It is a great time to be a coffee roaster. Just ten years ago it was nearly impossible to source fresh coffee beans for home roasting. One would have to purchase wholesale through an importer, or buy unroasted coffee direct from a café. Now with the internet it is extremely easy for roasters to buy coffee online. A world of specialty coffee beans are a few clicks away, then shipped right to your door so you can begin home roasting.
Buying Coffee Online
If you’re wondering where to buy coffee online, there are numerous options to choose from. There are pros and cons to shopping over the internet, and one must weigh these before making a purchase.
The pros are simple:
- freshness of product
- and more options to choose from
The cons are:
- you can’t sample the beans beforehand
- you may not have heard of the roaster you are purchasing from
- you are often stuck with high shipping costs
Buying the Best Coffee Beans
There are typical ecommerce resources out there like Yahoo, but bulk wholesale distributors like that don’t offer fresh product (and often don’t sell green coffee). Their beans sit in a warehouse for months on end until they are purchased and shipped out to the customer. Bulk wholesale coffee distributors also sell the product of many different roasters, and often focus only on margins, product availability and distribution channels, rather than specialty coffee scoring, cupping awards, taste, and quality and consistency of product.
The best place to buy coffee beans online is usually direct from a small batch craft roaster. These artisan roasters source their beans direct from the farms of origin, undergoing a thorough vetting process of the producers. They are often held to SCAA (Specialty Coffee Association of America) standards, which sets standards for growing, roasting, and brewing coffees. Their quality control also includes the producer, exporter and importer chain, so you’re sure to have the highest product available if you go that route.
Roasting Your Coffee Beans at Home
Once you have found a trusted source to buy coffee online, you must then approach the craft of home roasting. We recommend HotTop Roasters, in particular the KN-8828B-2K, which is the favorite here at Cafe37. There are numerous online guides available if you’re just looking to get started with home coffee roasting.
Here are my tips to get you going:
- Choose a quality home roaster (again, the HotTop KN-8828B-2K is a good choice)
- Choose your green coffee (all about finding the right vendor to buy coffee online from)
- Roasting your first batch
- Watch as your beans will turn from green to yellow
- Then the beans will start to steam as they heat up
- Now you’ll start to smell the sweet aroma of the beans beginning to roast. The beans will crack as this process happens.
- Next the beans begin to plump and the roast will darken
- If you hear a second crack you’re getting closer to a Vienna roast.
- If you keep roasting, they smell will get more intense and you’ll head to a French roast profile.
- That’s where we leave off, as anything darker than a French roast is burned in our opinion.
We hope that these tips on the home roasting process were helpful as we explored everything from sourcing your beans and buying coffee online to purchasing a roaster and attempting your first batch. Enjoy!