Coffee beans are deceptively fragile. Technically speaking, they begin to deteriorate soon after roasting—though probably not noticeably. However, after they’ve been left to sit for five days, some of the coffee beans’ aromatic qualities begin to fade away.
Home roasting in smaller batches with the best coffee roaster machine prevents that degradation, simply by the roaster producing just enough high-quality beans to last through the drinking cycle. Creativity is another great reason people turn to the best home coffee roasters. Every coffee bean has a distinctive flavor profile, marked by subtle differences in taste, body, and accents.
With a home roaster, coffee drinkers can experiment with different blends for a wide spectrum of tastes. Like those who brew their own beer, home coffee roasters can tinker with basic roasting formulas to create blends with their own stamp.
Several machines on the market make home coffee roasting possible for anyone who wants to try it—but, like coffee beans themselves, there are a lot of differentiating factors between each device, including ease of use, roasting time, capacity, features, and of course, price.
We’ll look at some of our favorite devices on the market and evaluate their strengths so you can determine which one will find a place in your home.
Coffee beans are deceptively fragile. Technically speaking, they begin to deteriorate soon after roasting—though probably not noticeably. However, after they’ve been left to sit for five days, some of the coffee beans’ aromatic qualities begin to fade away. Home roasting in smaller batches prevents that degradation, simply by the roaster producing just enough high-quality beans to last through the drinking cycle.
Creativity is another great reason people are turning to home roasters. Every coffee bean has a distinctive flavor profile, marked by subtle differences in taste, body, and accents. With a home roaster, coffee drinkers can experiment with different blends for a wide spectrum of tastes. Just like those who brew their own beer, home coffee roasters can tinker with basic roasting formulas to create blends with their own personal stamp.
Several machines on the market make home coffee roasting possible for anyone who wants to try it—but, like coffee beans themselves, there are a lot of differentiating factors between each device, including ease of use, roasting time, capacity, features, and of course price. We’ll look at eight of our favorite devices on the market and evaluate their strengths so you can determine which one will find a place in your home.
At A Glance: Our Top Picks for Home Coffee Roasters
The Top Home Coffee Roasters
Fresh Roast is the most ubiquitous manufacturer of coffee roasters: They’ve produced several different models over the years for generations of home roasting fans. The SR540 is their latest consumer-oriented model, and it’s probably the most foolproof of all the brands we tried, especially for newcomers to the coffee roast process.
The SR540 is a fluid-bed roaster that consists of a heavy base with all the controls, a tough plastic roasting cup that can handle up to five ounces of green beans (though you might want to limit it to four), and a cap that not only keeps each green bean from flying out but filters out the chaff and residue that collects during the roasting process.
The SR540 makes the roasting cycle as manageable as possible—not quite 100% automatic, but fairly easily controlled. The panel features one dial with which you adjust everything about your roast: time, roast level and fan speed.
One big advantage of this dial is that it allows the user to set different roast levels on a scale of 1 to 9; previous Fresh Roast models offered a maximum of three different levels. Fan speeds and temperature levels during roasting all go through this dial, so making in-process adjustments is relatively simple.
The electronic display consists of four LCD digits, which rather neatly correspond to different functions: the first digit displays the fan speed, the second the temperature of the roast, and the final two the total amount of time left. If you quickly twist the knob, the LCD display shows the hot air temperature inside the roasting apparatus.
EASE OF USE
The SR540 is as close to automatic as consumer-level roasters can get. The dial controls almost all adjustments during the roast, including temperature, fan and agitation speed, and time. You can’t depend on the thermostat and digital readouts all the time—but you can’t do that with any other brand either. Rating: 5.
The controls make changing the time, heat and speed easy and tend to forgive new users as much as possible. You have to know what you want to do before you go in, so it’ll take some trial and error for newbies. But again, that’s more than most other brands offer. Rating: 5.
The maximum advised amount of beans the SR540 can handle is five ounces, but four is optimal. That will leave a lot of room in the roasting chamber, but you’ll need it for the agitation process. Rating: 4.
The single-knob dial functionality and the nine different roast settings are great. So is the locking in of the roast chamber into the base—no wobbling or looseness here—and the cap, which doubles as a guard and an excess gunk filter. Rating: 5
VALUE FOR PRICE
Retailing for $189.00 on major e-tail websites, with a one-year warranty on the base, and six months for the other components, the SR540’s competitively priced. The fairly brief warranty period raises some concerns about the device’s shelf life. Rating: 3.
