Roasting your own coffee beans is the next level in making great coffee at home. Of course, to do this, you’ll need the best home coffee bean roaster you can get your hands on.
In this article, we will take a look at roasting coffee beans at home to enjoy freshly roasted coffee. And when I say fresh, I mean FRESH. You can’t get coffee any fresher than when you roast it at home.
This article is mainly geared towards people that are new to roasting coffee beans at home.
Besides the process, the main focus of this article is to review the best home coffee roasting machines on the market.
Are you in a hurry? Let me you the final verdict upfront: my top pick for best home coffee bean roaster.
Why would you roast coffee beans at home?
Roasting coffee beans at home is all about stepping up your game. You have the proper gear to make your favorite types of coffee, you have mastered the skills needed to make barista-quality coffee, and now you want to go one step further.
That next step must be focused on the coffee bean. You could (and should!) try to get your hands on the highest quality roasted coffee beans. And you should try many different varieties. At some point, you are going to want to try different levels of roasting on the same variety of coffee beans or the blending of different varieties.
At that point, you are depending on the roaster you get your coffee beans from. If you are lucky enough to have a local artisanal coffee, you could try to ask them to try out new varieties or combinations. But you might not have a lot of success.
If you are anything like me, you’d like a bit more control. You want to try it for yourself. Choose your own varieties and blends. Enter the home coffee bean roaster.
Another reason to start roasting coffee at home is when you don’t have a good local coffee roaster. If you want to enjoy the freshest coffee beans possible, you need to go and get them at the source. But, if you live in an area where there are no good coffee roasters (I feel for you!), you might need to start roasting them yourself.
Finally, a reason I can very much adhere to. I am the kind of person who has a natural interest in how (food and drinks related) stuff is made. It lead me to make my own bread, into fermentation (I make my own pickles and Kimchi), beer making, and of course, coffee roasting.
Learning how to roast your own coffee is a fantastic journey and is very satisfactory.
So, that’s why you should roast your own coffee beans at home.
How to roast coffee beans at home?
Roasting coffee beans at home is an enjoyable and satisfying process. There are a lot of variables and a lot of things to keep in mind. In this article, we’ll take a look at the most common questions about roasting coffee.
If you like to know more about the home roasting process, please take a look at pour in-depth exploration of roasting coffee at home.
The most common questions about roasting coffee beans (FAQs)
What is degassing coffee beans?
Degassing is the release of gases from roasted coffee beans. When coffee beans are roasted, gasses for due to the heat that is applied. Most of these gasses are carbon dioxide.
A lot of these gases dissipate in the first few days after the coffee has been roasted. They are released in the first few days after roasting.
Why do you need to degas roasted coffee beans?
Gasses in ground coffee are released when water is applied. This results in small bubbles during the brewing process. These bubbles can form air pockets between the coffee grounds, and with some brew methods, this can affect the taste.
This is especially the case when brewing espresso. To brew a good espresso, you need to have a tightly packed puck of coffee ground to force water through. Air pockets (due to releasing gasses or improper tamping) can result in an uneven extraction of flavors and aromas.
This is less a problem with, for instance, pour-over coffee. With pour-over coffee, you allow the coffee to ‘bloom’ by adding a little water to the grounds and waiting about thirty seconds. This allows most trapped gasses to dissipate.
To summarize: degassing is necessary to allow trapped gasses in roasted coffee beans to escape. Trapped gasses can form air bubbles during the brewing process, which can negatively influence taste.
How long do coffee beans need to degas?
The amount of time that freshly roasted coffee beans need to degas to lose most of the trapped gasses varies between the origins of the coffee bean and the roast level. But a good rule of thumb is 24 hours, at least.
But again, trapped gasses in coffee beans are really only a problem when you make espresso.
When can I drink coffee after roasting?
Degassing is only one reason to wait a bit before you use your freshly roasted coffee. After roasting, a coffee bean needs about 24 hours to ‘rest.’ In this time, it develops its body and full flavor.
Really dark espresso roasts take even longer to mature. Some roasters advise to wait for 5 days before using an espresso roast.
How long do roasted coffee beans last?
Roasted coffee beans don’t go ‘bad’ for a long time. They do lose flavor rather quickly. Roasted coffee beans are at their peak quality up to 10 days after they have been roasted. Most specialty coffee roasters advise therefore advise to use the coffee beans within two weeks.
Form my own experience, and from talking to a lot of baristas, I can say that quality coffee beans are fine to use up to 8 weeks after roasting. Be aware that 8 weeks is, in my opinion, the absolute maximum.
I would advise you to buy or roast the amount of beans you can use in two weeks. If you buy the amount you use every two weeks, you’re assured of fresh beans at all times.
