Best Home Coffee Roasters - Step Up Your Coffee Game
If you're considering a coffee bean roaster, you've come along way in your journey as a coffee connoisseur. You have probably experienced the benefits of grinding your own coffee and experimented with different brewing methods, settling on a few favorites.
But roasting your own beans? Isn't that something best left to independent roasters with plenty of time and money? Actually, roasting your own beans could be easier than you think. And it just might change your coffee-drinking experience forever. Read on to find out what you need to know about roasting coffee beans.
Top Rated Home Coffee Roasters
|Coffee Roaster Model||Capacity||Price|
Behmor 5400 1600 Plus
Nuvo Eco Ceramic Handy Roaster
Why Roast Your Own Coffee Beans?
Aside from just being the next step in your quest for the perfect cup, roasting your own beans brings a lot to the table.
By this point, you know the value of beans that are freshly roasted, protected from air, and freshly ground. If you're still buying pre-ground coffee, hoping to protect the quality of your cup by folding down the bag, then you probably aren't ready for roasting your own beans.
But if you treasure the aroma that flows from your grinder as you begin your morning ritual, then roasting beans at home can be a great way to add a new level of freshness to your brew.
The typical shelf life of a roast is a few weeks but, generally speaking, the sooner you can brew, the better. By roasting your own coffee, you know exactly how long it's been since the roast, and you can decide how much coffee you need for a given week.
You likely know your general coffee preferences at this point. You might crave a bold, dark roast or prefer the subtle tones of a light roast. Regardless of your tastes, however, you can find the ideal roast for your palette if you roast your own beans.
If you find your typical French roast just a touch too dark, you can roast your own beans to dial it back just a notch. You can experiment with new varieties of green coffee. And you can control exactly where your coffee comes from.
Buying premium coffee comes with a premium price. That extra quality is usually worth it, but it can also start to stretch the coffee budget. Once you find a decent place to buy green beans (either a local roaster or an online source), you can start roasting amazing coffee for half the cost.
No, roasting your own coffee doesn't sound convenient at first. But the process itself is actually straightforward and doesn't take a lot of time. And since you can store green coffee beans for up to a year, you won't need to constantly replenish your supply of coffee. You won't have to run out to the store every week to get the freshest roast you can find.
What to Know Before You Roast
Here are a few general considerations to keep in mind when you dive into coffee roasting.
Types of Roasters
The type of roaster you choose will make a big difference in your experience. You can find information on putting together some type of DIY setup that will allow you to roast beans on the cheap, but you might find that the headache is more trouble than the cost savings.
Assuming you're not running a roasting business (which is a completely different setup), you'll generally find roasters that range from entirely hands-on to nearly automatic.
The more manual versions require you to crank or otherwise move the beans around to make sure they are evenly heated.
The more automatic machines might have rotating canisters and built in thermometers that do all the work for you.
And you'll also find the more common air roasters. These work on similar principles as popcorn poppers, heating the beans with flowing hot air.
Cooling and Storing Your Beans
After you have roasted the coffee to your desired level, you'll need to cool and store the beans.
Some roasters have a cooling cycle or place to store beans while they cool. If yours doesn't, you can just cool them in a metal collander, stirring them until warm. Then keep them in a bowl until they are completely cool.
At that point, you might be tempted to seal up your fresh beans to preserve their flavor and aromatics. Don't. Coffee that is freshly roasted releases carbon dioxide for up to 24 hours after roasting, meaning that a sealed container will start to build up pressure.
Instead, let your coffee "breathe" for between 8-24 hours before sealing it tightly to keep out oxygen. You can also consider a storage container designed to let carbon dioxide out without allowing oxygen in.
How to Choose Your Coffee Bean Roaster
So, now that you're ready to invest in a coffee roaster, what should you look for?
Only you know how much coffee you drink. You'll want to think about your weekly intake when looking at roasters. Since freshness starts to take a dive after just a week, you'll probably want to roast enough coffee to last half a week to two weeks.
If you have a family of coffee drinkers who consume two pounds per week, then, you might get frustrated with a machine that roasts less than four ounces at a time.
Of course, if the setup is super-convenient, you might enjoy roasting multiple times per week.
How much time do you want to spend watching your coffee roast? Are you okay with stirring it the entire time?
Some of the best coffee roasters allow you to preset your desired roast, add your beans and let it go. There isn't a true "set it and forget it" option out there, but some roasters take a little more care than others.
Not size this time. Now we're talking about how loud the thing is. This is mostly a problem with air roasters because some of them can sound like you're running a vacuum in the kitchen. This is particularly important when you're listening for the 1st or 2nd crack to know when you're coffee is roasted how you want it.
Remember that you're cooking these beans. And while the final product will provide a saliva-inducing aroma, the cooking process will not. Instead, it will produce smoke that can leave your kitchen (and your hair and your clothes), with an unpleasant burnt smell.
If possible, find a roaster that deals with this issue in some way. Some have smoke suppressing technology that can prevent your kitchen from smelling like a chimney.
While this is not an issue for most folks looking to roast coffee, it is important for the few who really need fresh coffee on the road or on the campground.
