When you take your coffee seriously, the right coffee roaster matters as much as the right coffee cup, the right coffee beans, and the right atmosphere, for those who enjoy coffee from a premium cold brew coffee maker and those who take satisfaction from watching the mocha coffee brewing process, the coffee quality is as important as its taste and the process involved in making it.

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While buying pre-roasted beans seem like a convenient option, it’s pricier and less personalized. Plus, unroasted coffee usually has a shelf life of 18 months, while pre-roasted ones lose 40% of its aroma 34 hours after grounding. These are the reasons why it’s better to buy unroasted beans and do the grinding at home.

You can grind the beans with the help of a reliable coffee roaster. But not all coffee roasters are the same. You have to know the salient features of these individual coffee roasters to know which one to get. But before that, you also need to acquaint yourself with the basics like knowing how a roaster functions, what you can benefit from it, how it works, its advantages and disadvantages, and how to use it when roasting coffee beans. Answers to these crucial questions will help identify whether or not a coffee roaster is for you.

We took the guesswork out of the equation by presenting all the essential facts you need to know. Just go through each part and gather as much relevant information as you can. Hopefully, as you reach the end of this article, you will also better understand how this piece of machinery works.

What Is a Home Coffee Roaster

A home coffee roaster is a device or a small piece of machinery you use to roast coffee. The coffee roasting process starts by getting the coffee beans treated. This is to prepare it to extract the final roasted variety properly. This is an excellent way to ensure that your daily coffee cup is only made from the freshest coffee beans.

Coffee lovers around the world agree on one thing – the best coffee is the freshest coffee. According to experts, coffee beans are best used within two to 14 days from roasting. Anything longer than this time frame would mean your coffee will de-gas and lose its flavor.

While milk frother is highly portable and convenient, it’s not as sophisticated as a roaster. On the other hand, compared to milk frothers and grinders, roasters are quite limited. However, the good thing is that the roasting process is more straightforward and only takes about two minutes. Home roasters are either manual or automatic. The former is more affordable but also has a limited capacity. On the other hand, the latter is pricier and more user-friendly and includes gas or electric devices.

Benefits of Using Home Coffee Roasters

Roasted coffee’s aroma is so enticing that it’s more than enough reason for people to love it. Whether you buy pre-roasted coffee from roasters and just brew it at home or do the roasting yourself, you will surely enjoy its to-die-for aroma. Then again, while your pre-roasted coffee may be good, it may not be as good as the one you freshly roasted and brewed at home. This is why you should seriously consider roasting one at home. Here are some of the other reasons.

Freshness

When you roast your beans, you end up with the freshest ones. Coffee beans taste the best about four to 24 hours after it’s roasted. The longer you keep it, the quicker the aroma and taste diminish. To ensure your coffee’s freshness, don’t keep it for more than three weeks before you start brewing it.

The coffee beans also lose their antioxidants a week after you roasted it and immediately after you grind it. So, if you want to keep enjoying its health benefits, make sure to use your roasted beans within three weeks after roasting. Also, remember to grind them only when you intend to brew them right away.

When you roast your coffee beans, you tend to use fresh beans. This is the only way you get the best coffee aroma and flavor. With this, you don’t have to buy roasted beans that may have been roasted a few weeks ago. Most of the time, you don’t even know when these beans were roasted.

Cost-Saving

When you buy green beans, you save more money since it costs 50% less than its roasted counterpart. Instead of buying a cup of coffee, you can save 300% of its price if you go for green beans. You get to enjoy a better-tasting and more aromatic coffee for a ridiculously low price. The fact that you store green beans for a long as 18 months or more also means a lot of savings.

Choice

When you opt to roast your own coffee, you also get to choose which coffee bean to choose from the region you like. This is not possible when you’re buying roasted beans where you only rely on the coffee roaster’s blends that are in stock. Whether you would like your beans from Colombia, Rwanda, Ethiopia, or other regions, it doesn’t matter. You’re welcome to choose from them.

Benefits of Using Home Coffee Roasters

Aside from that, you also get to decide whether you would like your roast to be dark, medium, or light. When you roast your coffee beans, you can also experiment. You can mix and match beans from different regions and create your blend. You also have more freedom in preparing your beans.

Personal Satisfaction

Nothing is more fascinating than watching your green beans turn into an aromatic cup or pot of freshly brewed coffee. When you get all the flavors and aromas that you want, you get to enjoy your coffee even more.

Tastier Coffee

As mentioned above, when you choose to roast your own coffee, you usually choose good-quality beans. After that, you roast them at a certain level you prefer. Since you are in full control, you can brew a tastier cup that you won’t be able to find anywhere else.

