I wanted the first batch to be a sort of experiment. I wanted to know if there really WAS a difference, semi-objectively. So I chose to start with Costa Rican Tarrazu beans, since I had some that I had bought and could use them to make a comparison with. Well, maybe not a completely fair comparison, since the bought beans were already some hmmphmm weeks old in the house. But at least it gave me a place to start.
I followed the destructions given here. I used the lower temperature - 410 F - to start with, but when the beans didn't crack at 12 minutes, I turned the oven up to 425 F and waited. 4 minutes later I was started to get nervous but there was finally a crack. I kept waiting for the second surge of cracking, but it never came, and the first cracking actually never fully stopped. I'm going to guess that means my beans weren't roasting uniformly. Maybe I had too many in the pan, or not enough space in the center, I don't know. In any case, after 18 and a half minutes they were quite dark, so I finally just took them out. Then it was just a matter of letting them cool, and shaking them in the collander to get the little chafy stuff off.
Then came the experiment. I had to wait for the house to clear a bit, because all I could smell at first was the smokey roasting smell, which I LOVE, by the way. I would fill the house with that smell all the time, if the hubs didn't object so strongly. It wasn't as smokey as I thought it would be, but I did have a pretty hefty fan blowing through the kitchen and straight out the wide-open window.
I measured out the same amount of beans from the bag of Costa Rica Tarrazu and my freshly roasted. The first big difference I noticed was the smell of the beans themselves. What a difference. HUGE! The bought beans smelled bitter and flat. Not stale, just bitter. The fresh beans had a really strong smell, a full smell. Much richer and more complex.
I made myself two cups of coffee and carefully tasted each. I won't even bother to say I "cupped", because I'm such a rank amateur at this it's not funny. But I tasted. And waited. Then tasted the other. Back and forth a few times, letting the coffee flavors speak to me. There is a definite difference.
Now, those folx who have done this will think I'm being silly, but ... frankly, as the hubs was happy to tell me, there's a lot of hype about coffee and various coffee preparation - machines and beans and such - and I'm inclined to agree with him somewhat. I did feel a little bit skeptical. I wondered how much of that praise and rapture is just ... fashion. I had to know, I had to test it for myself. Even if there hadn't been a big difference, I would have enjoyed the process. But now I can say that there is definitely a difference in the flavor of coffee made from a freshly roasted bean. A big difference. The bought coffee was good, but the flavor of the other was fuller, bigger. I don't think it was something I've ever tasted, so I'm not sure what to compare it to.
It was like the difference between a freshly picked rose and one that's sat in a vase for a few days. If you've only ever smelled the 2 day old rose, you would think it smells nice, and you would enjoy it, but you wouldn't know what you were missing. You wouldn't have been blessed by the subtle complexities from the aroma of a fresh rose.
That's what this experience was like. My nose and taste buds went "ahhhhh, I never knew ... "
The kicker -- the hubs likes it. Before I did this, he said stuff like "You know, you can just BUY those beans at the store and not have to go through all this trouble". But after I served him up his very own cup, he raved. In fact, he went back for another cup this evening. And he said something to the effect of "I wouldn't go through all this trouble myself, but any time you want to roast some more beans, I'll be happy to help you use them up."
That's high praise from the real skeptic in this house.
Now the question is, shall I keep doing it in the oven, or shall I invest in the roasting machine thingy?