Dyvee Coffee Roaster – Best Option for Gas Stoves
The Dyvee Coffee Roaster is gas operated and has a design different from an electric roasting device. It is made with 304-stainless steel construction, proven to be durable and food-grade. You don’t have to worry about harmful compounds when roasting, even when extreme heat is involved.
The quartz glass drum is also durable and unbreakable. It is glass and transparent, so you can watch the entire roasting process. This makes it much easier to monitor the color of your coffee beans and eliminates the guessing game.
Although this coffee bean roaster machine is gas-powered, it still allows for automatic coffee turning. Its 12V DC motor works efficiently and ensures uniformity during the roasting process. It is also safer than other motor types.
EASE OF USE
This is a small stovetop coffee roaster that you can use on a kitchen stove or gas burner using direct heating. It is also easy to clean and maintain. Simply loosen the screws on the cover, remove the glass to wash it, and let it dry before you reassemble the roaster. Remember that this coffee roaster doesn’t come with a separate burner or thermometer to monitor the temperature. Rating: 5.
The real flexibility for this best coffee roaster comes from the fact that it can be used on a gas burner or the kitchen stove. Either way, you can roast your beans at a higher temperature faster while also having the chance to roast things other than coffee beans, like sunflower seeds, peanuts, chestnuts, and barley. Rating: 4.
The glass drum has a good capacity and can hold 400 grams. Once the beans are roasted, they can make 48 cups of coffee. While the roaster is a stovetop coffee roaster, it is still big enough to yield a good amount of coffee, but you want to work in small batches for the best results and perfect roasting. Rating: 4.
One of the most impressive features of this stovetop coffee roaster is its design. It is made with durable stainless steel and quartz that can withstand higher temperatures. However, it lacks many of the other more luxury features you will find with other coffee roasters. The drum of this coffee roaster also has a wooden handle, so you can handle it easily without burning yourself. It is also an ergonomically shaped handle that ensures comfort when using the device.
The roaster doesn’t have a timer, so you will need to pay close attention during the roasting process. If you are a beginner, you may find it more difficult to monitor the time and temperature. The standard roasting time with this roaster is 8 to 20 minutes, but this also depends on the heat you use. Rating: 3.
VALUE FOR PRICE
Considering that you have to purchase the gas burner separately along with a thermometer and timer, you may not find the price as affordable as you want. However, if you plan on using your gas stove at home, you can eliminate some of the extra expense and will be left with a stovetop coffee roaster you will love and find easy to use. Rating: 3.
KALDI Home Coffee Roaster – Ideal for Coffee Aficionados
The KALDI Home Coffee Roaster is a little intimidating—it seems to be made of a bunch of detachable parts, including a funnel we’re kind of afraid will get dropped. Out of all the products in this review, it’s probably the least suited for new recruits to the world of coffee roasting. But for the brave few who are a little more into their home-roasting journey, the drum-roasting KALDI may bring about huge rewards.
There’s nothing automatic about the KALDI—the user has total control over every mechanism and function, with no preset buttons to guide the way. You control every part of the process, from drum speed and temperature to process time.
The drum is extremely functional looking, with hundreds of round holes for ventilation and rotates a few inches above a vertical heating section along the bottom of the unit. Also, the KALDI requires a gas burner, which is not included and probably not the easiest accessory for new users.
It’s a little terrifying. But to be completely honest, for those who are already savvy enough in the process of home-roasting to where they can monitor everything closely, the KALDI produces some amazing roasts. If you’re a confirmed kitchen body whose interest in craft is elevated above your neighbors, the KALDI may become the centerpiece of your neighborhood coffee-making.
EASE OF USE
Strictly speaking, you have everything you need to roast great coffee beans with the KALDI—you’ll just have to do it all yourself. Also, the KALDI requires a gas burner, which comes separately. If you’re an old hand at this business, you probably aren’t reading this paragraph anyway. But if you’re not, then it’s a Rating: 2.
The KALDI is as flexible as you are because you call all the shots. However, once you’ve mastered the ins and outs of the roasting cycle, the KALDI can handle whatever you want. It’s also fairly quick with roasting cycles: its 10-to-15-minute range is admirable, but it’s using a lot of power. Rating: 4.
The KALDI can handle a whopping 10.5 ounces (300g) of coffee beans in one sitting. That’s 40 cups of coffee in a single batch. Of all the roasters we cover here, only the Behmor 1600 has more. Rating: 5.