How Does a Home Coffee Roaster Work

Coffee roasting at home is made possible with the help of coffee roasting machines. The heating elements of a thermal coffee maker make a lot of difference in the taste of the coffee. If you want to roast indoors, take note that your machine will create a lot of smoke. When you roast, the bean’s dried skin called ‘chaff’ flies off. Green coffee will drastically change when it’s subjected to the roasting process. As you roast your coffee, its moisture is also forced out of its beans, making it dry and causing it to expand.

Remember that during the process, some of the coffee’s natural sugars convert into CO2, while others start to caramelize into flavors that make the taste of coffee complex. As soon as the process is complete, the beans will become brown or 18% lighter. It will also be 50 to 100% larger than its original size. When you’re done roasting in your coffee roaster, your coffee will begin to ‘de-gas,’ and within a week or two, it might start to lose some of its aromas and flavor.

Pros and Cons of Home Coffee Roasters

Pros

  • You get great tasting coffee every single time.
  • You can choose the blend you want for every cup.
  • You can save a lot of money because green beans cost less than pre-roasted beans and coffee from coffee shops.
  • You can also choose the green beans you’ll roast.
  • It’s convenient because you can get freshly brewed coffee anytime.

Cons

  • The best coffee roasters come in heftier price tags.
  • The coffee roasting process is complicated and tedious.
  • You need to know what green coffee beans to buy, where to get it, how to roast it, and how to cool it down.
  • You have to do everything before you can enjoy your coffee.

Types of Home Coffee Roasters

Here are the different types of home coffee roasters and a quick explanation as to what they are and how they function.

Drum Roasters

This is one of the most common devices used to roast coffee beans. As the term suggests, you use a drum specifically made for coffee roasting to satisfy the steps involved. Drum roasters usually come with a chamber that’s shaped like a cylinder. This chamber spins with the beans inside. As it turns, the coffee beans are also evenly roasted. This device uses wood, electricity, gas, or open flame to get the beans roasted on all sides.

Since the source of heat is directly facing the beans, you need to consistently turn the drum to make the beans evenly roasted. You know that the beans are roasted well if the green coffee shells turn brown. Through this, the beans are brought to their natural potent form while leaving the raw parts behind.

Air Roasters

This type of roaster uses fluidized beds to roast your coffee beans. As soon as the beans are placed inside the roasting chamber, they levitate on a scorching air bed through the chamber in a single, continuous motion. This fluid bed allows the beans to float in the vortex, roasting all sides at an air-maintained consistent temperature from start to finish.

You’ll know that the beans are roasted if you hear them pop and crack. The chaff or the bean’s outer husk gets blown off before it gets collected into the collector chamber. After that, it will settle. The cooling process in air roasters will only begin once the roaster’s desired roasting level is achieved.

Popcorn Makers

This refers to the ordinary popcorn maker you use to make delicious popcorn at home. This is very easy to use, but you need to be wary of its quick coffee roasting time. Take note that your window to get the beans out before they transition from medium roast to charcoal roast is so quick that you have to anticipate it and listen to the beans cracking. If you want to roast a lot of coffee, roast them in batches. If you’re only making a pot for yourself, four ounces of beans is enough.

How to Choose the Best Home Coffee Roaster

How to Choose the Best Home Coffee Roaster

You have lesser options when buying a coffee roaster, but this doesn’t mean that you just pick anything in sight. Here are a few of the factors you need to consider when buying your home coffee roaster.

Size and Capacity

Ask yourself if roasting coffee is just your hobby or something you want to pursue passionately. Generally, home roasters are designed to only roast small amounts of beans. However, it’s a good idea to also consider how frequently you roast coffee and the volume of coffee beans you intend to roast each time.

A small roaster usually weighs two to three kilos and often runs once to thrice a week, depending on how frequently you want to roast. However, if you want to roast bigger batches, go for five to seven-kilogram units.

Smoke Suppression

When you roast coffee, expect to see a lot of smoke, regardless of the roasting method you use. If you intend to roast outdoors, smoke shouldn’t be a problem. However, if you plan to roast in your kitchen, it’s best to choose a roaster with a built-in smoke suppression system. Though you can always decide to position your coffee roaster near your window, it’s still more convenient to have a roaster that can minimize smoke levels.

Cooling Features

The moment your coffee beans reach your desired level of roasting, they will continue to roast because of the heat built-up in the roasting chamber. Your roaster must have a built-in cooling system to help cool down the beans quickly. A vast majority of roasters simply allow cool air to blow through the roasting chamber as soon as the roasting process is complete. However, the more advanced and more expensive roasters come with an external tray where the coffee beans are dumped. This is also where these beans are cooled down.

