The Best Home Coffee roasters 2020

Becoming a home roaster is a great option if you have mastered your brewing skills and you are ready for the next step. Investing in a home roaster allows a greater level of regulation over your brew, you are literally in control from bean to brew! And not only can this hobby increase your love and knowledge of coffee, but it is able to save you hundreds of dollars a year!

In this article, we will first give you the rundown on why and how to roast coffee beans at home, before reviewing five of the best home coffee bean roasters and giving our recommendation. If you are pushed for time feel free to jump down to the actual reviews.

Our pick: Behmor Drum Roaster

If you’re pushed for time our recommendation is that the Behmor Drum Roaster is the single best home coffee roaster. While it is not the cheapest, it is reliable, highly customisable, and does a great job of roasting beans!

Why Roast Coffee at Home?

Roasting coffee beans at home can be the next step in the journey to brew the perfect cup. The advantages are basically control and cost. Investing in a home coffee roaster allows you to create your own blends of coffee to perfectly suit your palate. And perhaps even more significantly, green beans are at least half the price of roasted beans. So if you are an avid coffee fan you can save hundreds of dollars a year while perfecting the art of the brew! And let’s be honest, the idea of roasting your own coffee beans and filling your house with the rich aroma of coffee isn’t a bad incentive either! Roasting at home can be done either through a roasting machine or even with appliances you probably already have in your kitchen! See our article here for a detailed guide of how to roast coffee at home.

Stages of Roasting Coffee

Stage 1- Drying
A coffee bean is made up of about 8-12% water content. In this first stage it may look like nothing is happening but the bean is warming up and the water starts to evaporate.

Stage 2- Browning
Once the beans have dried out they begin to brown (this usually happens around 150C/ 302F). The coffee bean begins to expand and it sheds its thin skin (the chaff). At the end of this stage you begin to hear the first crack. This occurs when the pressure inside the bean (from the build up of gases) is released. It sounds similar to popcorn popping. Light roasted coffee is usually stopped at or just after the first crack. These beans are a dark tan color and typically have a bright acidity, hints of fruit, a light body and lack of bitterness. Origin flavors are more pronounced in a light roast, so if you are using single origin beans this is a great roast level to aim for.

Stage 3- Development
This is where the art of roasting comes in as the roaster determines how long to subject the coffee bean to heat. During this stage the complex flavors start to develop; the acidity and sweetness of the bean decreases as the sugars and acids inside are caramelized. This will result in a medium roasted coffee. These beans are a light brown color and typically have a more balanced, sweeter taste with a hint of bitterness. They still have their unique flavors resulting from the origin but these are toned down and smoothed out.
At the end of this development stage you hear the second crack as the structure of the bean begins to break down and its oils are released. They become darker and oils appear on the surface. This will result in a dark roasted coffee. These beans are a dark brown color with an oily sheen and typically have a low acidity and high level of bitterness. The flavor characteristics of their origin are far less pronounced at this stage.

Roasting coffee beans

What to Look for in a Home Coffee Roaster?

Type
There are basically 2 types of home coffee roaster machines you can buy:

  • Drum Roasters: This is the most common commercial method and involves roasting beans via indirect heat. Heat is applied to a spinning drum and the beans roast when coming into contact with the drum. These machines often have a larger roasting capacity than air roasters.
  • Air Roasters: This is the most common method for domestic roasters. These machines work in a similar manner to the popcorn maker and use direct heat to roast beans. Hot air is forced through a chamber containing the beans and they are roasted.

Capacity
Think about how much coffee you need and how often you want to be roasting a batch. Generally air roasters are only able to roast small batches whereas drum roasters have larger chambers to cater to a bigger batch.

Control
How involved do you want to be in the roasting process. Do you want to just flip the switch and leave it running? Or are you more inclined to tweak different variables for a more unique roast? In general the higher end machines have more programmability and allow you create and save roast profiles for increased consistency.

Cooling
This stage is almost as important as heating. You need the beans to cool down quickly or they will continue to roast. Most home roasters blow cool air through the roasting chamber to do this.

Ease of cleaning
Roasting can be messy as chaff and smoke are released. Ideally a machine will have a chaff collection system for easy clean up and also smoke suppression systems so they can be used indoors.

Noise/ visibility levels
If you are wanting to make an art out of roasting you may want to look for a quieter machine so you can hear the first and second cracks and know exactly what stage your roast is at. Similarly you may want to opt for a machine that allows you to see the beans easily.

Best Home Coffee Roasters 2020


Behmor Drum Roaster

This coffee roaster is all about consistency and a high quality of roast. The Behmor plus is a great drum roaster capable of roasting up to 1 pound of beans per batch. It has 5 customizable roast profile settings and the ability to manually alter the temperature and drum speed. The machine features a smoke suppression system, cooling cycle and easy chaff removal for quick clean up. This machine allows more control than your average home coffee roaster making it ideal for the coffee aficionado wanting to tweak each batch.

