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So you want to get your first coffee roasting machine, but with so many different roasting units out there, you’re unsure which will be the best and most practical for using at home.
I think maybe we can help. There are some great small coffee bean roasting machines that are perfect for the home with various designs and functionality tailored for people at all levels of roasting experience.
Whether you want to roast small batches or 1 or 2 kilos at a time, we’ve got you covered.
Our Top Pick: Best Value
Below we have compiled a list of six popular small coffee roasting machines. Also, if money is tight and you’re looking for a budget option, we’ve even thrown in a popcorn popper – yes, you can roast coffee beans with that too.
Benefits Of Roasting Coffee At Home?
Flavor, flavor, flavor. That just about sums up the benefits of roasting coffee beans at home.
You will get to experience the freshest coffee possible. As soon as coffee has been roasted, the clock starts ticking, and the coffee will begin to lose its flavor.
Those bags of coffee you buy from the supermarket have more than likely been sitting on the shelves for months prior to purchase; it’s safe to say that most bags are well past their prime.
On the other hand, green coffee beans can be kept fresh and stored for long periods without losing flavor.
So you have the freedom to roast small batches whenever needed. Apart from retaining flavor, roasting your own coffee allows you to experiment and create unique blends by mixing coffee bean varieties.
With a bit of practice and experimentation, you can create a blend that will far surpass the one-dimensional flavors found on supermarket shelves.
Different Types Of Coffee Roasting Machines
You can roast coffee at home with almost anything, even a heat gun, if you want to get really creative.
However, getting all MacGyver with their coffee roasting isn’t very practical for most people.
So for commercial and home roasting the machines can be separated into two distinct types – air roasters and drum roasters.
If you’re just starting out, it might be a good idea to start with a budget-friendly option that roasts small batches very quickly, in only a couple of minutes.
Air coffee roasters are an inexpensive way to get started with home roasting. Most of the best air roasters use a fluid bed system that uses hot air to roast and also moves the coffee.
There are a couple of downsides to air coffee roasters.
Electric air roasters are especially affected by the voltage and ambient temperature, making it challenging to maintain a steady and consistent heat.
Compared to air roasters, drum roasters tend to roast more slowly, similar to commercial coffee roasting machines.
A typical roast time using a drum machine can range anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes. With a good drum roaster, you will have control over the roast time, the temperature, and roasting profiles which you typically can’t do with most air roasters.
As the saying goes, you get what you pay for, and with drum roasters, the more expensive the machine is the more control, functions, and features you will get.
6 Best Home Coffee Roasters
Below I have handpicked a selection of machines that are perfect for home coffee roasting.
Most of these coffee roasters have been around for some time and have a proven track record for reliability. Depending on how much you want to spend, any of the below will be perfect for your roasting needs.
Fresh Roast SR540
A favorite of mine, which I’ve had success with on a number of occasions, is the FreshRoast SR540. For small batch coffee roasting at home, it really doesn’t get any better than this – the FreshRoast is like a popcorn maker on steroids.
With this pocket-sized coffee roaster, you can roast up to four ounces of coffee per cycle, which is a good amount for a hobbyist.
It features a real time temperature display, which is super handy. With a quick eyeball, you can see how far along your beans are in the roasting process.
Also, the nine levels of fan control combined with the temperature control give you just enough control. All the roasting adjustments can be made by pushing the dial-knob and then turning to adjust the heat, fan, and time.
The SR540 makes it super easy to fine-tune your roasts to get precisely what you want. Plus, the built-in chaff collector is a good addition, and it helps to keep mess and cleaning to a minimum.
If you have limited space, such as an apartment, the FreshRoast SR540 only has a small footprint and can easily be stored in a kitchen cupboard when not in use.
Jiawanshun Electric Coffee Roaster Machine
If you’re looking for a cheap home coffee roaster that is easy to use check out this electric model. If you’ve been using a popcorn popper for roasting, this is an excellent step up and will enable you to roast larger batches easily.
It’s not complicated to use. Add your green coffee beans, turn it on and dial in your preferred temperature. The roasting arm inside the non-stick basin slowly turns to move and aerate your coffee as it roasts, resulting in an even uniform roast profile.
This machine holds a reasonable amount for home use, and you can roast about a pound of coffee in each batch. The glass cover gives you a clear view of the entire process and when you start to hear cracks you can quickly adjust the dial to set the temperature where needed.
You can expect to roast at a medium level within 12 minutes at a temperature of 240 degrees and darker roasts at around 13 to 14 minutes at the same temperature.