Ease of Use

Not everyone is an expert when it comes to the art and science of coffee roasting. With this said, it’s therefore important for coffee roasters to be user-friendly. This makes the roasting experience at home easier and more pleasant. You see, roasters can either be fully automatic or fully manual. The automatic ones make roasting easier. These roasters, however, are more expensive. On the other hand, manual roasters are cost-effective and require your constant attention while it’s operating.

Coffee Grounds

This factor matters because when your coffee of choice is ground, it degasses quicker. Even when it’s sealed perfectly after leaving the roaster, it can remain fresh when it reaches your coffee cup, but it will also oxidize faster compared to whole bean coffee. The best choice is to buy whole beans and just grind them before you brew.

Durability

When you choose your coffee roaster, you plan to be able to use it for a long time, most especially when it comes with a heftier price tag. This is exactly the reason why you should care whether or not a certain coffee roaster brand and model is durable or not.

If you get to choose between something more expensive but you can use for ten or twenty years later or one that’s cheap but would have to be replaced every two years, it’s wiser to choose the former. You may pay a heavier price now, but you will surely save a lot of money in the long run.

Price

The price will always be a consideration when you make a purchase. Price should, however, be paired with durability. Again, if you have to choose between something expensive but you can use for a long time, or something cheap but needs replacing every now and then, the wiser and more cost-efficient option is the former.

If you count the number of times you have to replace your cheap roaster and multiply it to its current market price; chances are, it will be more expensive than buying an originally sturdy yet pricey one.

How to Roast Coffee at Home

How to Roast Coffee at Home

Step 1 – Green coffee

This might be the most challenging part of the whole roasting process since its availability will highly depend on where you live. You can check your area for roasters that sell unroasted green coffee beans.

Step 2 – Coffee roaster

As you already know, there are different types of home coffee roasters. Choose one that will work best for you.

Step 3 – Storage

This is important because as soon as your coffee is roasted, you’ll need a clean and conducive space for storing it. Your storage has to be airtight. But then again, no matter how airtight your container is, if you don’t use your coffee within a week after roasting, it might lose its aroma and flavor.

If you have all of these in check, it’s time to start roasting. Know that for the roasting process to be a success; you need to heat your beans between 370 degrees Fahrenheit to 540 degrees Fahrenheit. When you roast your beans, make sure that it’s constantly moved to keep it from being scorched.

How to Use a Home Coffee Roaster

Step 1 – Make sure that everything is ready

To start the roasting process, your coffee beans, coffee roaster, and storage should be readied. Prepare all these tools ahead of time to avoid hassle during the roasting process.

Step 2 – Ensure that the area is well-ventilated

As you already know, roasting means a lot of smoke. If your roasting machine has a built-in smoke suppression system, this shouldn’t be a problem. However, if it doesn’t come with a built-in smoke suppressor, make sure to open your windows or do the roasting outdoors.

Step 3 – Follow the machine’s instructions

Turn your roster on and simply follow the steps enumerated in the roaster’s user manual. Roasting machines may be similar, but they require different care and attention levels, so it’s best to rely on the manual for specific instructions.

Step 4 – Monitor the roasting process

Never leave your coffee beans while you’re roasting. While some roasters claim that it’s fully automated, roasting times may still vary depending on such variables as the machine’s age, ambient temperature, bean type, and bean size. You don’t want to scorch your beans.

Step 5 – Listen to the cracks

The first crack means that your coffee beans have a light roast. The second crack means that it has a medium roast. Continue roasting until the beans reach your preferred level of roast.

Step 6 – Let your beans cool down

You need to transfer your beans between colanders to cool them down. It’s easier if your roaster comes with a cooling tray. If not, manually cool your beans down. Do this in your sink or outside to keep the chaffs in check. Remember to wear your mittens to avoid getting burned. Give your beans 12 hours to vent CO2.

 

How to Clean a Home Coffee Roaster

Cleaning your home coffee roaster is very similar to using it. You need to refer to the user manual to know the right way of cleaning it. But for purposes of discussion, let’s set an example. For instance, you’re cleaning a drum roaster, here are some cleaning tips you might want to try.

Step 1 – Use a screwdriver to remove the metal bearing

When cleaning your home coffee roaster, you would want to thoroughly scrape the stain inside the roasting chamber to keep your coffee taste as impressive as the first time. To do this, you need to use a screwdriver to take out the metal-bearing that locks the roasting chamber. Once opened, gently pull the drum out.

Step 2 – Clean the drum

You see, cleaning the Bunn coffee machine is easy. As soon as you pull the drum out, you’ll see that the part of the chamber looks darker in color compared to the other side. You would want to clean this part to get rid of the stain and coffee rust that might affect the taste of your coffee. With the use of a rigid brush, gently scratch through the surface and grooves to remove the stains from coffee.

