Coffee drinkers love the flavor of coffee. Whether it’s the rich, bold flavor and toasty finish of a dark roast or the bright, fruity taste of a good light roast, there’s a world of flavor when it comes to coffee. Most of us know how to brew our own coffee, but the most dedicated of coffee drinkers actually roast their own beans.
You may have a nice espresso machine and a high-end coffee grinder, but if you really want to dedicate your time to coffee, roasting your own beans is the way to go. Not only are there a host of benefits to roasting your own coffee, but you can great coffee roasters at an affordable price. Whether you want to hand roast a single serving of dark brew or get a pound of light roast at a time, you can try taking your coffee roasting into your own hands.
Some people love the smell of roasting coffee, while others want to have complete control over their beans. No matter what your preferences are, there are plenty of reasons to roast your own coffee beans.
Complete Control Over Your Coffee
Maybe your local grocery store only carries cheap, pre ground robusta beans. Or you just can’t find a roast that’s dark enough for you. Either way, you’ll have complete control over your coffee by roasting it yourself. Whether you throw them on a skillet until their a perfectly light-brown medium, or you double roast them in a high-end coffee roaster, you won’t have to rely on a brand’s roast profiles for your beans.
You can buy any green beans you want, whether they’re a single origin Ethiopian, a decaf Colombian, or an Indonesian blend, and roast them until they’re the perfect flavor profile. You can even mix and match them to make your own blends, giving you control over everything from the flavor, caffeine content, and even the acidity of your brew. If you’re dissatisfied with what’s on your store shelf, or you just want to experiment a bit, then roasting your own beans is the way to go.
It’s More Rewarding
There’s something special about doing things yourself. Just like brewing your own coffee, steaming your own milk, or pulling your own espresso shots, roasting your own beans adds to the coffee experience. Of course, if you’re pressed for time, or have limited counter space, you’ll want to pass roasting up. But by making the time investment to roast your own beans, you’ll enjoy each cup just a little more.
For many people, the morning routine is an important part of the day. You wake up, relax, and prepare yourself for whatever you’re going to tackle. Roasting beans can be a powerful addition to this ritual, whether it’s roasting a big batch once a week, or hand roasting a single serving every morning. Plus, roasting beans can be an enjoyable hobby that comes with the benefits of delicious coffee.
You’ll Save Money Over Time
If you’re into premium, gourmet coffee beans, you’re shelling out upwards of $20 per pound. Compare that to $6 per pound of green coffee beans, and the price difference adds up. Even if you buy a professional-grade coffee roaster, you’ll eventually make your money back in savings. If you’re going through half a pound per week, you can save over 350$ per year. That’ll pay off even the most luxurious of coffee roasters after a couple years. Or if you decide to go with a budget option, you’ll immediately notice the savings.
The price difference adds up even more once you factor in trips to the coffee shop. Even if you stick to a $2 cup of drip coffee per day, that’s still a few hundred dollars every year. By dedicating your time to roasting and brewing your own coffee, you can make your morning cup of joe a cost efficient part of your budget.
What To Look For In a Coffee Roaster
When you’re buying your first coffee roaster, it can be daunting. You’ll be navigating through a sea of voltages, grams-per-batch, rotation torque, and other technical terms that can easily overwhelm you. Fortunately, we can streamline the most important parts of a coffee roaster, making it simpler to navigate what roaster is best for you.
You may want to prepare your beans in bulk once per month, or you’ll find yourself making a few days worth of beans at a time. Depending on your needs, you’ll want to pay close attention to the maximum batch size. Most household coffee roasters can fit up to half a pound of beans per batch, which is great for preparing your beans once per week, or you can roast a few batches to prepare for the month.
If you want more affordable options, the batch size will be smaller. Hand roasters and smaller countertop roasters will only fit a few ounces of beans at a time. It’s also important to remember that beans lose half their weight as you roast them. So a machine with a half-pound capacity is only going to produce a quarter-pound of usable coffee beans.
Roast speed is important if you intend on roasting daily, roasting multiple batches at a time, or double roasting your beans for an extra dark roast. Most home roasters will take less than 25 minutes for your beans, but that can be too long if you’re making a fresh batch of coffee beans every morning.