There’s a bean funnel, an exhaust outlet (which you’ll need), and an adorable analog thermometer. The construction quality is excellent, but there’s nothing ready-made about this device. Rating: 4
VALUE FOR PRICE
For its price—not including the gas burner—the KALDI is for serious coffee makers only. If you’re just starting out in the coffee-making business, we’re not sure this is going to get you up and running right away. But the KALDI may be invaluable for already-skilled amateurs passionate about coffee roasting. The quality is unquestionable. Rating: 3.
The Jiawanshun is the most distinctive-looking entry in this list—it looks exactly like a crock-pot—and doesn’t have too much in the way of intuitive controls. It’s got an on/off button and a temperature dial. But its high capacity—and easy switchability between functions—makes it an intriguing option, especially given its capacity and price.
Operation of the Jiawanshun is easy: Put up to 14 ounces in the well (though we suggest never putting in more than 10), adjust the temperature to 240 degrees Celsius, and walk away. The time is a bit longer—at least 24 minutes for a light roast and upwards of 35 minutes for dark—and it’s a bit too simplistic for those who want to experiment with blends or different flavor profiles. But it gets the job done en masse.
The Jiawanshun expressly advertises itself as not just a coffee roaster—a quick look at its product page also says it can roast peanuts, soybeans and melon seeds—so its true value may reside in how many different things you use it for.
EASE OF USE
Extremely easy—just pour, set and click. You’ll be waiting a bit longer for dark roasts, but you’ll have a lot of time to catch up on your reading. Rating: 5.
If you’re talking about the different kinds of foods the Jiawanshun can roast, then it’s very flexible. But strictly for coffee roasters, outside of adjusting the temperature on the rotary dial, we’re just not sure how many variations one can get between light, city and dark roasts. This coffee roaster is good for a beginner or more expert coffee lover. It has a roaster and coffee bean cooler to meet all your needs. Rating: 3.
The Jiawanshun says it does up to 400 grams of green coffee beans comfortably. We’re not sure maxing out is a great idea, but it can handle a lot. Rating: 5.
Outside of its girth, there’s not much in the way of features for this coffee roasting machine besides an internal, blade-shaped agitator and temperature control. It looks like it could be easily confused with a slow cooker. This electric coffee roaster has a high capacity, is temperature adjustable, has a non-stick pan, and is multi-functional.
The temperature is adjustable for different degrees of coffee roasting. Since the top is transparent, you can also visualize the coffee beans during the entire roasting process. Rating: 4
VALUE FOR PRICE
The Jiawanshun retails for about $120 with a one-year warranty. If you are a serious coffee hound looking for a device that makes great roasts, you can find a more specialized, dedicated coffee roaster (albeit with much less capacity) for about the same price. But if you also have soybeans that need roasting, the Jiawanshun reports for duty. Rating: 3.
The BOCABOCA Coffee Bean Roaster is from Korea and is still a relatively new model, but it has amassed quite a reputation among coffee enthusiasts everywhere. It uses an infrared radiation heat source, which is definitely a feature that helps it stand out from its competition. Instead of a perforated steel drum like you find with many home coffee roasters, this one uses a glass drum.
With a glass drum, you can carefully observe each step of the coffee roasting process, and you can stay on top of the color of your roast. As the drum turns during roasting, you will find less debris released.
This home coffee bean roaster also features a built-in wicker cooling tray and a fan, allowing the beans to cool quickly and completely. There is no preset programming available for this home coffee roaster, so there is a bit of a learning curve, but once you get the hang of it, you will find it is easy to use as long as you follow the simple roasting instructions.
EASE OF USE
As long as you follow the instructions, it is easy to learn how to use this at home coffee roaster. It is also easy to clean as the glass roasting chamber drum can be removed. You will want to clean this roaster after every six to 10 roasts. It has a large capacity drum, so you can roast up to 200g of coffee at a time. Rating: 4.
There isn’t a whole lot of room for flexibility with this coffee roaster, but you will find that the beans are roasted evenly due to its specially designed stirring vane. Rating: 2.
The BOCABOCA coffee bean roaster is a large capacity roaster that can roast up to 200 grams at a time. You can also upgrade to the 500-gram roaster if you need more capacity. Rating: 4.
