A basic guide to roasting coffee in a frying pan

The frying pan method is probably one of the most approachable ways to roast coffee, but it’s also one of the more challenging methods to master.  We highly recommend trying this method at least once; it’s a great way to experience the magic of coffee roasting.  Just know that there are much easier ways to go about it.

We call this the frying pan method, but you can use any pan that will hold the coffee beans and that you can safely place on a burner.  A skillet or soup pot would work, and a nice round bottom wok would be the best. The biggest factor in pan selection is that you want to use a metal pan that’s thick and doesn’t have any kind of coating:  carbon steel, stainless steel or cast iron are all excellent choices.  Alternately, a Whirley Pop or stove top popcorn popper works well with this technique and the built in stirring device has the added benefit of keeping the beans evenly agitated.


Electric or gas burner, pan, oven mitts, stirring device (wooden spoon or wire whisk), metal colander.


  • Arrange all of your equipment within easy reach.  Turn on your exhaust fan if available, if not, we recommend roasting outside or with the windows open.
  • Measure out your coffee beans; you want enough in the pan so that it is easy to stir them.  Start with about ½ cup and adjust accordingly.
  • Preheat your pan over medium heat (the exact temperature setting will depend on your stove) you want the pan nice and hot, about 500F.
  • Pour in the beans and start stirring.  You’ll want to keep the beans moving, but you don’t need to be too aggressive.
  • Over a period of 8-10 minutes you’ll want to see the beans proceed through a steady color change from green to yellow, golden brown to light brown, and light brown to dark brown.  You may need to adjust your heat level to maintain an even progression.
  • At around 5 minutes or when the beans turn from golden to light brown you should hear the “First Crack”.  Coffee is palatable from this stage on and it’s up to you to determine when it’s done.  Keep in mind that you’ll need to dump the beans a shade or two lighter than where you want to end up.  The beans will continue to cook a little during the cooling process.
  • After the first crack ends the beans will continue to darken, as they change from a light brown to a dark brown you’ll hear the “Second Crack”.  The second crack will continue, but from this point on you are marching towards charcoal.
  • When you are ready, dump the beans into your metal colander and continue to stir until they are cool.  While you are cooling the beans, all of the chaff that came off during the roasting process will fall through the holes of the colander, so you’ll want to do this outside or over some sort of receptacle.
  • Once cool, allow the coffee to off-gas for at least 4 hours or overnight, then store in an airtight container.   Stored properly, the coffee will be fresh for 5-7 days.
  • Enjoy!