Choosing A Home Roaster

As a new ?home roaster? and taking the subject of coffee a little bit more seriously. I wanted to get into this new area but wasn?t sure where to start.

That was the beginning of a journey which led to several discoveries of which only a few are mentioned here.

A good place to start is by asking yourself, what are the benefits to home roasting that outweigh the convenience of simply getting coffee from a bag? Well, freshness is the quick answer to that question.

An issue with store-bought coffee is the quality of the cup that it produces. I quickly found in my research that quality declines quickly after roasting. Yes, fresh batches of roasted coffee need to be "rested" after roasting, but after 5 days the aromatics of the coffee start declining, and after 10 days there is a drop in cup quality.

Who knows how old the coffee sold in supermarkets and cafes truly is. If you have a local roaster near you, and can buy fresh coffee each week. That's a great option! Most people don't have that option at their disposal. Home roasting offers an alternative that might just provide the solution to that problem.

You control every aspect of the ?roast" to customize the coffee to your palate, as well as choose from a vast array of green (unroasted) coffees. Green coffee is quite stable and will not have a drop in cup quality from 6 months up to 1 year from arrival date. But home roasting isn?t for everyone. It's easy enough to try with an air popcorn popper to see if you like it.

It can take very little time and effort to roast your own, but it needs to be something you are willing to do or enjoy doing each week. So start in a small way. You can get a few pounds of greens to get a feel for it. Home roasting is more of an "adventure" in which you find the coffees, the roast, and the technique you like.

Things to expect in ?home roasting?.

Variety and fun

The smaller machines are based on the air popper design - they use hot air to roast coffee. The ideal time range for an air roast is 8 to 12 minutes. Air roasts tend to develop the brighter coffee. Drum roasts tend to develop more body. The larger machines are drum machines and give a slower roast.

Pros of the Air Popper Design

Lower equipment costs (provided you have a stove or oven)
Complete control of the roast
Higher volume batches (up to a pound)

Cons of the Air Popper Design

More labor intensive
No automation of temp or time controls
More smoke (more coffee equals more smoke)

A few words about durability, all the roasters last for an average of about two years. Longer if you use the machine less, roast lighter batches and clean the machine regularly.

In choosing a roaster your considerations should be how much coffee you plan on making and how much you want to spend. Batch sizes are the most important thing to consider (IMO).

Remember, the most important thing is deciding if this is something you want to get into.