The cooling cycle takes about three minutes with the built-in wicker cooling tray. You will also find that when roasting, the coffee beans are evenly roasted thanks to its specially designed stirring vane. It also features an air control hole that can freely adjust the incense of the beans. It also operates quietly and provides consistent results. Rating: 4
VALUE FOR PRICE
Overall, this at home coffee roaster is on the higher end of the price spectrum, but it does have many features that make coffee enthusiasts happy, like the glass barrel that lets you watch the color of the roast. As with most roasters you find, you do have to have good ventilation when using the device indoors. Rating: 2.5
The JAVASTARR electric coffee roaster is ideal for home use and those who want to experience the coffee bean at its best. You can easily enjoy your coffee with just one touch. With its direct fire roasting, the heat is transferred directly to the raw coffee beans. This helps bring out the most authentic and original coffee taste.
Its power consumption is 1200 watts, and its voltage is 110 volts to 120 volts. The power cord length is 4.4 inches, which doesn’t offer a lot of leeway but works well on the countertop. This electric coffee roaster comes with a cleaning brush and measuring spoon.
EASE OF USE
Roasting coffee beans with this device is pretty straightforward, making it a perfect option for beginners. Simply fill it with your coffee beans, adjust it, and turn it on. You can select your desired roast level—dark or medium—and achieve more than consistent and uniform roast results each time.
The cooling mode will gently cool the beans after the roasting process. During the roasting process, the temperature slowly increases to a maximum of around 392°F or 200°C. This is done in different stages over a time period of between 25 and 30 minutes.
With this roaster, you can individually select your desired roast level—between light and dark—and achieve consistent results every time. Rating: 2.
This small coffee roaster has a capacity of 0.22 pounds. Each batch you roast will be on the smaller side, which is around two scoops. This makes slightly over one large pot of coffee per roasting cycle. Rating: 2.
Many features make this one of the best small coffee roasters for home use you can find. It has a convenient silverskin box that collects the silverskin. The hollow top cover makes it easier for moisture to evaporate and discharge, improving the roaster’s overall efficiency.
The machine’s body can also be removed by hand, making cleaning easy and convenient. You will find consistent and even heat dissipation, a non-stick bottom, and a visual lid, among its other features. Rating: 4.
VALUE FOR MONEY
This coffee roaster may be small, but it has great features that make it a good value for the money. It is easy to use with its one-button start and has convenient features, making the sorting process easier. It transfers heat directly to the raw coffee beans, producing an even roast and the best flavors. Rating: 4.
The remaining two coffee roasters on our list are not, by any stretch of the definition, automatic devices. One of them isn’t even technically designed to be a coffee roaster. But both of them are extremely popular and almost always come up in any conversation about home coffee roasting.
You read that right: One of the more ubiquitous coffee roasters out there is actually a well-beloved stovetop popcorn popper. Its suitability for coffee beans makes sense because the process of roasting coffee nearly duplicates that of making popcorn. The difference, of course, is that if you do it right, the beans won’t explode.
If the burden of LCD readouts, knob fidgeting, and restricted counter space gets you down, the Whirley Pop is your solution. Operation isn’t exactly simple, but it’s easily described: Put the coffee beans in the popper on a warm stove and crank the handle on the side to agitate the beans. You should have a mound of roasted coffee ready to grind within five to ten minutes.
Of course, there are drawbacks to this approach. For one thing, you can’t leave the popper unattended during the active roasting process. Using the Whirley Pop means up to 10 minutes of crank-turning. One must also be comfortable with either lacking the complex heating, roasting and cooling stages that automatic roasters provide or controlling them all yourself.
You have to regulate the temperature on your stovetop (which, it should be noted, needs to be gas—the process is almost uncontrollable on electricity). After 10 minutes of cranking, the user empties the contents into a colander and lets them cool—you’ll have no fans of which you can avail yourself. Finally, if you use a Whirley Pop for coffee, you probably shouldn’t ever use it for popcorn.
That said, some roasters with lots of experience with the Whirley Pop swear by it. If you have a lot of time and patience, why not?
EASE OF USE
It’s simple—put coffee beans in, turn a crank over heat for ten minutes—but that doesn’t make it “easy.” You must control and adjust the temperature with no gadgets whatsoever. Rating: 3.
The user must maintain total control over everything and must have a gas stove to make it work. That adds up to a pretty inflexible process. Also, creating degrees of various roasts, from light and dark and everything in between, will take lots of trial and error. Rating: 3.
The good news is that the Whirley Pop can handle a large amount of beans—eight ounces is probably the ideal maximum. Rating: 4.
It has a crank and a flip-top. Rating: 2.
VALUE FOR PRICE
Depending on the materials used and their relative durability, you can purchase a Whirley Pop for between $22 and $90. So it might be a treat for the ultimate, do-it-pretty-much-all-yourself coffee roaster. Rating: 3.
