Best Ways To Remove Chaff From Roasted Coffee Beans

There are often obstacles to overcome for those who want to roast their own coffee beans.

One of these includes dealing with the chaff on the beans.

While there isn’t a one-size answer to this situation, there are ways to handle it!

Continue on, and you’ll learn what chaff is, why it should be removed, how you can remove it and what options you have for it once you’ve done so.


What Is Chaff?

Like some fruit and vegetables out there, coffee beans have a skin that needs to be removed.

This skin is known as the chaff.

Many coffee lovers realize that a small amount of chaff won’t effect the drink too much, but they don’t want a lot of it.

Consequently, many seek to find ways to get the majority of it away from the rest of the beans.

That way, it doesn’t end up floating around in their morning brew.

In most cases, the chaff can begin to remove itself during the roasting process, but sometimes it needs a little help.

Why Should You Remove It?

The thought process for this is similar to removing the peel from an orange.

It’s just not the most enjoyable thing to consume a lot of.

Furthermore, the flavor and effects of coffee come from the beans themselves, the chaff plays little to no role.

Just keep in mind that it won’t be necessary to remove every little piece.

If you don’t want to put forth the effort yourself, some roasters also do a good job of helping the process.

This can be worth keeping in mind if you don’t already have a roaster and are interested in getting one.

Brief Roasting Stages

If you’re new to roasting your own coffee beans, then it’s important to have an understanding of how the process works.

There are several stages involved, ranging from green to a full burn. Both of which are best for avoiding in your coffee.

Knowing  these stages can help you to know how long to cook before achieving the perfect roast.

After the first crack, the beans begin to become acceptable for brewing.

At that point, you’ll have to be careful to make sure you get the right level of roasting, until the second crack.


If you’re shooting for a darker roast, then that second crack is what you’re looking for.

At this point, you’ll be likely to notice a change in the smell of the smoke.

A dark roast will have been achieved, and you’ll want to stop the roasting process pretty quickly.

Otherwise, it may result in your beans burning.

If that happens, you’ll have to start all over again if you don’t want burnt-tasting coffee.

Keep in mind that the process can take a great deal of fine tuning.

It’s also going to depend on what type of roasting process you decide to use, from popcorn poppers to air and drum roaster.

How Can You Remove It?

Use Colanders

One method coffee roasters use includes the use of 2 colanders.

As soon as your beans are finished roasting, they’ll be placed into one colander.

You’ll then move the beans to the other colander, and back again.

This process will help to pull away any of the remaining chaff without too much effort.

The good news is that because the beans expand while they’re being roasted, the chaff does come off a decent amount before this process.

While it’s wise to get rid of most of the chaff, don’t be too concerned if there is a little bit left.

Roasters That Handle Chaff

As mentioned earlier, there are many roasters out there that handle the chaff during the roasting process.

Air roasters are often particularly good for this because the blown air moves the chaff into another space.

Drum roasters can also do a decent job, just through the friction of the beans moving around the roasting container.

However, not all options are going to be as great for getting rid of the chaff.

For example, roasting coffee beans in your oven may not do as much to get rid of the chaff.

That said, some amount of the chaff will peel up from the beans anyway due to the expansion.

Getting Creative

If you have a creative streak in you, there’s also the option for creating your own chaff-removing tool.

Some do this through using materials like tubing, vacuums, string, ducting and more.

The materials you use can depend on just how many beans you’re roasting at a time.

You’ll also want to be careful to use materials that can handle the heat without too much trouble.

Get pieces that won’t melt or leave any kind of unwanted residue on your coffee beans.

What To Do With It After

You have a few choices when it comes to dealing with your chaff once it’s removed.

Not everyone knows that they can do anything with it aside from throwing it away!

While it isn’t an option that is really able to be re-used for consumption purposes, that doesn’t mean it’s useless!

Once you’ve separated the chaff from your beans, consider carefully what you want to do with it.

It  can be very helpful to try an option that allows you to get the most possible benefit from it.

That said, the ultimate choice on what to do with these remaining bits is yours!

Toss It

Throwing the chaff out with the garbage is the most common option.

It’s not necessarily a bad thing. Coffee chaff is a natural substance and would break down in time.

However, it can get mixed up with garbage that isn’t biodegradable, which can keep it from being able to do so.

This aspect is important to keep in mind when you’re deciding what to do with the chaff.

There are other options out there that can allow it to be useful rather than wrapped up in plastic.

It’s important to consider all of your options when you’re throwing things out!

Compost It!

For those who are interested in it, composting the chaff can be a great idea.

If you keep a compost pile at your home already, then it’s a simple thing to add the chaff to the pile.

On the other hand, not everyone keeps a compost pile!

It’s worthwhile to ask around and see if anyone you know has one and would be willing to take the chaff.

This allows what would otherwise be wasted to become useful in growing plants.

Consequently, the person growing the plants doesn’t need to buy fertilizer and you won’t need to worry about your chaff sitting at the top of a pile of garbage with no use.


When you’re roasting your own coffee beans, having a plan to remove the chaff is a great idea.

Some roasters can help you with that process, but others may not.

There are some simple ways to get the job done using colanders or other household tools.

Or you can opt to design your own device just perfect for the task.

Whatever you decide to do is completely your choice!

Just don’t be concerned if there’s a little bit remaining with your beans after, it’s perfectly normal!


Brian Mounts

Head blogger, editor, and owner of "Top Off My Coffee", a website that has been educating readers about coffee brewing techniques and equipment since 2012.

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