If that's you, look for a manual roaster that allows you to cook beans on an open heat source. Just remember that you'll need to let them cool and breathe before roasting.
Best Home Coffee Roasters
Behmor 5400 1600 Plus Customizable Drum Coffee Roaster
If you're looking to roast a decent amount of coffee without a lot of fussing, the Behmor 1600 Plus is a great buy. It is a drum roaster that has a small profile on the kitchen counter.
You can load an entire sixteen ounces into the Behmor, which could be just want you need to get through the week. That way, you won't feel like roasting has become a part-time job.
The plus has multiple roasting profile modes that allow you to customize your experience, from a light, first crack to a dark full city. You'll want to keep an eye on the roast, though, and figure out which preset works for you.
You'll probably want to start with small batches (four ounces) to get a feel for different modes and the roast profiles they produce.
The Behmore has a cooling cycle, which is convenient. You might want to open the door to speed the cooling process, especially if you are going for a dark roast and don't want to overcook the beans.
And because of the drum setup, the chaff conveniently falls to the bottom and is easy to clean up (by blowing or brushing it out).
The smoke suppression technology works well, but don't expect it to be "smokeless." Instead, use it near a vent hood to prevent a stinky kitchen.
This roaster is probably large enough for light business use in a small coffee shop. But it also works great for the serious home roaster.
FreshRoast SR500 Automatic Coffee Bean Roaster
If you want to invest less in your roaster but are willing to put in a little more effort, the FreshRoast SR500 could be your solution. As a fluid bed air roaster, this machine is easy to use.
It's similar to air-popping popcorn, but the unit is specifically designed for roasting coffee. One of its main benefits is the adjustable controls.
You can change the fan speed, timer, and temperature before and during the roast. That gives you the ability to make adjustments on the fly.
This is not a roaster you'll want to leave to its own devices though. You should give yourself a solid 10-15 minutes to keep an eye on the roast.If you don't use a high fan setting, you'll also need to stir the beans manually to prevent uneven heating.
And once they're done, the cooling cycle should help bring the temperature down. Or, you can just get the beans into a colander as explained above.
You can roast just four ounces at a time, so you might not want the FreshRoast SR500 for heavy use. But since a roast takes so little time, it isn't that inconvenient to do multiple roasts per week.
Nesco CR-1010-PR Coffee Bean Roaster, Black
While it looks like a cross between a stand mixer and a blender, the Nesco CR-1010-PR is actually an easy to use coffee bean roast that can turn your beans from green to roasted in around 30 minutes. If you're looking for a simple entry into coffee roasting, the Nesco could be the machine for you.
After an initial cleaning, the setup is ready to go. Just plug it in, add your beans, enter your roasting time, and press start. The machine will do all the work, but you'll want to be nearby to check the roasting progress.
Because the air roaster is somewhat loud, you might not be able to hear the telltale cracking to know what stage your roast is in. Instead, you'll have to keep an eye on the color of the beans. Once it looks the right shade of brown, you can press the COOL button, regardless of what time you initially set.
After a five minute cooling cycle, you can let them cool in the roaster or pour them out to speed up the process. And with a chaff catch, you can easily clean up for the next roast.
The Nesco only roasts around four ounces per cycle. With a darker roast taking upward of 35 minutes, it might not be the best for you if you need to roast lots of coffee each week. The nice thing is that it looks attractive on the counter, so you won't mind leaving it out if you have the space.
And with the catalytic converter, the smoke smell shouldn't be overpowering. Although, using a vent or open window is usually best.
Nuvo Eco Ceramic Handy Coffee Bean Roaster
For the adventure seeker who doesn't want to sacrifice fresh coffee, or for folks who just appreciate simplicity, the Nuvo Ceramic Roaster delivers a one-of-a-kind roasting experience.
The roaster is a testament to minimalism with its ceramic bowl and cowhide handle. Because of its insulating qualities, ceramic is a great material for roasting. And the cowhide protects you from burns.
The operation is simple if not "easy." After pouring beans into the roaster, you'll need to swirl the bowl over an open flame. The waffle interior helps heat the beans evenly, but the swishing is essential.
If you find yourself growing tired after a few minutes, just focus on the pleasant sound of green coffee beans swirling in the roaster. That will soon be replaced with the sound of cracking as the beans are heated through their various roasting profiles.
When you hit your desired roast, just pour the beans out to cool.
This truly is manual operation, with no timers, chaffing collection, or cooling cycles. But for a campfire or open grill, it's a great option for freshly roasted coffee. Since there is no smoke suppression, you probably want to keep the operation outside anyway unless you have a powerful vent or lots of fresh air coming into the kitchen.
Many coffee drinkers are intimidated by the roasting process. They see massive units used to roast on a commercial level and think that home roasting is just out of reach. Fortunately for you, that means you can impress even your pickiest coffee-loving friends by roasting your own beans.
Begin with one of these introductory coffee bean roasters, and you'll have your signature roast going with just a little trial and error. And who knows? You might even decide to move up to that commercial roaster at some point.