The two types of home coffee bean roasters: drum coffee bean roasters vs. air coffee bean roasters
There are two basic methods of roasting coffee, and therefore there are also two types of home coffee roasting machines. In commercial coffee bean roasting, the most commonly used drum roasting. Air roasting (sometimes called fluid bed roasting) is used only in home roasting.
Why is air roasting only used by home roasters? That is best explained by explaining how an air coffee bean roaster works. These devices produce a stream of hot air to roast the coffee beans. It works kind of like a very powerful hairdryer. Hot air is blown in the roasting chamber at considerable force, and the beans are propelled in a swirl of hot air. The heat combined with the motion ensures that the coffee beans are roasted evenly.
This technology is, at this point, only usable when roasting really small batches of coffee beans. Roasting coffee at a commercial scale requires larger quantities only a drum coffee bean roaster can accommodate.
Drum roasters use indirect heat to roast the coffee beans. The green coffee beans sit in a rotating drum, and heat is applied to the drum while it spins. Drum roasting has an air (pun intended) of romance and nostalgia. It has an old-world, artisanal feel to it.
But the bottom line is, they both roast coffee beans. That is not to say there are no differences between the two. Some people find that beans from air roasters produce coffee with higher acidity and a fresher mouthfeel. Coffee beans that have been drum roasted, on the other hand, are said to have more body.
And while those differences may be real, in my opinion, one thing is far more important to realize:
Whether you are getting a good quality drum roaster or a good quality air roaster, the quality of your coffee will drastically improve when you roast your own coffee beans at home.
I.e., freshness trumps roasting method.
How to Pick the best home Coffee bean Roaster
The purchase of a home coffee bean roaster is worth some consideration. It is possible to start out with a really simple, old-school set-up. But if you venture into the territory of the real coffee bean roasting machines, you will have to put down several hundreds of US dollars, at least.
So, let me give you a few pieces of advice:
A popcorn maker is not for roasting coffee beans
A popcorn maker is designed to drive hot air into a heap of corn kernels. Corn is not picky about heat. When hot enough, they pop, and you have popcorn. Coffee beans require far more consistency and control. A popcorn maker will be unable to roast the coffee beans evenly. You will end up with some over-roasted beans and a few that are under-roasted.
Inconsistently roasted coffee will not make a good cup of coffee. You should be looking for a machine that can roast a batch of green coffee beans evenly. And that requires motion. A popcorn popper can’t keep the beans moving, so it won’t do a good job.
Therefore, I repeat: a popcorn popper is not suitable for roasting coffee beans.
Pick a coffee roaster of the right size
Home coffee roasters come in a few sizes. It is vital to make up your mind about how much you want to be roasting and how much coffee you consume. If you only have time to roast on weekends, you might want to opt for a larger coffee bean roaster. This allows you to roast all the coffee beans you need in a week in one or two batches.
This decision might determinate whether you are picking an air roaster or a drum roaster. So, think about it. It is an important consideration.
Decide on the amount of control you want
The question here is: what kind of coffee roaster do you want to be? Are you in it for the freshness and the quality of the coffee you drink at home? Or are you also in it for the hobby?
For the first kind of coffee roaster, I would recommend a set it and forget it coffee roaster. Pop in your beans, adjust the settings and pop some beans. Ease of use is more important than the ability to control all factors of the roasting process.
Are you looking for a set it and forget it coffee bean roaster? I would recommend this one.
When you are in it for the hobby, you want total control. You learn about the intricacies of the roasting process, the alchemy of it. You experiment, you fail, you try again, and you learn. Let me tell you, roasting coffee beans can become a pretty involved process. An enjoyable involved process, sure, but it can burn (pun intended) a lot of time!
Are you looking for a coffee bean roaster that can become the center point of your new hobby? I.e., do you want total control? I would recommend this one.
Cooling beans is just as important as roasting them
At some point in the roasting process, the optimal roast is achieved. At that point, you need to remove most of the heat immediately. Otherwise, the coffee beans will continue to ‘cook.’
The question of how to cool is, therefore, a fundamental one to answer. Most home coffee roasters (especially air roasters) will simply start blowing cold air into the chamber with the beans. Others apply a more traditional method of cooling: dumping the roaster coffee beans out of the roasting chamber. Old-school but very efficient. And unfortunately only available on the most expensive drum roasters.
The best home coffee bean roasters on the market:
Now, let’s take a look at what home coffee bean roasters are available. There are both hot air and drum coffee bean roasters on the list. But they are all excellent. We made sure only to include the best models that are widely available.
We’ll start with a short overview of our favorite models:
- Fresh Roast SR540 hot air coffee roasting machine
- Gene Café CBR-101 home coffee roaster
- Kaldi home coffee roaster
- Nuvo Eco stovetop home coffee roaster
Each on of these has it merits. So, let’s take a look.
