Coffee bean roasters can be a valuable investment and take only a minimal amount of time to master. Whether you prefer a light roast, medium roast or dark roast, the perfect roasted coffee bean should be freshly roasted to produce those characteristic flavors of our favorite coffees. If you choose to roast your coffee at home, it provides you with the advantage of being able to play with different flavor profiles and ensure that you have a fresh roast every time.
There are two different coffee roasters available on the market for home use; these include fluid beds and drums.
Fluid bed roasters feature a glass roasting chamber that allows you to watch the roasting process. Fluid bed roasters use steam to roast the coffee beans. A tall cylinder allows the air to flow through the chamber and then distributes the heat using the method of convection.
The advantages of using a fluid bed roaster include an easy cleanup process, minimal roasting time, and roast uniformity. The roasting time of a fluid bed roaster can be up to half of what the roasting time in a drum roaster is.
Drum roasting is the more common method but is also a slower process and uses hot air to roast the coffee beans. The coffee has less distinct flavors but can also be richer and fuller.
Drum roasters are more economical than fluid bed roasters, and the design is simple and easy to use. They have a rotating cylindrical drum with heat that is applied directly under the drum or through a conduit. The heat comes from an electric heating element.
Most coffee bean roasters that are meant for home use have a standard power level of 120 volts. The machines need to be cleaned regularly in order to avoid the risk of fire and should be monitored at all times during the roasting process.
Before becoming that perfectly roasted coffee bean you will find most beans are a shade of green. After the beans begin the roasting process, they turn from the green to a yellow color and then to a lighter brown color. The bean temperature should reach approximately 380 degrees before the first crack takes place. The sound is very similar to a popcorn popper.
The beans will crack a second time when the temperature reaches 435 degrees. The roasting process will cause the beans to get darker and darker as the time passes. After roasting a few times, you will be able to get a handle on what color the beans should be at for whatever roast you prefer, and you can always keep a sample of each roast to compare to the next in order to create the perfect roasted bean for your tastes.
Before purchasing a coffee bean roaster for home use, there are a few key points that should be considered when reviewing different brands and types of roasters that are available.
Roasting coffee at home can produce a lot of smoke, so proper ventilation is recommended. Roasters have a component called a chaff. The chaff is the skin that covers the unroasted green coffee beans. The coffee is then roasted, and as it is roasted, it dries out and separates from the beans. The chaff collector has to be removed after every roast.
When you roast coffee beans, the beans themselves will begin to expand to almost two times their original size, but they will also lose up to three ounces per pound of weight due to the loss of moisture and the separation of the chaff during the roasting process.
The following are reviews of several different coffee bean roasters that can be used at home. There are several different brands and price points with different features that can be compared to make finding your first, or next, coffee bean roaster easier.
The Gene Café Home Coffee Roaster can roast up to 250 grams of coffee beans in approximately fifteen minutes and has a fully viewable roast chamber with adjustable time and temperature settings. It is a combination of a drum and fluid bed roaster and allows more flexibility for the coffee lover. The cooling cycle takes place in the drum and when it is done roasting there is an audible beep. The machine is extremely quiet and has a manual cooling button.
The Behmor Drum Coffee Roaster has a one pound capacity and five customizable profile settings including a manual roasting override option. It has a patent pending smoke suppression technology which makes it safe for indoor roasting and thermostatically controlled quartz roasting elements with variable speed rotating which provides a more even performance. The interior is lit so that you can view the beans as they roast.
The Fresh Roast Coffee Bean Roaster is quiet and offers great visibility during the roasting process. It has a manual stirring or high fan setting for even roasts and is simple to use and durable. You are also able to adjust the temperature and time without interrupting the roasting cycle.
The Nesco Coffee Bean Roaster has patented catalytic technology that helps to reduce the smoke and odor that is produced during the roasting process. It creates an even roast and uniform color and can control the roast between light and dark. It is capable of roasting up to one-third of a pound of coffee beans, and it takes a remarkable 20 to 30 minutes; this yields enough for 36 cups of coffee. It is a quiet machine and relatively easy to operate.
The Fresh Roast SR300 is a fluid bed coffee roaster and allows the user to add or subtract time during the roasting cycle. You can add six seconds every time the button is pressed and the maximum time allowed to set the controls 9.9 minutes. The timer can be overridden by the cool button. The cooling button will allow the roaster to go into cool mode for three minutes. It also has a 120-gram capacity with a digital display and viewable roasting process.
The coffee bean roasters that were reviewed are different models that feature different settings and different roast weights. Each roaster is different, just as each coffee drinker is different. It is a trial and error process when you start out roasting your own coffee beans.
If you live in a smaller home with less than desirable ventilation, then you will want to purchase a machine that emits minimal smoke and odor. These machines may not have a large capacity, however, so you have to weigh your options.
Roasting coffee is very similar to popping popcorn. When you pop popcorn, you have to watch it and listen to the popping sounds to get an idea of when it will be done so that you do not burn it. Roasting coffee is very similar in this respect.
Roasting coffee requires a lot of time and patience and needs to be monitored during the process to prevent the beans from burning. The majority of machines available for home use make viewing the process easy which cuts out some of the guesswork and prevents over roasting the coffee beans.
Finally, the more expensive machines may not be beginner friendly. With any machine, you purchase you want to be sure to read through the manual and follow the instructions exactly. It is also a good idea to review the manufacturer’s warranty and return and replacement policies in case the machine you purchased is defective or has stopped working.
Roasting machines are a big investment, and you want to be sure that the product you buy is worth its weight and value.