Due to the design, the machine does create a fair amount of smoke, especially when you lift the lid; also, there is no chaff collector.
For these reasons, I strongly recommend using this coffee roaster outside or at the very least near an open window.
Kaldi Home Coffee Roaster
If you have decided that coffee roasting will be a full-on hobby and something you really enjoy, I can’t recommend the Kaldi home coffee roaster enough – it’s a great bit of kit!
The Kaldi is like a scaled-down version of a commercial roasting machine, and it’s obviously designed for the serious home coffee roaster.
Be warned, the Kaldi won’t hold your hand and doesn’t come with functions and features to control the roasting process – it’s up to you and your skill to create an epic batch.
As long as you have a reasonable batch size, cracks will happen quickly so you will have a uniform roast. And thanks to the built-in thermometer, you can eyeball the temperature quickly.
Talking about batches, the Kaldi holds a decent amount, and you should have no problem filling it with 200 grams of beans without any spilling out.
One downside is that this machine doesn’t have any smoke suppression technology. As you know, there is a lot of smoke when roasting coffee, so best to use this in a well-ventilated area. Also, be warned the outside of the drum gets very hot!
This is an excellent hands-on home coffee roaster that will enable you to learn the intricacies of the roasting process from start to finish.
Sandbox Smart R1+C1 Home Coffee Roaster Machine
The Sandbox Smart R1 brings home coffee roasting to anyone with a smartphone.
Although it’s relatively new in the market, it has already gained a loyal following due to its ease of use, sleek modern design, and the ability to create and save roasting profiles to the cloud.
Controlling the unit is simple, and almost all operating is done via the app. You can follow one of the six premade roast profiles or use one that has been shared by the community or even fall back to one you have previously saved.
It’s pretty neat how coffee roasting has become a social experience with the Sandbox Smart R1.
Sandbox Smart R1 uses a drum roasting mechanism that is heated by halogen bulbs. The drum is easy to remove, fill and replace. Underneath the unit, there is a drawer that pulls out for collecting any parchment and chaff. You can easily roast back-to-back with a brief cool down in between.
Operating is simple enough, and as long as you confirm the first and second crack in the app, you should be good.
One downside is that the unit doesn’t come with any built-in smoke suppression. I think a smoke suppression system would have been a great addition to a modern unit such as this.
But if you tend to lean toward light and medium roasts, there shouldn’t be too much smoke. However, I will still advise operating the unit in a well-ventilated area or on a stovetop with a good exhaust fan.
Bocaboca Infrared Coffee Roaster
Don’t let the Latin sounding name fool you, the BocaBoca roaster is from Korea. The BocaBoca is a relatively new model that has already earned quite a reputation among American coffee enthusiasts.
The infrared radiation heat source makes the Bocaboca stand out from the competition. This concept is new in the world of coffee roasting, and you are able to use a glass drum rather than a perforated steel drum.
The glass drum lets you keep a close eye on each step of the roasting process and the color of the roast. Plus there is a lot less chaff and debris releasing from the drum as it turns.
The glass roasting chamber drum is easy to remove and clean and will need cleaning about every 6-10 roasts.
Once your beans are roasted, you can use the built-in wicker cooling tray and the fan to cool the coffee beans rapidly – the cooling cycle takes about 3 minutes. The tray also collects any extra chaff and parchment that might have been missed before.
The Bocaboca does have a slight learning curve because there is no preset programming. However, the roasting instructions are simple, which makes the machine pretty easy to master.
Nuvo Eco Ceramic Handy Coffee Bean Roaster
If you just want to roast a small batch of green coffee beans you have lying around, the Nuvo might be a great option. It’s not going to win any awards for its roasting excellence, but for what it does, you really can’t complain.
This is an incredibly simple coffee roaster for anybody who wants to try roasting at home without being under any illusions of producing something outstanding – although, with some experimentation, good results are definitely possible.
The Nuvo Eco ceramic handy coffee bean roaster needs only two things to produce tasty roasted beans: fire and your ability to move. However, this thing can get pretty messy, with chaff going everywhere.
You can roast up to 70 grams of coffee using the Nuvo, which is perfect for brewing coffee for one. If it’s just you and the wilderness stuck in an RV, you might fall in love with this pocket-sized coffee roaster.
Aside from that, the main selling point of this ceramic coffee roaster is that it’s cheap.
Try Using A Popcorn Maker To Roast Coffee?
