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How we test coffee roasters

Find out how we test coffee roasters, so you can buy the best.

coffee beans ready for roasting
Last updated: 16 March 2018


Checked for accuracy by our qualified fact-checkers and verifiers. Find out more about fact-checking at CHOICE.

If you're passionate about your coffee you're probably considered roasting your beans yourself to the flavour and intensity you desire. Learning how to roast coffee takes lots of trial and error and as we all know, practice makes perfect. You can spend well over $1000 for a coffee roaster and if you're going to splurge on one you want to make sure it's going to be worth it. But you don't always have to spend big to get impressive results. 

Our expert tester is passionate about his coffee and roasts his own beans too, so he knows how to put coffee roasters through their paces. Here we'll tell you how he tests coffee roasters to help you choose what to buy.

Our expert tester

Our expert tester is the master of testing all general appliances. While he is passionate about getting the perfect coffee, his expertise lies not only with coffee machines, grinders and roasters. He regularly tests vacuum cleaners as well as toasters, kettles and steam mops. His pet projects involve getting out of the CHOICE laboratory and heading out to the race track to test car tyres, or heading to the Hunter Valley to test tents, lawn mowers and all sorts of other goodies.

How we choose what we test

Roasting coffee is quite niche so there aren't a huge deal of models out there to choose from. To find out what's out there we survey manufacturers about their range of models, we check market sales information and we also check for any member requests to test specific models. From this information we put together a final list that goes to our buyers. They then head out to the retailers and purchase each product, just as a normal consumer would. We do this so we can be sure they are the same as any consumer would find them and not 'tweaked' in any way.

How we test

Our tester, Peter Horvath, puts coffee roasters to the test by assessing their performance and ease of use.


Peter measures out the maximum quantity of green beans as recommended by the manufacturer. He adjusts the time and temperature accordingly, or uses a pre-programmed setting if one is available. He roasts the beans to the first crack, aiming to get beans from each roaster to the same or 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 it is to:

  • Use the roasting chamber
  • Select and program a roasting cycle
  • See the beans through the chamber while roasting
  • Hear the first and second cracks
  • Run the cooling cycle
  • Clean and store the roaster

He also assesses how clear the instructions are.

Test criteria explained

Overall score

The overall score is made up of:

  • Performance (70%)
  • Ease of use (30%)

Ease of use is weighted as follows:

  • Checking for first and second cracks (30%)
  • Cooling cycle (30%)
  • Ease of using the roasting chamber (10%)
  • Ease of selecting the roasting cycle (10%)
  • Visibility of the beans while roasting (10%)
  • Cleaning (10%)

Our test lab

Our testing laboratory is up to date with the latest reference machines and calibrated measurement tools for our testers to bring you the right results.

Ready to buy?

Ready to buy a coffee roaster? Take a look at our test results

We care about accuracy. See something that's not quite right in this article? Let us know or read more about fact-checking at CHOICE.

Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.