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Roasting coffee beens in wood fired ovens

Roasting coffee in wood fired ovens.

For the past 7 years I have been roasting our household coffee in the wood oven, and while I don’t claim to be an expert, I have now roasted over 300 times and you can’t help but learn a few things along the way.

First thing, Why bother? Well, by buying green beans you will find it a whole lot cheaper than at the gourmet coffee store. I can buy organic, shade tree, fair trade, ethical coffee, in bulk delivered to my door in the Canadian outback for $4 a lb. That very same stuff roasted can cost you from $12 -$16. You can get regular non organic Brazilian for much, much less.

Green coffee is not taxed when it comes in to most countries, and here in Canada it’s considered food, so it isn’t taxed when you buy it either.

Second, it’s just so fresh, unless you have a nearby coffee roaster you are buying stale coffee. Starbucks for instance, has to let their their coffee sit around for several days before shipping, because fresh roasted coffee de-gasses for up to 1-3 days (depending on the variety), so it will blow up those foil bags if they don’t. Fresh roasted coffee is fantastic, you can make it really strong (we make espresso) and it is never bitter.

Sweep the embers aside for the roaster.

Thirdly, heck! Who needs any more reasons.

Now you need some beans. Do an internet search for green coffee beans in your locale. I have been using greenbeanery.ca (a green bean source in Toronto that ships North America wide) for all the time I’ve been roasting.

Right at the moment I have Peruvian, Bolivian, and Nicaraguan on hand – in it’s green state coffee beans will last for years – roasted they start to change flavor in a week. Some varieties say they are better for espresso, but I dark roast them all and they taste fine.

Green coffee ready to roast.

I made a roaster out of two dollar store stainless steel sieves. I made a wire hinge on one side, bent up a little clasp for the the other side and welded up a skid plate and long handle (see photo), now this works fine for me, but if you don’t have access to a welder you can use a baking tray with a rim.
Spread your beans on the tray, slide it in to your hot oven (500F+). Leave in for 4–5 minutes, pull out, turn with spatula, put back in and repeat till you get almost to your preferred color (they keep on cooking after you get them out). This will take 10-15 minutes depending on how much you are trying to roast at once and the heat of your oven.

With the dollar store roaster I wait till the soot is almost burned off the dome, clear a passage down the middle of the coals, and slide the roaster back and forth with a jigging motion that keeps the beans rotating – this will take between 8 and 12 minutes depending on the quantity and how hot your oven is. My dollar store roaster can handle 1 1/4 lb.

Letting the roasted coffee mellow

Roasting coffee beans goes through several stages, at first the outside layer (the silverskin) will flake off, you can see them turn black on the oven floor, then as the beans heat up there will be a light cracking noise as they expand slightly, a few minutes later as the beans start to color you will have to pull them out and visually check the color. Next you will start to see smoke and hear a more pronounced and rapid cracking, the beans are expanding again, I start looking for an oily surface on the beans – as with the baking sheet method they will keep on cooking so take them out before they get to your desired finish. Since we do espresso I want to see a mahogany color that will finish outside the oven to a shiny dark chocolate.

Remove the roaster and empty the beans on to a baking sheet, at this point if they are a little light you can leave them in a heap while they smoke, then spread them out, or if they look good, spread them out, give them a light mist of water (the commercial roasters use compressed cold air) to stop them from going too far.

For way too many months of the year I can put the whole tray down in a snow drift and stop them in their tracks. (How I fire my pizza oven in winter months.)

More than a few times people have said to me, “can’t you make a rotating basket so you just have to turn a handle?” Perhaps you can, but it’s beyond my personal cave man engineering skills. And with the judgment calls on the doneness that require removal and inspection, I can see this getting a bit tricky.

So there you go, fantastic coffee made easy, at a price that’ll make you pinch yourself. How cool is that? Like with cooking, you will make mistakes, but as with cooking you can still eat your mistakes or in this case drink them in form of coffee.

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  1. […] roasting coffee in your wood fired oven […]

    Pingback Tim's 32" dome oven in winter. Fire in pizza oven and cooking.Permalink

  2. Tim, thank you, this is excellent! I can get fresh green coffee beans from our local growers, there are a good ones around North of Queensland. Will search for quality and the price for sure, but I reckon I’ve lost so much money already :), and possibly the best taste, by paying for already roasted coffee.

    I enjoy the aroma from roasting coffee beans, it spreads around very easily. Owner of a cafe called LITSE (Life Is Too Short Enjoy) close from us, in Keperra, roasts coffee in the shop where people can see how the color of the beans gradually changes (this is apart of his fabulous menu and cooking by his chef.) But it never crossed my mind that I can use the oven heat from a wood fire for roasting my own! Discovery of thi$ year… one very practical idea.

