Both amateur and experienced roasters look for ways to evenly roast coffee beans to get that perfect temperature. Lucky for you, I have attempted just about every possible way to roast coffee beans and am here to share some tips.
Can you roast coffee beans in a slow cooker crock pot? In short, no. Slow cookers in general only get up to about 300°F. In order to properly roast coffee, you need to reach at least 400°F to get the first crack, and most roasters heat the beans to a minimum of 420°F, even for light roasts.
While this is unfortunate news for those of us who want to have an easy time roasting, there are alternatives, as well as similar possibilities that you can utilize to roast your coffee to perfection.
What Happens if You Put Coffee Beans in a Slow Cooker?
There are multiple possible options when trying to roast coffee beans in a slow cooker. These options depend on your slow cooker, and potentially the beans as well. I personally own two crock pots – one is old and does not come up to heat easily, the other is new and gets very hot very fast. I use them at different times for different foods, but for roasting coffee, neither does the trick.
The Crock Pot is Too Weak
With the old crock pot, it never gets even close to a first crack. This means the coffee is never officially roasted. I have left it in over an hour and a half, and ended up with discolored beans that were not usable. These could potentially get roasted a second time, but I would advise against that. Using a weak crockpot is clearly not an ideal method, and will result in you wasting money and time that could be spent with your beloved, warm beverage.
The Crock Pot is (Probably) Able to Crack Them
In a newer, much hotter crock pot, I had a little more success. The beans began to get brown much quicker, and while I never got a crack, I do think if I left them in long enough I may be able to achieve this. The problem with that is, they have been cooking (roasting) much too long.
Even if you had a slow cooker that got up to 400°F or more, it would not be ideal for roasting coffee beans. Coffee beans need to be roasted much quicker than a slow cooker can accomplish. This helps them retain their flavor and caffeine.
So, What do You Do?
While this is an unfortunate finding for many people who would otherwise roast coffee beans in a crock pot, this does not need to be the end of your journey to roasting! While I advise heavily against using a crock pot, there are many other appliances that you may have in your home that could easily do the trick. Here is a short, incomplete list of my favorites!
5 Alternative (Easy) Roasting Methods Similar to a Crock Pot
1 – Air Roaster
This is probably one of the least likely items on this list to be in your house. If you are fortunate enough to own one of these, they are absolutely perfect for getting a small, well-balanced roast. Fortunately, there are plenty of options that are affordable, so you can easily get into this hobby for a low-startup cost.
2 – Popcorn Popper
If you are looking for a very cheap alternative to an air roaster, a popcorn popper actually does the trick very well. This is used by many people starting out to achieve an air-roasted taste without incurring the costs of a real roaster. If you don’t already have one of these machines in your home, you can easily get one for a super low cost.
I personally started with a popcorn popper to roast, and still love to do so when I don’t want to make a large batch. The popper also blows air which removes the chaff – which is very convenient for a home roaster (but can make a mess!). I highly suggest this method, it is as easy as it gets, is affordable, and is so much fun to share your beans with friends and family.
3 – In the Oven
Don’t want to purchase anything new? The oven is a perfectly acceptable way to roast. While it is not a perfect method, you will definitely be able to control, for the most part, the level of roast you are getting. You will want to heat the oven to about 450°F, and spread the beans evenly across the pan in a single layer. Unfortunately, with the oven there is little control over airflow and stirring, so this can lead to less even roasting. It is great if you don’t need a perfectly even roast and just want to get used to roasting as a beginner!
4 – In a Pan
If you’ve been searching for home roasting, you have undoubtedly seen that a pan can work for roasting your beans. There are several pros and cons to this method. I say, in general, it is a good idea if you are dedicated to learning. When roasting in a pan, you need to keep moving the beans. Stir constantly to avoid an uneven roast or burning many of the beans. It can be exhausting, even if it is only for a few minutes.
On the plus side, roasting in a pan allows you to see the beans stages of roasting, and can allow for a more even roast (if you keep them moving). This is great for beginners to really understand the beans they are working with. I think everyone should roast on their stovetop in a pan at least once.
5 – On a Smoker or Grill
Roasting coffee beans in a smoker is definitely possible, though it is not the easiest or most even-roasting method available. Similar to an oven, smokers and grills allow for little control over the air flow and evenness of the roast. Thankfully, you are able to stir the beans in a grill, and can occasionally stir them in a smoker without ruining the temperature. Keep in mind – you need your heat to be at least 400°F when roasting – or close to that with a flame beneath will do the trick. For this method, I like to use a tin baking pan, and fill just the bottom with beans. I stir the beans occasionally while they roast, but try to keep the heat up and consistent.
Roasting coffee beans in a crock pot is not a good idea. Not only is it unlikely the beans will ever even get to the first crack, you will likely ruin the beans in the process. If you manage to wait long enough to get them cracked, you will likely experience the beans being bitter and lacking in caffeine.
To roast home beans with an appliance that is readily available, you can use the oven, a pan, a popcorn popper, a grill or smoker, or you can purchase a small home air roaster. I would suggest you try roasting with what is readily available, and then move on depending on the end goal you want to achieve with it.