Pros:

  • Quiet when in use
  • Able to roast 1lb of coffee beans
  • Able to produce evenly roasted beans
  • Has a light to increase visibility of beans

Cons:

  • Large size
  • Safety feature cuts machine at 75% so cannot leave roaster unattended
  • Still produces a lot of smoke
  • On the more expensive end

Kaldi Coffee Roaster

The Kaldi roaster is a Korean made drum roaster. The machine requires a separate gas burner to use as a heat source. It sits on top of the gas burner and once warmed up you pour your coffee beans through a funnel at the top. There is a temperature probe inserted into the rotating beans so you can gauge the bean temperature. It also has a sampler for you to see what stage the beans are at. This coffee bean roaster allows you to control the temperature and thus the roast time. It produces very high quality roasts and is ideal for the hipster wanting to master the art of roasting.

Pros:

  • Large capacity, up to 8oz of beans
  • Quiet machine, able to hear first and second cracks
  • Sampler to see what stage beans are at
  • Well made, sturdy
  • Produces even roasts

Cons:

  • Gas burner required
  • Poor chaff collection, can be messy to clean up
  • Machine gets very hot
  • Low quality thermometer included – better to buy a digital one
  • No smoke collection- roast in area with good ventilation
  • Large machine

Nuvo Coffee Roaster

The nuvo roaster is a korean-made hand roaster. You put your green beans in the chamber and hold it over a gas or electric stovetop. Once it heats up you shake it, listening for the first crack and when the beans reach the desired point you empty them through the hollow handle. A medium roast generally takes around 10-12 minutes. This is a simple and affordable roaster and would be a great step up from using a frypan or popcorn maker.

Pros:

  • Roasts small batches well
  • No noise
  • Portable, good for camping
  • Easy to clean- just wipe out with a cloth once cool
  • Affordable

Cons:

  • Small capacity, only able to roast 2.5 oz at a time
  • Hot beans can fly out of handle causing a potential hazard
  • Completely manual: no temperature settings, cool-down programs or smoke suppression

Fresh Roast

The Freshroast is an air roaster that is very simple to use. It has 3 different temperature settings and variable fan speed. You can also slightly alter the time it takes to roast allowing you to have some measure of control over your roast. It is capable of roasting up to 4oz of beans per batch. The machine itself is very compact and pretty quiet when in use, however due to the smell omitted when roasting it is recommended to use the machine outside or in a well ventilated area. This is an ideal machine for beginners as it is easy to use yet allows for some customization.

Pros:

  • Compact size
  • Easy to use and clean
  • Cooling cycle and chaff collection systems
  • Affordable
  • Good visibility of beans during roasting

Cons:

  • Only roasts a small amount of beans
  • Some report fan not strong enough to move beans adequately at the beginning of roasting- may be required to gently tip the unit to the side to encourage movement
  • Chaff collector and the roasting chamber not locked in so easy to knock over and break
  • Use machine in area with good ventilation to prevent smell

Nesco Coffee Roaster 

The nesco roaster is an air roaster with a powerful agitator which enables it to produce an even roast. It is a very durable and well-made coffee roasting machine that is easy to use. The machine features advanced smoke and odor control allowing you to roast inside. Roasting time is generally around 20 minutes. While it is a great machine it only allows you to vary your roasting time, not temperature or agitation speed. This is a good beginner machine for someone who is new to coffee roasting.

pros:

  • Little or no smoke
  • Affordable
  • Easy to use
  • Able to recall last roast
  • Efficient cooling cycle
  • Easy to clean

cons:

  • Small roast capacity of 5 oz
  • Noisy machine- hard to hear cracks

The Best Home Coffee Roaster

Our final verdict is that the Behmor Drum Roaster is the best home coffee roaster as it is capable of roasting large batches of beans, has great customization and will produce a high quality roast. The machine has a lot of the features we are looking for with good smoke suppression, chaff collection and quiet running.

We recommend reading the manual and watching some YouTube tutorials for tips on using it. Also remember the safety feature that will automatically put the machine into a cooling cycle at 75% if you aren’t supervising it! If you are prone to forget set a timer! All in all this is a great machine to learn to master the art of roasting on.

Coffee Roasting Equipment

So now that you have decided on what roaster you are going to get, what other coffee roasting equipment would it be good to invest in?

  • An extractor fan is a good idea especially if you are wanting to roast indoors, as a lot of smoke is released during the roasting process.
  • Scales are a good investment so you can keep track of exactly how much coffee you are roasting.
  • It would also be a good idea to invest in some silicon gloves, to protect from burns
  • A sieve is a cheap and convenient way to quickly cool down your roasted beans.
  • Finally it would be a good idea to invest in a coffee storage container or some coffee storage bags to store your roasted beans in.
Roasting coffee beans

Tips For Roasting Coffee Beans At Home

  • Get some cheap beans initially so you can learn how to use your machine without feeling guilty about the cost. See here for a guide to buying green coffee beans.
  • Set up your roaster in a place with good ventilation. Use an extractor fan or open windows or even consider roasting outside so the smoke released from the beans can escape.
  • Get a notebook and record your temperature, fan or drum speed, roast times and the outcomes. This means you can duplicate roasts you love and tweak ones you are not so pleased about.
  • Don’t overload the roaster – this will lead to an inconsistent roast
  • Never leave a roaster unattended
  • Keep out of reach of children and pets as roasters can get very hot
  • Leave freshly roasted beans to rest for 2 days before using so they can degas (using beans that haven’t had time to degas will result in an uneven extraction)
  • Store roasted beans in an airtight container and in a cool dark place
  • Grind beans on demand and not too far in advance for the best tasting coffee

Happy Roasting!

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