    By the way I couldn’t not notice you’ve typed Aussie word colour for color. Is the same spelling used by Canadians too?

    By Rado — Permalink

  3. Thanks for the tutorial- Any good coffee grinder that you would recommend?

    By coffee grinder brand — Permalink

  4. I am on my third espresso machine in 16 years and 3rd grinder also , I am not counting those little Braun grinders with the blender type blade , you need a burr machine to control the particle size, which you have to do for espresso.
    The first, a Salton, was ok , it lost it’s timer/switch in a lightning storm and then eventually could not be kept going after it got plastic fatigue.
    The 2nd came from Canadian Tire [ Canadians are now shaking their heads! ] , and it was the loudest machine I’ve ever heard .. and I mean loud , louder than a router ! louder than a power planer .!….. it’s now on a shelf.
    The 3rd, a Maestro Classic I bought from http://www.greenbeanery.ca, it’s geared down to about 1/3 speed , works great , is reasonably quiet, been running it for 4 years. It cost $150Can., but I figured I had already wasted $50 on the Canadian Tire one so , why not pony up for something decent. [ What with all that money I’m saving on coffee!]
    tim

    By coffeee grinder — Permalink

  5. Stunning advice for roasting coffee and coffee grinders, thank you Tim!

    By Annette — Permalink

  6. […] Re: roasting green coffee beans Hi, I wrote this bit on roasting coffee for another [gasp!] wood oven site.. it covers a lot of the questions. cheers, tim Roasting coffee beans in wood fired oven – roasting green coffee beans – Page 4 – Forum: The Wood-Fired Oven Community[…]

    Pingback roasting green coffee beans - Page 4 - Forum: The Wood-Fired Oven Community — Permalink

  7. I love Capulin Coffee for green beans. First of all, the beans are excellent!! And I know some friends that know the fellow that founded this, Daniel Fourwinds. It’s organic and biodynamic, and supports a small village in Mexico. At Capulin.com you can buy beans that are more expensive than the cheapest, (8, 9 bucks a pound), but I know he’s not doing anything weird growing them, and that’s real important to me. . . I love this site, I have some roasting in my gas oven now, but they are coming out a little uneven. I will make a (caveman device) like you describe for roasting. I bought a tray with holes at a junk store (I think it was originally made for roasting meat) for roasting in my gas oven, but it’s hard to turn over the beans without spilling them out. I just tryed that today. Thanks for putting this together, I love Canada, used to work up there!! Thanks!!

    By Dean Antilla — Permalink

  8. […] it took a few years of coffee roasting plus cooking seasons with the oven, and then .. my wife an Artist/blacksmith built the roof ribs […]

    Pingback Metal roof built on the arty stone structure!Permalink

  9. It’s in my plans to do coffee roasting on wood fire like this. Very clever idea in the put together two stainless steel sieves. They are cheap. I have a fresh coffee supplier close from home and they sell the green coffee beans in wholesale bulk quantities.

    By A coffee roasting on fire? — Permalink

  10. Nice article, and I will try it roasting my coffee in my 43 inch hand built outdoor oven
    I am still using my Salter (Douwe Egberts and Spong used the identical machine) No 2 Grinder – hand cranked, adjustable, conical burr grinders, that bolts to the wall. These make lovely grinders and are a real talking piece when friends visit and see it in a prominent place. I don’t like the electric grinders, and these are much quieter.
    My favourite coffee is the Indians Tiger Mountain variety
    Oh, you could try having the fire just on the Left side to make it easier to cook!

    By EddyO — Permalink

  11. An old fashion pop corn popper with a long handle works great for roasting coffee. I simply shake it every 30 seconds or so for 12-15 minutes at 550 degrees F = 288 deg. C. It works great for pop corn too and no oil required.

    By Roasting Coffee — Permalink

  12. I always spent my half an hour, either morning or afternoon nearly daily, to read this website along with a nice cup of organically grown coffee.

    By Coffee maniak — Permalink

  13. Having read this I thought it was really informative.
    I appreciate you spending some time and effort to
    put this article together. I once again find myself spending a lot of time both
    reading and commenting. But so what, it was still worth it!

    By EdwardoPermalink

  14. Awesome how green coffee beans can be roasted in a wood fired oven heat. Props to you for doing this and adapting to new ways to roast coffee. I am working in a coffee roaster business.

    By Mahlon BoehsPermalink

  15. It has been a while since I wrote this and the price of coffee has gone up
    .I club together with 4 other oven owners and we split a 100 lbs , bulk buying brings the price back down .
    Keep Cooking!
    Tim

    By timPermalink

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