Posted on 02 May 2011 by Nate
The primary impetus for purchasing my Rancilio Silvia and learning to make good espresso at home was to have control over my coffee and the process. Several years ago, after getting familiar with my Rancilio Silvia and learning proper espresso techniques, I had an interesting thought. The home espresso experience really only focuses on the tail end of the coffee spectrum. We purchase roasted beans and use our technological tools and technique to produce the end result: great espresso. However, after a two week trip to Tanzania during which I was able to witness coffee production literally at its root, I began wanting to at least take a small step up the coffee chain and add one more element of control over the process: roasting.
If you own are considering purchasing a Rancilio Silvia, you’re obviously serious about good coffee at home. Through home roasting, you can add some influence to the end result and begin to enjoy what is really a fun hobby. Home roasting can be made as elemental or complex as you prefer as there are several different methods of roasting coffee beans.
To be honest, I began with two of the simplest methods of roasting espresso to use in my Rancilio Silvia: the HG/DB technique and popcorn roasters. The HG/DB technique is also referred to as the “heat gun dog bowl technique” because, well, you roast the coffee in a dog bowl with a heat gun. Simple enough, right? I am apparently slightly allergic to burning coffee chaff that blows off during the process, so for me standing right over the roast and manually stirring wasn’t the greatest idea in the world. After this discovery, I started going to thrift shops and purchasing old popcorn poppers which can be wonderfully modified and used to roast small batches of espresso at home.
If you’re interested in trying home roasting for your Rancilio Silvia or other home espresso unit, there are many resources online to get you started. Regardless of whether you choose to go the thrift store route or start off with a dedicated home roasting unit, which I have done, it’s not a bad idea to start with one of these two elementary methods to learn about coffee roasting technique. Additionally, you’re probably going to ruin a couple of batches in the early days and these two methods allow you to do that in small quantities as opposed to scorching a pound of green beans at a time.
After learning to roast coffee in small quantities and deciding that I really wanted to begin roasting larger batches, I subsequently moved on to the IRoast home coffee roaster. I looked at several different models and read loads of reviews and finally settled on this unit as it roasts just enough espresso to get me through a few days and has several terrific built in programs, including a cooling cycle.
There are a few benefits to roasting at home. The first is that you always have fresh espresso. To get rich, crema-laden goodness from the Rancilio Silvia you need freshly roasted beans and after realizing that I was spending $30 a month for beans online, I decided it was actually more economical to at least roast some coffee at home. Additionally, as mentioned above, it gets you involved in the process. And if you’re a tinkerer, it’s a natural step in your coffee geek progression.
If you’re serious about great espresso and are interested in getting a little more involved in the process, consider doing some research on roasting your own beans at home. It’s a great way to enhance your home espresso experience and always have freshly roasted beans on hand for your Rancilio Silvia.