Best Home Coffee Roasters: Why You Need One (And How To Use It)

Best Home Coffee Roasters: Why You Need One (And How To Use It)

It all started with a sip.

And for many people, that’s where it ended. They pursed their lips and decided that coffee isn’t for them. Or they fell into a big pot of stale, hours-old coffee and never climbed back out again.

Not you, though.

You kept going, wondering if you could get a better cup. You tried drip, espresso, cold-brew. You started to notice where the beans were coming from, the other flavors in there. You started working out what you liked. You bought a grinder and a coffee machine and started making coffee at home.

Before you knew it, you had a semi-automatic machine, and every day now starts with the whirr of freshly ground coffee. You’re making microfoams, looking for single-estate beans, chasing that elusive last step to the perfect cup.

Then it hits you. You could roast the beans yourself.

Eyes bright with the slight mania only ever seen in enthusiastic hobbyists, you start to go over the benefits of home coffee roasters:

  • You get complete control over everything. Short of growing the beans yourself, this is the most you’ll ever be able to influence how the final cup tastes.
  • Your coffee is always going to be freshly roasted.
  • Green coffee keeps for over a year without a noticeable decline in flavor.
  • You’ll often get more coffee for your money if you’re roasting it yourself.

Let's get started.

Before we get to the individual reviews, let's take a look at our rankings for the Best Home Coffee Roaster.

Overall
93
Behmor 1600 Plus Drum Roaster

Behmor 1600 Plus Drum Roaster

Behmor 1600 Plus Drum Roaster

Behmor 1600 Plus Drum Roaster

Critically-acclaimed and much-loved, the Behmor 1600 Plus drum roaster can roast up to 1 lb of beans at a time. That's the largest capacity among home roasters and is ideal for true coffee enthusiasts.
Overall
91
Kaldi Drum Roaster

Kaldi Drum Roaster

Kaldi Drum Roaster

Kaldi Drum Roaster

This is a drum roaster with a twist. Instead of being heated by its own internal element, the Kaldi Drum Roaster is heated by a burner for better electric efficiency. However, its design makes it hard to monitor progress.
Overall
90
Fresh Roast SR-540 Air Roaster

Fresh Roast SR-540 Air Roaster

Fresh Roast SR-540 Air Roaster

Fresh Roast SR-540 Air Roaster

The Fresh Roast SR-540 has 4 oz capacity and is the successor to the popular SR-500. It maintains everything people loved about the original while adding additional heat and speed options.
Overall
83
Nuvo Eco Manual Ceramic Roaster

Nuvo Eco Manual Ceramic Roaster

Nuvo Eco Manual Ceramic Roaster

Nuvo Eco Manual Ceramic Roaster

The Nuvo Eco Manual Ceramic Roaster lets almost anyone roast coffee in their own home. Toss in your green coffee beans, find a heat source, and roast away. It makes roasting low-cost and accessible but much harder.
Overall
78
Hamilton Beach 73400 Popcorn Popper

Hamilton Beach 73400 Popcorn Popper

Hamilton Beach 73400 Popcorn Popper

Hamilton Beach 73400 Popcorn Popper

Yes, the Hamilton Beach 73400 is a popcorn popper. Also yes, you can use it to roast coffee beans at home. You don't get any temp control or fancy features, but it gets the job done at an eye-popping price point.

We've rated and ranked each option you need to know about. Without further ado, here are our official reviews for the Best Home Coffee Roaster.

Behmor 1600 Plus Drum Roaster

Behmor 1600 Plus Drum Roaster
Overall Rating
93
Roast Quality (40%)
95
Design & Features (20%)
92
Durability (20%)
90
Ease of Use (10%)
88
Brand Reputation (10%)
93

The Bottom Line

Critically-acclaimed and much-loved, the Behmor 1600 Plus drum roaster can roast up to 1 lb of beans at a time. That's the largest capacity among home roasters and is ideal for true coffee enthusiasts.

Pros of the Behmor 1600 Plus Drum Roaster

Pros of Behmor 1600 Plus Drum Roaster

Cons of the Behmor 1600 Plus Drum Roaster

Cons of Behmor 1600 Plus Drum Roaster

Behmor 1600 Plus Drum Roaster Overview

You can directly control the heat and speed of the drum, allowing for endless experimentation under precise conditions, letting you dial in every roast until you have something spectacular.