Check for beans that get stuck in between the groove of the drum. Use the tough brush to loosen these beans. After that, check the heating element inside the roaster and see if it’s stained or if there are chaffs that also get stuck. Clean the area with the use of the brush.

Step 3 – Put the drum back

Once you’re done cleaning, make sure to lock the bearings securely in place. If you need to clean the outer surface of your roaster, please use a sponge instead of a tough brush.

 

Does More Spending Mean More Quality

As mentioned earlier, when you choose your coffee roaster, you plan to be able to use it for a long time, most especially when it comes with a heftier price tag. This is exactly the reason why you should care whether or not a specific coffee roaster brand and model is durable or not.

If you get to choose between something more expensive but you can use for ten or twenty years later or one that’s cheap but would have to be replaced every two years, it’s wiser to choose the former. You may pay a heavier price now, but you will surely save a lot of money in the long run.

Do’s and Don’ts With a Home Coffee Roaster

Do’s

Don’ts

Quick Guide on Roast Levels

To give you an idea of what you can expect when roasting coffee beans, here are some of the primary roasting stages:

  • Green. Green is the color of coffee beans when they arrive for roasting. As you roast, this color will gradually change.
  • Yellow. Your green beans will slowly turn yellow, and this is the start of that grassy smell you’ll detect.
  • Steam. When you begin to see some steam, this only means that water is starting to evaporate from your beams. Even if your roaster has a built-in steam suppression system, you are still bound to see some steam evaporating.
  • First crack. After seeing some steam, you’ll hear your beans start to crack. The first crack usually means that your beans start to expand. This also means that the sugar from the beans also starts caramelizing. Here, your beans will turn light-medium to medium-dark and will remain dry-looking.
  • Second crack. This means your beans are roasting more and more. The second crack is also more violent-sounding than the first one, signaling that your beans are becoming seriously dark. This is also the time when you begin to see oil spots on the bean surface. Don’t wait longer as soon as you hear the second crack.
  • Burn. After the second crack, you will see the smoke turning pungent. You will also see the bean surface turn oily. This means your sugar is starting to burn. If this continues, your beans will burn, and the temperature of the roaster will be hazardous.

FAQ About Home Coffee Roasters

FAQ About Home Coffee Roasters

Do I need a coffee roaster in order to roast coffee at home?

No, you don’t need a coffee roaster to be able to roast coffee at home. There are quite a number of options when you don’t have a coffee roaster. You can use a pan or grill, oven, or popcorn popper. However, there are different steps involved when you use these alternatives.

Which type of roast has the most caffeine?

It depends on how you measure your coffee. If you measure by scoops, your light roasted coffee tends to have more caffeine since its beans are denser compared to darker roasts. If you weigh out the scoops, the darker roast has more caffeine because it has a lesser mass.

Why do roasting beans make a cracking coffee?

As mentioned above, when you roast coffee beans, you get to hear two cracks. These crackings happen because the beans expand as soon as the moisture evaporates. The said moisture forms steam. The steam becomes pressure that moves the beans to crack and open.

What type of coffee is good for roasting?

It depends because the taste is subjective. If you prefer dark and rich-flavored cowboy coffee, bypass all the rules and go for dark roasted coffee. If you want a balanced coffee with such elements as acidity, berry, fruit, citrus, and a plethora of other flavors, go for medium roasted coffee. However, if you want extreme tasting coffee, light roast from Hawaii, Sumatra, Kenya, Ethiopia, and Central America are the best. The tastes of these types of coffee vary from earthy to buttery and wildly lemony.

How soon after roasting can I drink coffee?

Longer and darker roasts tend to degas compared to lighter roasts rapidly. However, storage containers, humidity, ambient temperature, and other factors play crucial roles as well. Roaster and coffee enthusiasts will tell you to give it three days to one week after roasting to enjoy your coffee.

How long do roasted coffee beans last?

Unroasted coffee usually has a shelf life of 18 months, while pre-roasted ones lose 40% of its aroma after 34 hours after grounding.

Conclusion

With all that has been said, let’s go back to the question as to whether or not it’s wise to roast your coffee at home. If it’s up to us, the answer would be a big, fat, resounding yes. Aside from being a rewarding and fun experience, it’s the only way you can get the tastiest and freshest coffee beans while also making sure that you get to drink your choice of roast each time.

Without any barriers, you can start roasting whatever you have or make small purchases to get you started. You can also start thinking about a car coffee maker to take on your travels. And since you already know how to roast your beans at home, you can start drinking the best tasting and fine smelling coffee every single time. You can even try mixing different coffee cocktails!

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