Honestly? It’s not as hard as you might think it is. You get a hold of some green coffee beans, you pop them in your home roaster, you roast them until they’re just the way you want them and voila. Coffee! Grind it in a decent burr grinder and you’re ready to brew.
Anyway. To roast your coffee, you’ll need to know a little bit about 1st and 2nd crack. What is that? Well, I’m glad you asked. When your green beans are whirling around in the heated air of the iRoast2 (it’s kind of like a snooty popcorn air popper) they are slowly heating up to roasting temperatures. The green beans have a bit of moisture in them and as the seed heats up it fractures (between 390F and 410F) releasing the moisture in the form of steam. If you’re really listening, you can hear them crack as they whirl around. Once you hear that First Crack, your coffee is beginning to roast; something magic is happening. After you do this a few times you start to get a feel for when Second Crack is about to happen. That’s generally where I stop roasting regular coffee (They call that point a Full City roast) because if you go past that point, the flavor is more about the roast and less about the local characteristics of those fancy green beans you bought. If you’re going to pay for a Hawaiian Kona or a Costa Rican Candelilla, you want it to TASTE like a Kona or Candelilla, right?
"Even bad coffee is better than no coffee at all."
The Second Crack takes place when the cellular matrices of the coffee begins to break down, freeing the various oils that are trapped within. You’ll hear this crack too, and you’ll see the beans get shiny from the oil. If you went this far, you made espresso.
Here's a really great visual guide for the many stages of roasting.
"The morning cup of coffee has an exhilaration about it which the cheering influence of the afternoon or evening cup of tea cannot be expected to reproduce."
Now you’re done! That wasn’t so hard, was it? All you did was put the green beans in your iRoast, enter your roast profile and then hit start. You waited patiently until you felt second crack was about to take place and then started the cooling process. You open the iRoast2, and you poured the beans into a plastic colander. After 10 minutes or so you stuck ‘em in one of Sweet Maria’s vacuum sealed baggies and the next day (once they’ve had a little time to breathe off that CO2) you’ve got the most awesome coffee in the city.
Not bad, eh?