Fresh Roast SR540 – Hot Air – Home Coffee Bean Roaster
The Fresh Roast home coffee roaster is an excellent convection (or hot air) coffee bean roaster. It is also the only roaster that uses hot air to roast the beans. That’s because this is really the only one that is up to standards and is widely available.
An added bonus is that this is a beginner-friendly home coffee bean roaster. It is compact, quiet, and very reasonably priced.
The Fresh Roast is easy to use, even if you are a beginner. It has a system that lets you adjust the temperature, fan speed, and roasting time. It also has a fan that is powerful enough to cool the beans when the optimal roast level is achieved.
Although I think this is your best option if you are looking for a quality home coffee bean roaster for a reasonable price, it is not without its flaws.
This roaster will allow you to roast 4oz or 120 grams of green coffee beans per batch. That’s probably not enough to get you through a week of drinking java. You’ll need to make several batches if you want to roast enough coffee beans for more than a few days.
Also, some users report that although you have a whole range of temperature and fan speed settings, only the highest settings are high enough to actually roast the beans and to move the beans in the roasting chamber.
That said, at this price point, you can’t expect wonders. The Fresh Roast SR540 is a great way to dip your toes into home coffee bean roasting. You can roast different varieties and experiment a little with roast levels. If you want full control and want to be able to really experiment, this probably isn’t the home coffee roaster for you.
pros and cons of the fresh roast SR540
According to Monsieur Coffee, the Fresh Roast SR540 is the Best hands-off beginner home coffee bean roaster.
Gene Café CBR-101 Home Coffee Bean Roaster
The Gene Cafe CBR-101 has become one of the leading models in the home coffee roasters market. It has almost double the capacity of the Fresh Roast SR540. It can roast about a half-pound or 250 grams of green coffee beans per batch.
The build quality of the Gene Café is excellent and, compared to other roasters, shows the signs of ingenious engineering. And it looks good, but that’s a matter of taste.
One of the most eye-catching features of this coffee bean roaster is the off-axis drum rotation set-up. This results in a very even roast on your coffee beans.
The Gene Café has two types of controls: temperature and time. You can adjust both controls at any time during the roasting process to give you maximum control. The control knobs are ergonomically placed and have a solid feel to them. The device sports a very helpful temperature display so you can keep an eye on your roast. Unfortunately, there is no way to save a roast profile (i.e., a time and temperature scheme for a roast. Like a roasting recipe).
The Gene Café has a large chaff collector that works really well. An essential feature for a coffee roaster.
Maintenance and cleaning of the device is pretty straightforward. Disassembly of the roast chamber and separator is very doable, and they are easily cleaned with soap and hot water (remember to rinse and dry thoroughly, though). There are no nooks and crannies on the inside, which could potentially catch gunk, so no need for additional cleaning.
The chaff collector is also easily cleaned by removing the cap and pouring the chaff out. You can always put your vacuum cleaner on it to remove any stubborn chaff.
A very attractive feature of the Gene Café is the fact that you can see the roasting process through the transparent walls of the roasting chamber. Looking at the change of color in the coffee beans is one of the most important ways to control the roast. So, being able to see the roasting process is a huge advantage.
The Gene Café is not without its shortcomings, though.
For one, although this is by no means a loud roaster, it can be challenging to hear the first and second crack during the roasting process. The whine of the motor and the sound of the beans being rotated in the drum mask the sounds of this important indicator. Some users report that listening closely to the exhaust of the chaff collector can help. But you need to be careful because of the heat the device produces.
Second, the cooling process takes quite a long time. And when the cooling process of the machine is done, your roasted coffee beans might not be as cool as you’d like. My advice is to run the cool down program on the device and then to pour the coffee beans onto a large tray or clean baking sheet to cool further.
The roast quality the Gene Café produces is excellent. From delicate medium roasts, French roasts, to a darker roast. You can really control your end results.
If you are willing to pay the price (it costs about three times the amount the Fresh Roast SR540), this is a fantastic machine.
Pros And Cons Of The Gene Café CBR-101
The bottom line: the Gene Café is a machine that is enjoyable to use and produces excellent quality roasted coffee beans. All this goodness comes at a price you have to be willing to pay. If you are, then you will not be disappointed.
Monsieur Coffee’s verdict is: the Gene Café is: The best feature-rich coffee bean roaster.
KALDI Home Coffee Bean Roaster
The Kaldi Home Coffee Roaster is the workhorse among the home coffee roasters on this list The build quality on this machine is excellent, and it is straightforward to use. The Kaldi is by no means the cheapest machine on this list, though. You could consider this a scaled-down professional coffee bean roaster. It is smaller, but by no means of lesser quality than the coffee roasters used by the professionals.
Furthermore, it is easy to take apart for cleaning and quickly put together when you are done. All controls are manual and allow you to dial in the perfect temperature (which will takes some practice!)