Roast speed is determined by heat, the amount of beans, and the size of the coffee roaster. If you cram a half pound of beans into your roaster, it’ll take longer than just a few tablespoons. Of course, the roast itself has an impact. A light roast will take half the time of a dark roast, so make your purchase accordingly.
Roast evenness is probably the most important thing to look at when looking at a coffee roaster. Of course, size and cost will vary based on the roast evenness. A small, cheap roaster will leave the beans in one place, which can cause the outside ones to toast much faster than the inner ones. A large, expensive roaster will have a conical, rotating barrel that evenly spreads the beans to get a perfect, balanced roast.
If you want a cost and space efficient option that also gets you that even flavor, a hand roaster is the way to go. Of course, there’s much more work involved, and you’ll have to learn to roast, but you’ll save money. Plus it can be an even more rewarding experience than pressing a button and letting an automatic machine to it for you.
Even if you have the money to spend on an industrial-grade coffee roaster, you may not have the space for it. Even if you have plenty of countertops, you’re already going to be filling it up with coffee machines, grinders, and other kitchenware. This will be fine if you’re going for a smaller grinder, but if you wanna shell out for the big guns, you’ll probably need to store your roaster when you’re not using it. A small coffee roaster may be better if you’re planning on roasting every morning.
Of course, cost is a huge factor in any purchase. A high-powered coffee roaster that’ll get you a week’s worth of evenly roasted coffee will cost several hundred dollars. You can save by skipping the nicer features, or you can look at it as a long-term investment. If you can make coffee beans better than what’s at your local grocery store, you’ll be saving money in the long run. Or you can get a more cost efficient hand roaster. Make sure to consider your budget when you’re making your purchase.
The Top 6 Coffee Roasters of 2020
Now that you know what to look for in a coffee roaster, it’s time to look at the top roasters on the market right now. These roasters cover the whole price range from an affordable starter model, all the way to industrial quality. Keep in mind cost, features, and space to pick the best roaster for your setup.
Gene Cafe CBR-101
This is the best home coffee roaster on the market. The price tag may scare you away, but if you’re serious about roasting your coffee beans, then this is the way to do it. It can hold about half a pound of green beans, and takes 15 minutes for a full roast. You can adjust the heat and rotation speed to get complete control over your roast, and you can watch it happen through the clear design. It has a unique, angled design that makes sure that your coffee beans roast as evenly as possible.
FreshRoast SR500 Automatic Coffee Bean Roaster
The FreshRoast SR500 is a pretty great option for any home barista. This roaster is vertical, and doesn’t automatically rotate, so you’ll have to stir it yourself. But otherwise, you’ll be able to roast 4 ounces of beans to perfection every time. This is an air roaster, so it makes a bit of noise, but is much more space efficient on your countertop. Plus, the price is much more reasonable than the industrial grade options.
Nuvo Eco Ceramic Handy Coffee Bean Roaster
For a more rustic experience, the Nuvo Eco is a hand-roaster, requiring either an open flame or a gas stove. You can only fit a few tablespoons of coffee beans, but you have complete control over your roast. It can be fun to hold the roaster in your hand as the beans start to pop, and the roast comes out extremely even. Plus, it’s incredibly space efficient, and the cheapest option on this list.
Kaldi Wide Size Home Coffee Roaster
For a true artisan experience, the Kaldi home coffee roaster is the top of the line. This high-end coffee roaster can handle large batches well over half a pound to get the most even roast possible. It has a rotating cylinder, thermometer, and hopper to give you most of what you need. The major drawback is that it doesn’t have its own heating source. If you have a gas stove, then this thing is your best option for roasting your own beans. Otherwise, you can purchase a burner or get a roaster with a heat source.
Green Coffee Beans Home Coffee Roaster
This roaster is one of the simplest on the list, but it’ll get you an even, deep roast while using less electricity than the other options. This is a simple stainless steel pot over a heating element, so stirring and timing is manual. It fits about 6 ounces of green coffee beans, letting you get a few days worth of coffee in each batch. Plus, maintenance is simple, since there’s no machinery involved.
