So You’re Thinking About Roasting Your Own Coffee?

So you’re thinking about roasting your own coffee? When most of what is on the shelf at your local grocery store was roasted six or more months ago, I don’t blame you. And of course, there’s no shame towards the coffee drinkers who still buy the year old 12oz bag of Eight O’Clock, at Jewel Osco. If they haven’t tried truly fresh roasted coffee, they don’t know much different. In honesty, when the budget was tight I used to grab whatever was cheapest as well. That was before I roasted my own coffee. Now I look at the cheapest bag of coffee and I know I can roast something much more delicious, and fresh for about the same price or less. That’s right, by roasting my own coffee, I can have what would be the equivalent of a $15-$20 bag of coffee for $6 or less per pound.

Roasting your own beans is one of the best ways to cut that coffee budget line item in half. If you talk to anyone who has taken up the roasting craft, they will tell you the same thing, but they will probably also tell you, even if that wasn’t the case they would still roast their own beans anyway. Besides saving money, there is a profound enjoyment with being able to put the focus, care, and attention to roasting your own hand selected beans to perfection. While a nice coffee roasting machine might cost a bit more than pocket change, the enjoyment and the money saved in the long run make the decision to purchase one quite easy.

If you’ve come to the place of wanting to start roasting your own coffee, but aren’t sure where to start, we highlighted three of the best entry level roasting machines on the market. If you are looking for the most budget friendly options, check out our other article on roasting coffee at home.

Kaldi Wide

This roaster is set up similar to many of the gas powered commercial roasters. A design like this is hard to come by south of $1,000. Inside the perforated drum, beans are tossed over a heat source (which must be purchased separately). Unroasted coffee beans are inserted into the top through a chute and once the beans reach their desired roast degree there is a wood handle handy for tipping the machine and dumping the beans into a container for cooling. The Kaldi Wide also includes a thermocouple which is inserted into the bean mass to track how the beans are roasting in real time, which is a nice feature. We recommend this roaster for buying something that will last a while and for the roaster who wants to dive deep into the details of roasting coffee.

- The design mocks the design of commercial roasters at a lower price point.
- Sturdy build quality.
- Includes bean thermocouple.
- Nice batch size at around 250 - 300 grams.

- The roasting process can emit a lot of smoke.
- The metal housing gets very hot.
- Requires purchase of a separate heart source.

Fresh Roast SR540

The Fresh Roast SR540 is unique in that instead of being tossed by a rotating drum over a heat source, beans are tossed in a glass chamber by hot air. Some roasters who started out on a modified popcorn popper have commented that this is a nice upgrade due to the increased controls and customization. To use this machine you just need to pour the beans in the roasting chamber and toggle the heat, air and time settings to whatever roast profile you are aiming for. We recommend this roaster for a simple entry level machine that won’t break the bank.

- Includes a chaff collector (no need to vacuum scattered chaff on your garage floor).
- Glass chamber allows the user to see how the beans are developing.
- Lower price point for a coffee roasting machine.

- Limited control over roast profile.
- Small batch size (may be fine for a household with only one coffee drinker).
- Poor build quality limits longevity.

Sandbox Smart Roaster

This roaster has a lot to offer. The Sandbox Smart Roaster is a small black cube with a perforated drum inside that rotates over an electric heat source. This sleek looking box of a roaster provides the user with control over heat, drum speed, and airflow settings all by a few touches on the touch screen of your phone. You heard that right, this roaster is controlled with an app on your phone. In live time you can see how the coffee is progressing via a graphed temperature data curve. You can track the same data points that professional roasters use like rate of rise (the rate at which the bean temperature is rising over time), and development time percentage (indicating how much of the roast time is spent after first crack).

- Increased control over heat application.
- Integrated with smartphone app
- Can achieve consistent results

- Batch size is small at 100 grams
- App software can be glitchy
- Build quality could be better

In the end you can’t go wrong with any of these roasting machines. There’s no better way to learn than getting out there and doing it. If you have tried any of these roasters, let us know what you think!

READ MORE: The Easiest Way to Roast Your Own Coffee, and Spend Less While Doing It

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