It’s an expensive bit of equipment, though, and has a safety feature that’s a real double-edged sword. Around three-quarters of the way through roasting, you have to manually confirm that you’re still there or it will stop the roast. Some love the safety, others hate not being able to leave the machine to complete the cycle on its own.

Where can you find the Behmor 1600 Plus Drum Roaster?

Where can you find Behmor 1600 Plus Drum Roaster?

Find it on Amazon →
Find it on 1stInCoffee →
Find it on →
Check out the instead →

Kaldi Drum Roaster

Kaldi Drum Roaster
Overall Rating
91
Roast Quality (40%)
93
Design & Features (20%)
90
Durability (20%)
82
Ease of Use (10%)
87
Brand Reputation (10%)
87

The Bottom Line

This is a drum roaster with a twist. Instead of being heated by its own internal element, the Kaldi Drum Roaster is heated by a burner for better electric efficiency. However, its design makes it hard to monitor progress.

Pros of the Kaldi Drum Roaster

Pros of Kaldi Drum Roaster

Cons of the Kaldi Drum Roaster

Cons of Kaldi Drum Roaster

Kaldi Drum Roaster Overview

This is a drum roaster with a twist. Instead of being heated by its own internal elements, the Kaldi is instead placed over a burner.

This gives it a considerably lower electric consumption rate than other drum roasters. It’s also an absolutely gorgeous machine that will look great on any countertop.

It does come with a few downsides. The drum is well and truly hidden, so you’ll need to insert a scoop to visually assess the beans as they roast. The need to have both a power supply and a burner can be problematic in some kitchen setups, and the hot machine has to be left on the stove after roasting to cool-down.

Where can you find the Kaldi Drum Roaster?

Where can you find Kaldi Drum Roaster?

Find it on Amazon →
Find it on 1stInCoffee →
Find it on →
Check out the instead →

Fresh Roast SR-540 Air Roaster

Fresh Roast SR-540 Air Roaster
Overall Rating
90
Roast Quality (40%)
90
Design & Features (20%)
90
Durability (20%)
88
Ease of Use (10%)
90
Brand Reputation (10%)
90

The Bottom Line

The Fresh Roast SR-540 has 4 oz capacity and is the successor to the popular SR-500. It maintains everything people loved about the original while adding additional heat and speed options.

Pros of the Fresh Roast SR-540 Air Roaster

Pros of Fresh Roast SR-540 Air Roaster

Cons of the Fresh Roast SR-540 Air Roaster

Cons of Fresh Roast SR-540 Air Roaster

Fresh Roast SR-540 Air Roaster Overview

A transparent chamber makes it easy to observe the beans during roasting, and the chaff collector makes cleanup a lot less messy.

New to this model is a range of extra heat and speed options that really elevate it to a new level. There are nine levels for both, allowing curious roasters to control the process with a lot of precision. It also offers real-time temperature readings from inside the chamber.

The only real downside is its relatively small size: a 4oz capacity will need pretty regular roasts to meet the needs of a coffee-loving household.

Where can you find the Fresh Roast SR-540 Air Roaster?

Where can you find Fresh Roast SR-540 Air Roaster?

Find it on Amazon →
Find it on 1stInCoffee →
Find it on →
Check out the instead →

Nuvo Eco Manual Ceramic Roaster

Nuvo Eco Manual Ceramic Roaster
Overall Rating
83
Roast Quality (40%)
80
Design & Features (20%)
80
Durability (20%)
92
Ease of Use (10%)
85
Brand Reputation (10%)
80

The Bottom Line

The Nuvo Eco Manual Ceramic Roaster lets almost anyone roast coffee in their own home. Toss in your green coffee beans, find a heat source, and roast away. It makes roasting low-cost and accessible but much harder.

Pros of the Nuvo Eco Manual Ceramic Roaster

Pros of Nuvo Eco Manual Ceramic Roaster

Cons of the Nuvo Eco Manual Ceramic Roaster

Cons of Nuvo Eco Manual Ceramic Roaster

Nuvo Eco Manual Ceramic Roaster Overview

Where can you find the Nuvo Eco Manual Ceramic Roaster?

