How To Roast Coffee Beans

How To Roast Coffee Beans

Do you prefer light or dark roast coffee? Or do your taste buds like it somewhere in between? 

No matter where you fall on the coffee roast spectrum, you don’t have to rely on Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, or Folger’s for a good cup of joe. A delicious sense of accomplishment is born when you create your own coffee brew, from start to finish.

That’s where Iced Coffee Recipes comes in

Here, we explore how to roast coffee beans for light, medium, and dark roast coffee lovers.

The Coffee Bean

Let’s talk about green beans. Nope, not the veggies from your grandma’s garden. We’re talking raw coffee beans, taken from the coffee fruit and left to dry, then put on the market for you to purchase.

Dried coffee beans are kept “green” to preserve their flavors and freshness. Green coffee beans can last for at least a year if stored in a cupboard or pantry (not the refrigerator). Roasting coffee beans releases their unique flavors, which then only linger for about 30 days if stored right. The sooner you brew your coffee after roasting the beans, the more enjoyable that fresh cup will be. 

Buyer’s Tip: Buy green coffee beans in bulk from a grower to save money. More beans mean more opportunities to experiment with different roasting techniques.

Green Coffee Beans

Types of Coffee Roasts

When learning how to roast coffee beans, you should know what type of roast you prefer. Roasting coffee beans may bring out the best in the beans or the worst, depending on your preference and how they’re roasted. 

Whether you want to brew your basic pot of coffee or experiment with unique cold-brew recipes, it all starts with a roast.

Types Of Roasts

Light Roasts

Light coffee roasts are made from coffee beans that are only slightly roasted. The end result is typically a more acidic or not as potent brew, also lighter in color. Some examples of light roasts include: 

  • Light city
  • Half city
  • Cinnamon
  • New England

Medium Roasts

Medium roast is the most popular coffee roast in America, so it’s no wonder one of those roasts is referred to as the American roast. A few types of medium roasts are:

  • City
  • House blend
  • American
  • Breakfast

Medium-Dark Roasts

These dark brown roasted beans have a somewhat oily surface. They also brew coffee with an aftertaste that is somewhat bittersweet. Some medium-dark roasts include: 

  • Full city
  • Vienna

Dark Roasts

Bitterness increases as coffee beans roast longer, which is why dark roasts typically taste so bitter. They also don’t have as much caffeine as medium roasts. Here are just some types of dark roasts:

  • High
  • New Orleans
  • Espresso
  • French

The Physical Stages of Coffee Roasting

Coffee Bean Roasts

Timing is essential for flavor development when roasting coffee beans. The number of stages your beans experience depends on the type of coffee roast you’re going for, so don’t even think about the “set it and forget it” mentality. The entire process can take around 15 minutes.

These are 6 basic stages of the roasting process:


It doesn’t take long for green coffee beans to turn pale in the beginning phase of roasting. They then turn a shade of yellow with an aroma somewhere between grass and hay. 


The sugars and amino acids begin to caramelize inside the beans as the beans reach around 295 degrees Fahrenheit. This causes the beans to start turning brown and emit a sweeter smell.

First Crack

When you hear the first crack, you know it’s getting real. Your coffee beans are breaking down, and the oils are anxious to leave them. At this point, the beans have reached the light city roast.


The development phase begins after the first crack. The beans get a bit darker and start to expand while the oils continue their exit process, still not fully exposed. Flavor morphs in a matter of seconds as the beans continue to roast. The longer you roast your beans after the first crack, the more types medium roasts they morph through. 

Second Crack

Shortly after the second crack come the medium-dark roasts. The oils finally make it out of the beans, and the roast flavor overpowers the flavor of the original green coffee beans.


At this point, all the sugars start to burn, and carbon begins to form. It’s best to stop before you catch something on fire….

Roasting Tip: If possible, roast your coffee beans outdoors. Roasting coffee beans inside has been known to lead to a smoke-filled kitchen and the sound of obnoxious smoke detectors. 

Storing Roasted Coffee Beans

Freshly roasted coffee beans should be stored in an air-tight container at room temp—not in the fridge. Light can actually affect the tantalizing taste you worked so hard to achieve by roasting your own coffee, so avoid storing your beans in a clear container. 

The goodness of roasted coffee beans lasts around 30 days, but you’ll experience the best taste within the first two weeks of roasting. 

For more fun with coffee, be sure to check out all the awesome recipes on our site. Already tried one? Tell us how it turned out!

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