container on the top. That's all it takes!

Get it here >

French Press Coffee & Tea Maker

French Press coffee machines are great for making coffee in an office setting. It's able to make multiple cups like the Bialetti 6-Cup Stovetop Espresso Maker, but you do not need a stovetop to brew. Just add hot water to the coffee grounds, wait a few minutes, then plunge the plunger and serve. Many offices have a water cooler that can despense hot water, or even a microwave that can heat water in a microwave safe container, then poured into to the French Press.

Get it here >

Manual Burr Coffee Grinder

When grinding your coffee beans, a burr grinder offers better consistancy over a blade grinder. This hand crank burr grinder has multiple settings to ensure you have 100% precision control over the coarseness of your coffee grounds. Perfect for traveling or places where there is no electricity available, like while camping or on a job site.

Get it here >

Automatic Burr Mill

For serious grinders, there's the Cuisinart DBM-8 Supreme Grind Automatic Burr Mill. This has the capacity to ground a lot of beans all at once to store for later, making it much more convenient to brew coffee when you feel like it.

Get it here >

Coffee Canister With Built-in Valve

Perfect for degassing coffee, this container has a built in valve that vents away CO2 gas while still keeping oxygen out. Much better than a slightly-open plastic bag or mason jar. The freshness of the bean is one of the most important aspects to great tasting coffee, which makes this container extremely important for creating that perfect cup consistantly.

Get it here >