Where can you find Nuvo Eco Manual Ceramic Roaster?

Find it on Amazon →
Find it on 1stInCoffee →
Find it on →
Check out the instead →

Hamilton Beach 73400 Popcorn Popper

Hamilton Beach 73400 Popcorn Popper
Overall Rating
78
Roast Quality (40%)
75
Design & Features (20%)
75
Durability (20%)
85
Ease of Use (10%)
83
Brand Reputation (10%)
80

The Bottom Line

Yes, the Hamilton Beach 73400 is a popcorn popper. Also yes, you can use it to roast coffee beans at home. You don't get any temp control or fancy features, but it gets the job done at an eye-popping price point.

Pros of the Hamilton Beach 73400 Popcorn Popper

Pros of Hamilton Beach 73400 Popcorn Popper

Cons of the Hamilton Beach 73400 Popcorn Popper

Cons of Hamilton Beach 73400 Popcorn Popper

Hamilton Beach 73400 Popcorn Popper Overview

Let’s address the elephant in the room before we start.

Yes, this is a popcorn maker.

As we said earlier, though, the fundamentals are pretty much the same. It moves hot air upwards to heat whatever is in the chamber and keep it moving. It’s also less than half the price of the next cheapest option, making it a good choice for those that are just dipping their toes in to see how they like the water.

On the downside, it has literally no features. It won’t tell you how hot it is, it won’t beep when the coffee is done, it won’t turn itself off, and it won’t allow you to control the temperature or airspeed.

Who’s it for? Coffee lovers who want to see if they like roasting, people who enjoy a challenge, people who want to roast their own beans but aren’t too concerned with repeated experimenting to get things perfect.

Where can you find the Hamilton Beach 73400 Popcorn Popper?

Where can you find Hamilton Beach 73400 Popcorn Popper?

Find it on Amazon →
Find it on 1stInCoffee →
Find it on →
Check out the instead →

How To Roast Coffee At Home

So, how do you roast your own coffee? There are 10 simple steps, that will take you from bean to cup.

Step 1: Buy green, unroasted coffee beans

They can be quite hard to find in person, but they’re easily purchasable online from sites like SweetMarias.

Step 2: Roast 3-4 minutes to 240°F

You’ll need a home coffee roaster. If you don’t have one, this guide will help you choose the best home coffee roaster for your needs.

After 3-4 minutes of roasting, you’ll produce pale white beans, ending around the 240°F (140°C). This is a very important stage because it’s here that the bean begins to lose moisture and begin absorbing heat into its center. The smell here is going to be grassy and fresh.

Step 3: Continue roasting to 300°F

Coloring begins and the beans become yellow. It’s here that the Maillard Reaction starts to happen.

This chemical reaction, sometimes referred to as browning, creates new flavors and aromas in food, and occurs in everything from cookies to steaks. The beans will now start to smell more like fresh hay.

Step 4: Continue roasting to 330°F

At this stage the beans orange or very light brown. It’s here that caramelization starts to happen and the aroma turns from something vegetal into something sweet and appetizing!

Step 5: First crack at 385°F

The beans will start to pop! This is called first crack and is a key moment because it marks the beginning of the development stage.

The minutes that follow require the most finesse and knowledge because it’s after first crack that the coffee will change the most.

Steps 6-9 describe how to achieve varying roast levels. You can stop at any time after reaching the desired roast (e.g., light, medium, dark, French, or Italian) and proceed to Step 10.

Step 6: Light-to-medium roast at 400°F

The beans develop and darken to a light brown. Shortly after the first crack, you’ll reach what’s called the city or medium roast.

Many call this the perfect point to enjoy the innate flavors bean, and it tends to favor fruity, acidic notes present in Kenyan and Ethiopian coffee beans.

Step 7: Medium-to-dark roast at 410°F

The beans develop into a medium brown as further caramelization occurs. This is called a full city roast and it’s here that the roast starts to affect the bean with notes of chocolate, caramel, and nuttiness.

A little oil will begin to leak from inside the bean, and the overall acidity of the bean will start to drop.

Step 8: Second crack and dark, oily beans at 445°F

The beans will become dark brown and oily, then undergo second crack. This is exactly what it sounds like: a second, quieter crack of the coffee bean.

