AARP Eye Center
Lisa Torres loves her coffee. Nine years ago, she was more than willing to spend $5 or more for a cup of steaming joe, typically twice a day. At least until her husband, Norman, pointed out that her coffee was costing them “a fortune” and offered a better-tasting alternative: home roasting.
For the same five bucks, using an aluminum stewpot over a gas grill, Norman, 56, could roast a pound of beans – enough for several pots of coffee. Clearly, the savings were real. But how about the taste?
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“It was better than what I was buying,” says Lisa Torres, 60, and “we could make our coffee exactly how we wanted it.”
For the Torreses, the quest for that perfect cup became a family business. The San Antonio couple now micro-roast beans to sell at farmers markets and coffee shows.
Choose roasting equipment
Home coffee roasting has increased in popularity, particularly gaining momentum during the height of the pandemic, according to manufacturers and retailers of home roasters. Companies Fresh Roast and Behmor noted a 25 percent growth in sales during the pandemic despite supply-chain issues.
“We sold (roasters) as fast as we could get them,” says Barry Levine, a 35-year veteran of the industry and co-founder of Roastmasters.com.
The hobby appeals to older adults: A survey from a decade ago by Home Roasting Supplies found that customers ages 55 to 65 were the largest age group using the company's Fresh Roast machine at least once a week, according to company founder Tim Skaling. He hopes to repeat the survey soon.
For those who want to give it a try, the first step to home roasting is choosing your method. Some people go basic, using kitchen pots, skillets or popcorn poppers. Home roasting machines make the process easier by providing more control over the heat, bean movement and timing. They range from $40 to more than $1,000.
“Choose equipment that allows you to see, hear and smell the beans,” says Catherine Mansell, director of products and programs for Coffee Bean Corral, a website for all things coffee. For example, a roaster that blows hot air upward through a glass cylinder allows you to see all-important changes in color, which is a key indicator of a light, medium or dark roast.
Select your coffee beans
To shop for raw beans, search online for “green coffee beans,” and a world of coffee growers is a click away. But be ready for a lot of information. The promised nuances of each bean and the influence of growing conditions can be overwhelming. Descriptions of brightness, complexity, and balance are akin to the world of wine.
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