There have been several well-written articles
about pan roasting of coffee. It seems everyone who has tried this
has his or her own little tricks that come only with experience.
Here at The Dutchman, we have tried many different ways, only to
find that it is somewhat difficult and requires a certain amount
of physical exertion (rocking a heavy frying pan back and forth
over a stove burner set to high heat) and close attention to keep
from scorching the beans. Then we met an immigrant from Ethiopia
Tsege grew up in the capitol of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa.
Being centrally located in the country, the coffees that this region
is famous for (Harrar, Yirgacheffe, Ghimbi, Sidamo..... you get
the idea) all find their way to the marketplace in this capital
city. It is customary for the younger girls in an Ethiopian family
to prepare coffee for social gatherings, which happen quite frequently
(uh...like almost daily). During this “coffee ceremony”,
as it is called, the coffee is roasted, ground, brewed, and served
while neighbors, friends, and family gather around for conversation.
Without going into great detail about the coffee ceremony itself,
it should be noted that after the coffee has been served to guests,
it is customary for at least one of them to offer the words, “Tu
bun” (Pronounced similar to “Too Boon”), meaning “good
coffee”. If this compliment is not offered, then the coffee-making
girl must go back and start over. You can assume that after years
of hand roasting and brewing coffee that Tsege is quite the expert.
To our knowledge, she continues to roast coffee in a frying pan
today, foregoing “automated” home roasting appliances.
For this pan-roasting demonstration, Tsege roasted
about 8 ounces (by weight) of some fine Harrar Organic green coffee
that we normally keep in stock. The resulting roast was brewed
in an open-pot and tasted similar to what one would expect from
correctly made coffee made in a Press-Pot (aka “French Press").
Now, some of you coffee ultra-aficionados out there
are going to probably jump out of your seats in disagreement as
you read some of this. All we can say is, try out this method for
yourselves. This is probably as easy and efficient as pan roasting
can get while producing a great tasting cup.
Start By Washing The Beans
If you are using an electric stove, turn up the burner
to nearly its highest setting. The element should be glowing red.
Thoroughly rinse and wash about one-half pound of green coffee
beans. Yes, wash them. This not only cleans the beans, but also
moisturizes them prior to roasting them. Place a medium sized frying
pan on the burner and let it get plenty hot. If you plan on making
a habit of pan-roasting, consider using a dedicated pan for this
as the high temperatures and coffee oils will discolor it over
time. It is not necessary to use a heavy, iron skillet unless you
want to develop your forearm muscles!
Beans have been washed and are very moist
putting them on the burner
Steam rises from the beans
For safety reasons, it is a good idea to use a cooking
mitt for the next part to avoid the heat coming off the burner.
Place the beans in the hot pan and immediately begin stirring them
around with a wooden spoon. Be careful, because the beans will
immediately begin giving off steam which can cause burns if you’re
too close to the action. Tilt the pan to about a 20-degree angle
while constantly stirring the beans. It only takes a few seconds
of inattention before the beans become scorched. After about a
minute or so, the steam dissipates and is replaced by smoke from
the beans (make sure you have your range-fan turned on high). The
beans will probably appear to be roasting unevenly, don’t
be concerned at this point. Just keep the spoon going. It should
only take five or six minutes (no kidding!) for the beans to reach
a full-city or French roast level. If it’s taking longer
than that, the heat’s not turned up high enough.
Beans appear to be roasting unevenly.
Don’t be concerned
about this. Photo was taken about 3 minutes into the roast.
After about 5 minutes. The steam has
completely burned off and has turned to smoke. Note the intensity
of the glow of the burner – this is important.
Once the desired degree of roast is obtained, take
them off the stove. Wet one of your hands with the equivalent of
about one teaspoon of water and flick the water onto the smoldering
beans. The idea here is to rapidly quench the beans to stop the
roasting process (the beans are still roasting because of a “spontaneous
combustion” effect, even though they’ve been removed
from the original heat source). The trick is to add just enough
water so that it completely vaporizes upon bean contact. Resist
the temptation to overdose the amount of water used for this, as
it takes about ½ as much as one would think. If too much
water is added, it will settle in the pan and boil off. This is
Pour out the beans onto a cool plate, spread them
around, and gently mix them up with a spoon. Placing the plate
of beans in front of a fan while turning them with a spoon works
best. This should be done outdoors or in a manner so the chaff
(skin from the bean that detaches during the roasting process)
doesn’t blow all over the place!
Well that’s it. Plain and simple. You should
give this a try if you’ve never pan-roasted before (good
experience), or even if you are a veteran pan-roaster (new experience).
Viola!! Nothing better than fresh roasted
coffee beans! Tsege roasted these beans
to near perfection in less than seven minutes.