If you’re a coffee aficionado and want to control the freshness and flavour of your coffee then look no further than a home coffee roaster. Roasting takes trial and error but allows you to create coffee to suit your taste and over time can become a cheaper alternative to buying supermarket or boutique coffee.
The coffee roasting process
Roasting causes the colour and smell of the beans to change producing different flavours and two cracking noises indicate different stages. You’ll hear the first crack as all the moisture escapes the beans. At this point sugars start to caramelise and your coffee is roasted, however, this is the lightest roast. As roasting continues the oils in the beans release to create more flavour. Once you hear the second crack your coffee will be quite dark and roasting beyond this point will result in a harsh and bitter cup of coffee.
Manufacturers suggest to continually monitor the beans during roasting and once you've reached the desired stage you either turn it to the cooling phase or, if you’ve pre-programmed the cycle, it starts automatically. It’s important not to interrupt the cool-down phase, otherwise the beans will remain hot and continue to roast. A lot of smoke is created during roasting so you’ll need to turn on a fan, open a window or preferably roast outside.
Buying Vittoria Oro pre-roasted coffee beans at $32/kg and making 30 cups of coffee per week will cost you about $320 per year, whereas buying green beans at $14/kg and roasting them yourself would cost only about $175/year. Keep in mind that these figures don’t take into consideration the purchase price of the roasters so cost savings won’t initially be evident.
You can buy green coffee beans from online sites like:
We tested five roasters and found four to be worth considering. The iRoast performed poorly in a previous test, however it is now discontinued.
Behmor 1600 TO9500T
Gene Cafe Coffee Bean Roaster CBR-101
Hottop Coffee Roaster KN-8828B
i-Coffee N-901CR Coffee Bean Roaster
(A) This model has been discontinued.
How we test
Performance Our tester, Peter Horvath, measures out the maximum quantity of green beans as recommended by the manufacturers instructions. He then adjusts the time and temperature accordingly or uses a pre-programmed setting if available. He roasts the beans to the first crack, aiming to get beans from each roaster to the same/similar colour for assessment. After cooling, he weighs the roasted beans before grinding them and making a shot of coffee to comment on flavour and crema quality.
Ease of use Peter assesses how easy each machine is to adjust the time and temperature, program a cycle, use the roasting chamber, clean and store as well as the quality of the instructions.