So you’re looking to dip your toe into the waters of roasting your own coffee?
Buying your coffee beans raw, when they are unroasted and still a green color, can save a whole bunch of money while also being a cool little hobby. But you need to find somewhere to get those green coffee beans from.
So where can you buy green coffee beans?
Your best bet is an online retailer, physical locations selling green coffee are few and far between. These online stores will typically be large sellers of green coffee beans that can offer excellent prices and a varied range of beans from around the world.
My preferred choice and the one I can personally vouch for is Sweet Maria’s, arguably the largest online retailer of green coffee.
Now, buying green coffee and roasting it yourself is awesome for so many reasons, but comes with a few things you should know. I’ll try my best to fit it all into this article here if you bear with me!
Where To Buy Green Coffee Beans
A trawl around your local city or county is not likely to prove fruitful if you’re after some green coffee beans. The places that’ll serve you a pound or two bag of coffee beans are likely to roast their own, really the only way to get them is from wholesalers.
Luckily, it’s 2018 (as of writing) and the internet has come to save the day. There are many reputable wholesalers who will sell coffee beans in quantities that are appropriate for the home consumer.
Sweet Maria’s. This is the biggest name in the green coffee world and the one with the best reputation.
Check out their website to see loads and loads of options for green coffee beans, I check just now and you’ve got about 100 different varieties of blends and single origins.
The coffee bean are all high quality, they have great coffees from Ethiopia or Kenya for as little as $6 a pound when buying in small quantities and typically a little cheaper if you buy in bulk.
They also offer specialty coffees which can reach up to $18 a bag – still cheaper than buying roasted coffee from somewhere that knows what its doing!
They’re really great about providing information about their coffee as well, including the roasts that will bring out the best of the coffee and detailed tasting notes. Even photos of the farms where the beans were grown.
Here’s a sample of the Costa Rica Don May El Llano which I haven’t tried but very much want to after reading the blurb about it!
El Llano is a bittersweet brew, and finds balanced flavors of toffee and baking cocoa in middle roasts, as well as a subtle green apple note that adds structure. City+ to Full City+. Good for espresso.
There are plenty of other green coffee bean sellers that you can find with a Google search, although I don’t know as much about them as Sweet Maria’s has always been enough for me as a modest home coffee roaster.
Tips For Buying Green Coffee
1. Begin with a starter pack. Ever been to an awesome craft brewery/bar that lets you get a flight of beer so you can try 5 different ones really easily?
Well, most online retails of unroasted coffee will let you do the same thing with their starter packs.
These will typically contain a selection of 4-5 coffees that offer a diverse range of tastes, regions, roasts and whatever else.
This is absolutely the place to start and will really help you understand the vast differences between coffee beans, which is pretty important for any would-be roaster.
2. Learn the nomenclature. Do you know the difference between a City or a Full City? How about what it means when it says the process method was ‘wet process’?
All this stuff makes a big difference to what actually happens when you drink it.
Luckily, you’re on a website that has been made by a person who’s a little too obsessive about coffee so I’ll link to all the articles I think you should know about just below so you can learn to your heart’s content.
3. Start small. The discount when you buy 20lbs looks pretty sweet at first, until you realize that you’ve bought a bag of earthy, smoky Indian coffee beans that actually is the complete opposite of the tastes you like in your coffee.
As I said, the starter packs are great, as is buying 1lb of a few different coffees and seeing what you like.
4. Go with the big names. There’s a reason the most famous coffees become the most famous coffees, they’re pretty darn amazing.
One of the darlings of the Third Wave coffee world is the Ethiopian Yirgacheffe, famed for its awesome fruitiness and dazzling notes of lemon.
Others you might want to look into if you can find them are the Costa Rican Tarrazu, the Ethiopian Guji (a personal favorite) or the Kenyan Nyeri.
What To Know When You’re Buying Green Coffee
I’ve written extensively (probably too extensively) on coffee and coffee beans and everything that makes up what goes into your cup.
So I’d like to link to a few of the articles I’ve made that really are required reading for anyone who isn’t too ‘au fait’ with the subject.
If phrases like ‘Single Origin’ or ‘Dry Processed’ are everyday parlance for you, feel free to skip them.
What Is Single Origin Coffee? (And Why You Need It In Your Life…)– Single Origin is the name given to a coffee that is produced in a single country, region or farm.
They contrast with Blends which are coffees that contain a number of different beans which are balanced to make a certain flavor profile.
Neither is better, but typically Single Origin’s will have sharper and stronger flavors whereas Blends will offer a more balanced and nuanced brew.
What Are Naturally Processed Coffee Beans? – There are two (main) methods of getting the coffee beans from the tree, out of the cherry and into the green coffee beans that are bought and sold.
Wet processing (referred to as ‘washed’) uses more machinery and is considered the ‘better’ method by many. Dry (or natural) processing leaves the coffee cherries out in the sun to dry than to be peeled by hand.
Dry processing causes the flavors inherent to the bean to stand out much more, although it is debatable if this is a good thing or not!
What Do Different Coffee Roasts Mean? (Light, Dark, City+, French…) – When you come to roast your coffee you will be aiming broadly for light, medium and dark roasts and more specifically (and certainly for espresso) to roast to things like ‘City+’ or ‘French Roast’.
There’s a whole lot to learn on this subject that you’ll have to click the link on for, in short, this is useful because many websites will give recommendations for what point in the roast is best for that particular coffee bean.
How To Read Coffee Tasting Notes (Guide To Describing Coffee And Its Flavors) – It comes as quite a shock to most people to discover that plain ol’ coffee can contain notes that shine of pink bubblegum or dried papaya or raw honey.
It’s true that the vast majority of coffee out there is stale and drowned out with milk and sugar so you’d never taste these things.
But when you’re at the point where you’re roasting your own coffee you should be looking to get involved in the amazing tastes that coffee can offer. The biggest tip I can give is… drink your coffee black.
Quick Guide To Roasting Your Own Coffee
The process for roasting your own coffee is so simple that it can be done in a frying pan! On the other hand, you can go in for large, expensive roasting equipment that regulates temperature and air flow giving you full control over your roasts.
This can reach into the thousands of dollars and are typically commercial machines.
In the middle ground comes the relatively inexpensive popcorn poppers. These are perfectly designed to roast coffee and come with none of the hassle of using a frying pan.
If you want the convenience of this then check out this one on Amazon, it’ll make the process ten times easier.
– To roast your coffee you simply need to heat it up and stir it to keep the air circulating.
– The process lasts for 6-15 minutes.
– When your coffee beans reach a certain temperature you will hear a noticeable cracking sound, called the ‘first crack’. Most people will say the beans are roasted and ready to drink at this point.
– When your coffee beans reach another, higher temperature you will hear another different but still distinct cracking sound, called the ‘second crack’. Shortly after this point the beans will become overroasted and burnt.
To see when you should stop, here’s a great graphic that shows you what roast you will be getting based on the ‘crack’ the temperature and the time you have roasted them for.