Ask the Alchemist #6

Short answers on Roasting

I ended my roast and realized the beans were not fully roasted. What will happen if I roast them further?

They will get hot again. Seriously, you can try and re-roast them, as you having nothing to lose, but the odds are you won’t get a perfectly roasted bean. Why? Because, whereas they look like they did when you first started, there is a lot less water present (which, no, you can’t really add back). That water is critical for some of the chemical reactions that occur during the roasting process. Think about roasting a chicken. It’s underdone. It’s cool. You put it back in to roast again. It’s just not going to be the same succulent bird it could have been. Edible. Maybe good. But not great and even if it is great, you probably can’t do it again.

What are the pros and cons of roasting whole beans vs. nibs?


  • Pros:
  • More difficult to over roast.
  • Winnowing is easier Uniform size allows for a more even roast
  • Cons:
  • It more difficult to do in a conventional oven.


  • Pros:
  • Easier to toast in a pan, or roast in a conventional or convection oven.
  • If you are buying the nibs, you don’t have to winnow.
  • Cons:
  • It is easier to burn nibs because they are smaller and different sizes.
  • You cannot use a drum roaster
  • If you are winnowing yourself, raw beans are harder to winnow.

How long can I store roasted beans and how do you recommend they are stored?

Store them cool and dry. Do not refrigerate. Cocoa readily absorbs moisture and aromas and there are a lot of those in most refrigerators.

How long? It depends on why you want them. Eating and cooking as nibs and beans? Probably a few months. It is a very flavorful, bright and jazzy bean you want to make into a very flavorful, bright and jazzy chocolate – possibly under a week. Everything else is somewhere in between. A few weeks. They won’t go bad, but will slowly stale to mediocrity. If you have to wait months, just don’t roast them. If they are already roasted, go ahead and make chocolate…you have nothing to lose and knowledge to gain about how long roasted beans are good for.

One Response to “Ask the Alchemist #6”

  1. I am under a 20 c license and asked the inspector if I could roast beans at events. He said it would be fine but I couldn’t sell them unless I got another inspection for that place. So I did it for the smell, I roasted, sacrificed beans that I had already roasted, people loved the smell, I later hand shelled and tasted the beans and they were pretty good. Don’t be afraid to try it. You might find something amazing.

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