I've been toying with the idea of roasting my own beans at home for a while... I've decided to give it a try and before I started up I was hoping I could get some advice/tips. Especially regarding equipment, any good online resources and general tips with the process. Thanks!

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Replies to This Discussion is a great place to start.

Go to the library (yea, some people still go) and check out a copy of Ken David's "Home Coffee Roasting: Romance and Revival". Scour the Home Roasting forum on Home Barista. These would be a good starting point.

Learn. Practice. Taste. Repeat.

Thanks! I'll be sure to check it all out, I appreciate it!
I hope those SM people appreciate how often we send people there. This is what, the third referral this week? We should get free stuff... I'd love an "espresso monkey" t-shirt :).

Kevin Ayers said: is a great place to start.
After doing some looking around on the links provided I am a little torn as far as what equipment to purchase. While I have a passion for being a barista I can't be sure it will carry to roasting, so I want to spend the minimum amount of money possible to get my foot in the door- while still having equipment that will allow me to get the experience of roasting. As of now I am looking at either the stovetop roasting kit from Sweet Maria's, either the SR500 or the Nesco. I would like to spend $200 or less (preferably less) to get started here. What do you believe is best to start with?
I got a Whirley Pop from them. I think I chose not to get the kit because I just wanted the popper, thermometer, and 8lb sampler, and it was something like $40? It's such a simple piece of equipment, and it should last. I like the 9 oz batch size, and it has a nice intuitive operation. I struggle with heat adjustments because I can't crank with one hand while adjusting my stove. I use multiple burners and opening the lid to try and adjust the heat. It's really fun for me and is inexpensive. Sometimes I can roast at home using the same (or similar) coffees from work or from some other shop, and that gives me something for comparison. Unfortunately not everything I roast tastes good, but for me that's almost not the point. I'm more interested in the education it gives me. I'm hooked on it, and I totally recommend it. Sweet Maria's is great.

Ok so i defiantly recommend going the cheap/free route first. Get your self some green coffee then use a pan or popcorn popper to roast it. You will soon relise that roasting is as fun as baristaing, and you will want the best roaster you can afford. And instead of wasting your money on a middle of the road roaster, you will start planing on how to afford a quest or hottop roaster.


Trust me if you think roasting coffee is fun in a popcorn popper, you will think it equally/more fun in a "real" roaster. I bought a hottop, but i got a decent deal on it. If I were going to buy one new, id just pop on the quest m3 instead. 


Either way i think waiting on buying a middle of the road roaster is best. 

I think the best bang for your buck on a home roasting kit is a Heat Gun and a Bread Machine.  You can knock out 1 pound batches with ease.  It's also a very powerful and agile setup that can profile a roast with ease.  Check the 2nd hand store for a cheap bread machine and pick up a heat gun at the hardware store.


Here is how I do mine:



Awesome set up Jackson! How much did that cost ya to put together?

Jackson Ball said:

I think the best bang for your buck on a home roasting kit is a Heat Gun and a Bread Machine.  You can knock out 1 pound batches with ease.  It's also a very powerful and agile setup that can profile a roast with ease.  Check the 2nd hand store for a cheap bread machine and pick up a heat gun at the hardware store.


Here is how I do mine:



Jackson; you have convinced me to start out with the bread machine (that being said I know my set up will be much less sophisticated). A friend of mine even supplied me a unopened bread maker that he received as a gift, thanks for the advice!

@ Dustin - It can be a very thrifty setup if you are resourceful.  Breadmachines are often found collecting dust at your parents or friends house(see Jacob's post) or even a 2nd hand store.  I got mine from ebay as I'm stuck in Baghdad right now.  The most expensive part of the kit was the heat gun.  Although almost any HG will do, I bought a Porter Cable online because it has variable power and good air flow(CFM).  I do like it and feel it was worth the $40.  It's held up to roasting in sandstorms and 110*+ heat.

You can also make a cheap upgrade for bean temp. monitoring by drilling a small hole right through the side of the BM and inserting a BBG thermometer.  Several are available for a good price and have a digital readout.  They are plenty accurate to get you pointed in the right direction.  Just make sure you drill your hole the stirring arm doesn't hit your probe.


@ Jacob - How lucky!  I think you will have a great time with it.  The plastic lid on mine had a metal insert which I separated.  You can see how I use it to rest the HG in thread I previously posted.  Also - HG's can put out very hot air temps which can scorch the beans if you're not careful.  If notice tipping or a burnt taste in the cup - just keep cranking the heat power down, or practice holding the gun a little farther away.  If you get a cheap HG without power control, Harbor Freight sells an inexpensive "router speed controller" which can fix that.  It just plugs into the wall, and you plug your HG into it.  It has a dial you can adjust power with.  Many HG/BM roasters go this route - the bonus is you can use cheap HG's and toss them when they eventually die on you.


A couple tidbits I was curious about before I started:  Most HG's have a switch and not a trigger so don't worry about having to squeeze one for 15 minutes;)  To stir your beans, just put the BM on "dough", it may "pulse" for up to 5 minutes before it goes to constant stir - this is a great time to pre-heat the roaster.  Re-wiring for constant is easier than it sounds - check the link below.  For my kit - I get VERY good control over the roast with 300g batches, ymmv.

If you have any other questions I'm happy to help.





PS - here is a some additional information you may find helpful:

Ya, good point Jackson. Theres actually a old bread machine sitting in  my parents garage right now(how weird that there was this huge craze about making your own bread!) any way I probably would of started this way had there not been an old popcorn popper in the house all ready. Im glad I started roasting without a buying a cheap crappy roaster, because i would of wanted to upgrade pretty quickly.


Anyone know of any other coffee roasting books available?

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