Kaldi Mini Size Home Coffee Roaster
The Kaldi Mini is a more space efficient version of its bigger brother. It fits around 7 ounces of coffee beans in its drum, and requires you to rotate it yourself. Just like the Wide model, it requires an outside heating element, so it’s really only an option if you have a gas stove. But you get to have a hands-on experience when you roast your coffee, and it takes up less space than the larger model.
Coffee Roaster Alternatives
You may be interested in roasting your own beans, but you aren’t convinced that you need a whole coffee roaster. Fortunately, you can use a variety of multi-purpose appliances that you may already own. Then, you can test out roasting to see if you’re interested in making the upgrade to a full roaster.
Victorio Nut Roaster
The Victorio Nut Roaster can easily double as a coffee roaster. Simply add up to two cups of green beans, then heat it over a stove. You can turn the crank to get an even, bold roast. Many people prefer manual roasting, since its more hands on, keeps the cost down, and is easier to store. The only thing you need to watch out for flying coffee beans, since they pop. Hot beans can fly out of the open roaster, so be careful when operating it.
West Bend 82505 Stir Crazy Electric Hot Oil Popcorn Popper
Believe it or not, this popcorn machine is completely capable of roasting your coffee beans. It’s a great, affordable, multipurpose device that lets you get hands on with your coffee. You can operate it like you would if you were making popcorn. Simply add the beans, turn it on, and wait for them to pop. You’ll want to make sure the wait for the second round of popping for a dark roast, or take it out after the first round for a medium.
Cuisinel Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet
The most affordable, space efficient way to roast your beans is on any cast iron skillet. Pre-heat the skillet on high heat, add the beans, and manually stir them. You can easily see the progress of your beans, and this no frills roasting method can still get you some of the best roasting quality. All you have to do is put in some more time and attention, and you can turn any skillet into a home coffee roaster.
Which Coffee Roaster is Right For You?
Even with everything we’ve discussed about coffee roasters, you still may be confused about which roaster is best for you. Is the quality worth the investment? How important is an even roast? Is the machine too big? These are important questions to ask, and will help you find out which of these coffee roasters is the right one.
As with any appliance, the quality of your roaster will be directly tied to the price. Sure, the cheaper options may work fine, but you’ll have a consistently even roast that comes out perfectly every time if you spring for the high end equipment. And you can make the argument that you’ll save money in the long run by springing for the high-end equipment. But if you just want to roast beans at home for fun, go with the more affordable options and manual makers, just to test the water and try something new.
Efficiency is generally tied to price, but not always. Some of the more expensive roasters aren’t much faster or don’t roast more than a cheaper manual one. The most important thing is that you have an even roast, no matter how much you’re roasting. If you don’t mind only heating up a few ounces of coffee beans at a time, then you may be better off with a hand roaster, or a cast iron skillet. If you want to get a cheaper automatic one, then consider roasting a few batches at a time. Or, if you go threw a half-pound of beans every couple days, then you should spring for the higher capacity, automatic roasters.
If you just want to have more control over your roast, or want to save money on beans, then an automatic roaster is the way to go. Of course, this is what drives up the price the fastest, but if you want to save the time on doing the roasting yourself, then you may find it worth the price. You can simply add your beans, press the “start” button, and walk away. These machines are typically faster, too. Just make sure that it doesn’t require you to stir your own beans, since that defeats the point of having an automatic machine.
You may be on a budget but really want to roast your own beans. Or you want to have the most natural coffee roasting experience possible. Either way, a manual roaster will be a cheaper, smaller, more space efficient option. Whether you get a ceramic roaster or use a skillet, there’s something special about holding the beans in your hand as they roast. When you take a sip of the final cup of joe, you’ll take pride knowing that you used your hands every step of the way.
Taking Your Coffee Roasting Into Your Own Hands
No matter what coffee roaster you go with, you’ll be enhancing your overall coffee drinking experience. By picking your own green beans, roasting them to perfection, and making your own coffee, you’re making that morning cup into a powerful part of your diet. Regardless of how expensive your roaster is, or what feature it comes with, there’s something special about roasting coffee beans yourself, so take pride in adding that much more effort to your favorite beverage.