It marks the French or dark roast stage, where smokey flavors really start to dominate and the sugars in the bean almost begin to burn.

Developing the beans even further will give you an Italian roast, which is very dark brown and begins to become quite bitter and even charred. Once you reach an Italian roast, it’s time to stop.

Step 9: Overroasting after the second crack

You won’t get much time after Italian roast before the beans begin to overroast and become extremely dark brown, almost black, and oily.

At this point, smoke and acrid flavors will overpower everything else and you’ll have ruined the batch.

Step 10: Whenever you choose to stop roasting, begin the cooling process

Once you’re satisfied with your roasted beans, immediately place them into a large colander, and then tip them into a second one.

Continue to transfer the beans between the two colanders for 1-2 minutes. This allows them to cool much more rapidly and shakes loose all the outer bean-skin (chaff) that has come loose during the roasting process.

After this, you’ll want to wait 3-4 days for the gases in the beans to disappear.

3 Types of Home Coffee Roasters

There are 3 main types of home coffee roaster:

  1. Manual
  2. Air
  3. Drum

1. Manual coffee roasters

As you might have guessed from the name, manual machines put most of the workload onto you.

The most common variety is the drum, which consists of a simple metal drum over a propane burner. You hand-crank the drum to keep the beans moving and air circulating.

You’ll also see waffle style ceramic roasters, which are essentially enclosed ceramic pans with a textured interior. You place the beans inside, place the roaster over the heat and toss them yourself.

Both options are quite fun and novel but may grow tiresome after repeated use. They also lack any technical assistance. Both control of heat and timing are left entirely up to you.

2. Drum coffee roasters

More sophisticated drum roasters come with a number of extra features to make them a good upgrade to a manual machine.

First and foremost, the drum is powered by the machine, meaning you don’t need to constantly watch and turn the drum yourself.

Drum roasters also benefit from less extreme heating elements, which allow the drum to heat more evenly and gently.

A drum roaster will typically take 12-20 minutes depending on its capacity, which gives considerably more time to play around in the development stage.

3. Air coffee roasters

Air roasters work just like popcorn machines, pushing hot air through a chamber to roast the beans.

In fact, many people choose to use high-powered popcorn machines to roast their beans if they’re on a budget!

Air roasters are less visually appealing but are generally a little easier to use than drum roasters as there are fewer variables to control.

Note about air roasters: We discuss the possibility of using a popcorn machine as a low-cost air roaster several times in this article. Used carefully, it can be a great way to roast your own beans at home on a very tight budget. However, you must take the relevant precautions and be responsible. It will output a decent amount of smoke, and if you don’t supervise the machine it will carry on roasting the beans until they are burnt to charcoal or it starts a fire.

Which home coffee roaster should I pick?

Picking the right roaster can feel overwhelming, but it’s actually surprisingly simple. You just need to ask yourself 4 questions.

How much do you actually want to do this?

Countless cabinets around the world are lined with machines gathering dust. If you’re just curious about the idea, spending upwards of $500 on a machine probably isn’t the best idea. Roasting is a fickle art that requires time, patience, and a strong will to really get into.

If you’re not sure this is something you really want to commit to, choose one of the cheaper options to get a taste for it. A manual drum or a cheap popcorn maker will help you to see how keen you really are. It will also help you see if you’re a fan of either the drum or air roasting style.

What’s your budget?

Precision-controlled drum and air roasters aren’t cheap with upper-range models costing as much as a good home espresso machine.

If you have the money and enthusiasm, drum roasters are a great bet, but for those with more limited budgets, either a ceramic manual roaster or a popcorn machine may once again be the right choice.

How much time do you want the roast to take?

Air roasters tend to complete their process in 8-10 minutes whereas drum roasters will take up to 20. This can make all the difference if you’re lacking free time, or if you make the fatal mistake of letting your reserves run dry on a weekday morning!

How ergonomic do you want the roaster to be?

Is it something you’d like to be able to take to work or to a friend’s house? Do you have a lot of counter space for it to live on or are you looking for something to tuck away when out of use?

Air roasters tend to be smaller and more portable, so they’ll better suit frequent movement but are often less visually appealing to keep out on a counter.

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