Before investing in a coffee bean roasting machine, why not try a popcorn maker first?
Obviously, they’re not technically made for roasting coffee per se. Still, for coffee enthusiasts, they are the perfect tool when you first start out.
It’s a great first step into the world of coffee roasting, and buying an automatic or manual popcorn maker will give you a chance to figure out if you enjoy the hands-on process of roasting coffee beans at home without putting much stress on your wallet.
They operate similarly to an air roaster and push hot air through the coffee beans. However, compared to a proper roasting machine, they aren’t going to be perfect, and a typical batch of coffee roasted in a popcorn maker is often unevenly roasted.
This is due to the lack of movement inside the chamber, and the lack of force as the hot air pushes through the beans. Due to the size of most popcorn makers, you will only be able to roast small batches at a time.
Although there are negatives to using a popcorn maker, it is still one of the best budget-friendly ways to roast coffee at home.
How To Choose The Right Coffee Roasting Machine
Before you settle on a roaster, I suggest you take a minute or two to read our buying tips. It’s a big step to buy your first coffee roaster, so you’ll want to ensure you get the right one.
Hands On Or Hands Off?
I’ll be honest, roasting coffee isn’t really something you can set and forget; you need to be close by monitoring the roasting process. It doesn’t take much for your coffee beans to accidentally burn if you’re not paying close enough attention.
But with that said, some home roasting machines give you the option to set a timer and walk away. The more expensive coffee roasters tend to offer greater controllability allowing you to tweak temperatures and roast times, for example.
Top-of-the-range high-end coffee roasters often come with full programmability, and apart from controlling the time and temperature with some machines you can also create and save coffee roasting profiles to use when you roast the same batch of coffee again.
How Much Coffee Are You Roasting?
I recommend doing small batches for home coffee roasting that will last you a week or two. Air coffee roasters tend to have a small capacity, whereas a slightly large drum roaster has the ability to churn out much bigger batches.
Obviously, the more coffee you roast, the quicker you need to use it before it starts to deteriorate and lose its flavor; remember, you can store unroasted green coffee for extended periods, but as soon as it’s roasted, the clock starts ticking.
Just remember that the advertised capacity of any roasting machine is likely to be less than stated, and the beans will lose up to 20 percent of their weight during the roasting process.
So rather than focusing on the capacity, pay attention to the burner capacity (not the drum size) to determine how much coffee it can roast well.
Cooling Is Important
Don’t get carried away with the roasting process and overlook the cooling part because cooling is almost as important as heating.
As soon as your coffee beans reach your preferred roast level, you need to cool them down as quickly as possible. If you don’t, your coffee will continue to cook due to the residing heat trapped inside the machine.
Most cheap coffee roasters won’t have any particular function to remove heat, so it’s up to you to get your coffee beans out and laid out on a tray to cool.
On the flip side, many of the best coffee roasters that fall into the high-end category, and come with a price tag to match, will have some sort of cooling feature.
Many will use a “cool air function” to quickly cool down your freshly roasted coffee, while other machines will drop your coffee onto a cooling tray automatically.
Keeping It Clean
Coffee roasting isn’t a clean process; apart from dealing with the smoke, chaff can quickly build up.
To make roasting coffee as clean as possible, many machines have a built-in smoke suppression system to eliminate a lot of the smoke.
This is especially useful if you rent an apartment where smoking cigarettes is prohibited. I’ve heard stories of landlords refusing to give back bonds due to the smell of smoke from roasting coffee in the apartment.
Chaff collection systems are also standard in most premium coffee bean roaster machines and are definitely a good idea if you hate cleaning up.
So you want to roast some coffee at home? Regardless of your experience, I think you shouldn’t have any problems with any of the coffee bean roaster machines I’ve picked out and listed above.
If you are buying your very first machine, I suggest purchasing a larger roaster than you think you need.
Honestly, I have never known anyone regret buying a roasting machine that was a bit too large, but I have known a lot of coffee roasters who regret buying a machine that they quickly outgrew.
If you drink a lot of coffee and find yourself getting through a few kilos in under a month, your best bet is to buy a roaster that can do large batches. You can then bag and seal the roasted coffee in small amounts and open when needed.
Just remember, once your freshly roasted coffee beans have been bagged or placed in a sealed container, ideally, it should be allowed to rest for a few days to degas before you grind and brew.
You’ll quickly realize that roasting your own coffee beans at home gives you complete control over the flavor, and you can mix and match different coffees to create a unique blend that is uniquely yours.