Kaldi offers three models of this semi-professional home coffee roaster. The two standard versions have a 200-gram hopper capacity and are either manually operated or motorized. Motorized means that a little electric motor is attached to the drum, which turns the drum. A pretty handy option, at a price. The “extra-wide” version, as Kaldi calls it, is fully motorized and has a drum capacity of 300 grams. Obviously, this is the most expensive model.
An overview of available models:
- A manual, 200-gram capacity version
- A fully motorized, 200-gram capacity version
- A fully motorized, 300-gram capacity version
Be aware that these roasters do not include a heat source. The most used heat source for this kind of home coffee roasters is a simple gas burner. I like this one.
And while we are talking about necessary accessories: let’s talk gloves. This machine gets hot. Even though the handles are made of wood, they still get hot. I wouldn’t recommend operating it without a good pair of heat resistant gloves. I like these ones. They might seem like overkill, but they are awesome, and I like my hands not burned.
Operating the Kaldi home coffee roaster
The Kaldi is an analog machine. No presets, no setting the temperature to the degree, no automatic cool down. You apply heat to the drum, turn the drum, listen, and smell. This machine allows for the full artisan experience.
That does mean that there is a bit of a learning curve. Learning how to operate is a matter of trial and error. It also means that this is a machine that is very easy to operate, and with some commitment, you will be able to dial in your perfect roast. The best thing about this machine is, while you become a more seasoned roaster, your roasts become better,
Even a professional coffee roaster wouldn’t find this machine limiting. Okay, maybe only in size.
This video gives a demonstration of the Kaldi Home Coffee Roaster:
In my experience, I did find that the analog thermometer is a bit slow to react to temperature changes. If you want to be precise and instant with your temperature measurements, you might want to consider fitting a digital thermometer. Or, do as I did, buy a handheld infrared thermometer.
This roaster will appeal to anyone who really wants to get into the roasting of coffee beans at home. You can adjust your roast endlessly and develop their own unique roast profile.
At the risk of repeating myself too much: this roaster is beautifully built. It has a distinctly industrial look due to the stainless steel body with real wood details on the handles. No plastic! With this baby on your countertop, you will look like a professional.
Pros And Cons Of The Kaldi Home Coffee Bean Roaster
f you are interested in a device that will last you a lifetime and are into fully manual roasting. Then I’d highly recommend this home coffee bean roaster. Easy to operate while allowing you to experiment infinitely.
Monsieur Coffee’s verdict is: the Kaldi Home Coffee Roaster is the best premium home coffee bean roaster and the best option for the serious home coffee roaster.
Nuvo Eco Stovetop Home Coffee Bean Roaster
Every other home coffee roaster on this list is a bit of an investment. I completely understand that you might be put off by this. If you lack the funds for an expensive home coffee roasting machine, the Novo Eco might be just the thing.
It doesn’t get any more simple than this. A ceramic vessel with a hollow, cowhide handle. This is an old school home coffee roasting. But it works! No timers, no temperature control, no electronics. Just you, shaking the vessel over a heat source, waiting for the crack of the beans.
Yes, this is a more labor-intensive way to roast your coffee beans. But it is perfect for the beginner. In fact, I would suggest to anyone serious about home coffee roasting to start with a Nuvo Eco. You will learn a lot about roasting coffee by using this little vessel. You’ll learn to listen and smell. You’ll learn how applying more or less heat during a longer or shorter time affects your final roast. Because you roast in small batches (maximum 70 grams) and need to be hands-on all the time, you will notice every little change.
Operating the Nuvo Eco
Roasting coffee with the Nuvo Eco is as straightforward as it gets:
- Put a maximum of 70 grams of green beans in the vessel
- Hold it over a heat source.
- Shake the beans in a figure 8 for an even roast.
- Listen for the crack and pour the coffee beans out through the handle when done.
Pros And Cons Of The Kaldi Home Coffee Bean Roaster
Monsieur Coffee’s verdict is: the Nuvo Eco is the best home coffee roaster for beginners and people on a tight budget.
Conclusion: What is the best roaster for roasting coffee beans at home?
As always, the best for anyone is a difficult verdict to give. For home coffee roasting machines, it is clear that there is no such thing. To summarize what we have seen:
The best hot air home coffee bean roaster: the FreshRoast SR540.
The best feature-rich coffee bean roaster: the Gene Café CBR-101.
The best home coffee bean roaster for people who like to be artisanal coffee bean roasters: the Kaldi.
The best budget and beginner (great combo!) home coffee bean roaster: the Nuvo Eco stovetop coffee bean roaster.
The takeaway from this for me is that home coffee roasting is totally worth it. It is fun, and you’ll end up with better coffee than you can get at most places (except maybe at your local artisanal coffee roaster). At you can do it even if you are on a budget.
I hope to see you soon, here at monsieurcoffee.com
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