The Basics of Coffee Roasting: A Comprehensive Guide

Have you ever wondered what goes into roasting coffee beans? If you’re interested in learning more about coffee roasting and how to do it yourself, then this guide is for you. In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about coffee roasting basics.

Understanding the Roasting Process

Before we delve into the roasting process, it’s important to note that there are different types of roasters and methods that you can use. However, the focus of this guide is to help you understand the roasting process so that you can apply this information to any method you choose.

The first step to roasting coffee is to start controlling the variables, so you can roast consistently. The first variable to control is the amount of coffee beans you use. By weighing out the beans before and after the roast, you can calculate the percentage of weight that was lost during the roasting process. This information is valuable because it helps you compare different roasts to see how they differ from each other.

The Stages of Roasting

Roasting coffee beans happens in several stages. The first stage is the drying phase, where the beans are just moving around and starting to build up some temperature. The second stage is the yellowing phase, where you’ll see a very distinct yellow color on the beans. The third stage is the browning phase, where the beans start to look more like coffee, but they are still light in color.

Once the internal temperature of the beans is high enough, all the moisture inside the beans will try to break out, and this is where the first crack occurs. The first crack sounds like popcorn and builds up to a crescendo before slowly tapering off. After the first crack, there is a brief period of silence, which is called the lull.

If you continue roasting after the lull, you’ll hit the second crack. This crack is not as strong as the first one, but you’ll definitely still hear it. Dark roasting territory starts after the second crack. Understanding the different sounds and stages of roasting is crucial to stopping your coffee at the light, medium, or dark level depending on your preference.

Achieving the Perfect Roast

To achieve the perfect roast, you need to understand the different stages of roasting and know how far to go to get the level of roast that you prefer. Keep in mind that light, medium, and dark roasts are not defined points, but spectrums. There are some simple signs to look out for to help you get to the stage you prefer.

For a light roast, you should stop your coffee anytime after the first crack has begun to build momentum, peak, and start to taper off. For a medium roast, you should wait until there’s silence after the first crack has completely finished, but before the second crack starts. For a dark roast, you should continue roasting past the second crack until you reach your desired roast level.


Coffee roasting is an art that takes time and practice to master. By understanding the roasting process and the different stages of roasting, you can learn how to roast coffee beans to your preference. Remember to control your variables, including the amount of coffee beans you use, to achieve consistency in your roasts. Now, go ahead and give coffee roasting a try. Who knows you might just discover a new passion for creating the perfect cup of coffee. And if you have any further questions or need guidance, don’t hesitate to ask!