How to Roast Green Coffee Beans with a Popcorn Popper

A method that I am very fond of, enabling beginners to step into the world of coffee roasting quickly and easily, without spending much.

While there are no popcorn poppers specifically designed for roasting coffee, for around $30, you are able to pick up a new popcorn popper and begin roasting green coffee beans instantly.

When used properly, you are left with even roasts in a very short timeframe.

Before getting into the how of roasting coffee beans with a popcorn popper I must warn you. You should NEVER leave the popcorn popper unattended while roasting coffee.

This isn’t what the machine is designed to be used for and running at high temperatures runs the risk of a fire, as it’s not impossible for the machine to combust. While rare, it is still something I must warn you about.

Considerations before roasting coffee beans with a popcorn popper

  • Ensure that you are roasting your beans outside or in a well ventilated area. The popcorn popper method can prove to be a smokey method and you’d want to avoid smelling out your entire house.
  • Using a popcorn popper with a metal chamber as opposed to a mesh chamber is safer, as the mesh bottoms can potentially be a fire hazard.
  • Good lighting, this will allow you to see clearly inside the popcorn popper to tell the roast of the beans.
  • NEVER leave the popcorn popper unattended, as mentioned above, if it begins to get hot it may combust.

Now, let’s get into how to roast green coffee beans using a popcorn popper.

How to roast coffee beans with a popcorn popper

A quick video on how to roast coffee beans with a popcorn popper.

Roasting coffee beans in a popcorn popper can be done in 5 simple and easy to follow steps:

  1. Set up your popcorn popper outside or in a well ventilated area.
  2. Following the popcorn popper manufacturers instructions measure out the same amount of fresh coffee beans that they recommend for popcorn.
    This is usually between ½ and ¾ of a cup – generally any more than this can lead to the popcorn popper not being able to move the beans around leaving you with an uneven roast and potential fire hazard.
  3. Place the lid on, position the chute in a bowl to catch anything that files out and turn the machine on.
  4. Depending on your roast preference, your beans will be roasted between 5 to 10 minutes.
  5. Once the desired roast has been achieved, you can turn off the popper and remove your beans, allowing them to cool before using them.

And there you have it, 5 steps to quickly and efficiently roast your coffee beans.

Allow the coffee beans to cool and degas before moving them to an airtight container for proper storage.

How long does it take to roast coffee beans in a popcorn popper?

Depending on how dark you like your coffee beans and how powerful your popcorn popper is, the roasting process is pretty quick. Enabling you to achieve most roasts within 5 to 10 minutes.

Below is a simple color chart provided by BonCafe. Following this chart allows you to see all the different stages of roasting.

On the lighter side of the chart, these roasts will typically take 3 to 5 minutes (depending on your popper’s heat) with the darker side of the chart pushing closer to 10 minutes.

Coffee Roast Chart

Pros and Cons of Using a Popcorn Popper to Roast Your Coffee Beans

Pros

  • Inexpensive, being able to pick up a popcorn popper for ~$30 makes it the perfect method for beginner roasters.
  • Although possible, no modifications to the popper are needed or required.
  • In a short period of time and minimal effort you will have freshly roasted coffee beans.

Cons

  • A lot of chaff (a thin layer off the beans) will fall off during the process and out of the chute, if not caught in a bowl it can cause some mess.
  • Some new popcorn poppers don’t get hot enough – it’s recommended to find an older model.
  • Using a mesh bottom may become a potential fire hazard if the chaff gets caught in or beneath it.
  • Proper ventilation is needed as roasting coffee produces smoke.
  • You can only roast a small amount of beans at one time.

Conclusion

If you are just breaking into coffee roasting, I can not recommend this method enough.

It’s super quick, inexpensive (most people have a popcorn popper hidden away somewhere at home) and a fun way to get started.

Within 10 minutes you’ll have yourself a freshly roasted batch of coffee beans, that you can enjoy at anytime.

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