Unlike the Whirley Pop, the Nuvo Eco is a stovetop device specifically made for roasting coffee beans. It has a couple of obvious drawbacks compared to the automatic machines on our list: name, limited capacity and total manual operation (there’s not even a crank). The good part? Many home coffee roasters absolutely love it. And, low yield noted, it can make a great roast.
The Nuvo Eco is a handheld, ceramic receptacle resembling an oversized, alternative smoking pipe. It’s a shade over 9.5 inches long, with a roasting receptacle that can handle around 1 to 2.4 ounces of coffee beans at a time. That makes for a total yield of two, maybe three cups of coffee, so one roasting event is pretty much limited to your daily morning coffee regimen.
The Nuvo Eco is 100% manual: Place the beans in the “pot,” heat up a stovetop, and shake your roaster constantly for about 10 minutes. More attentive roasters will adjust the temperature on the stovetop as needed for each stage. The unit has a leather handle to keep your hand from getting burned.
It’s totally manual, which means there are elbow-grease and trial-and-error components that are nearly inescapable. But the upshot is that the Nuvo Eco is easy to learn how to use and can be stored easily in a counter drawer. You can also take it with you to the campgrounds for roasting over an open flame.
EASE OF USE
You have to constantly shake it for 10 minutes and keep a strict eye on the temperature. So, like the Whirley Pop: simple to learn, not so easy to execute. Rating: 3.
You run the whole show with the Nuvo Eco. Cooling takes place in a colander, just like the Whirley Pop. However, you can use an electric stovetop with the Nuvo Eco since you’re shaking it above the range and can just move it up and down for temp control Rating: 3.
Not much at all in the way of the volume of product, but it’s good quality. Rating: 3.
It has a leather handle and looks like something Hobbits use for entertainment. The ceramic construction is great for heat conduction, though. Rating: 3
VALUE FOR PRICE
It retails for $30. But it’s ultra-compact, cleans up well, and commands the adoration of a lot of regular home coffee roasters. If you don’t drink a gallon of coffee per day and aren’t worried about having total manual control over the process, you might seriously consider grabbing the Nuvo Eco. Rating: 3.
Facts About Home Coffee Roasting
Green coffee beans are usually about $1 to $3 less per pound than pre-roasted beans. They’re even, ultimately, cheaper than national store-bought ground coffee brands. An 11-ounce can that retails at around $4.10 works out to about $7 of beans per pound, while your average one-pound bag of green coffee beans costs around $6.
Taste is relative, but many coffee lovers believe the best-tasting coffee in the world comes from Colombia, which supplies almost 15% of the world’s coffee. Central American countries, especially Guatemala and Costa Rica, Ethiopia and Jamaica, also produce coffee beans that are a shade above the rest of the world.
What to Look for in the Best Home Coffee Roasters
There’s a reason why home coffee drinkers have traditionally relied on the expertise of others for roasting their beans: It wasn’t easy. Commercial coffee roasters handle big batches of beans, and their premises have to have the capacity to roast coffee on a fairly large scale. That means the devoted coffee drinker has to rely on their recipes and timetable, which doesn’t always lead to a superior final product.
Someone purchasing the best home coffee roaster wants to replicate that process at home as easily as possible. They’re discriminating regarding superior coffee when it’s coming out of their coffee maker, or they want to learn about making blends they’ll enjoy more.
Those new to home coffee roasting also want a product that fits their learning curve, whether it’s relatively automatic or has room for a little elbow grease. Dependability is also a big factor: An automatic roaster may be extremely convenient, but it stops being so if it has a shorter life span that might require more handholding.
Coffee roasters come in a huge variety of shapes, sizes, functionality and retail prices. It’s not always easy to tell the differences between them, and a little difficult to compare products with such a wide range of qualities, even if they all do the same basic thing. To compare each of our favorite coffee roasters, we use five different criteria:
Ease of Use
Every coffee roaster has a certain degree of monitoring—there’s not really a “set-it-and-forget-it” device that makes perfect roasted coffee beans every time. But each one has a different level of user input.
Some of them have their own heating and cooling units and just require the push of a few buttons and some general oversight. Others have to go on stovetops, and some require the user to turn a crank—but they’re more easily controlled. “Ease of use,” in our judgment, is a combination of how much thought and effort goes into every batch of your roast and how valuable the roaster’s automatic features actually end up being.
Coffee roasting goes through a very specific set of phases, from light to dark roasts. Some machines are more amenable to your devising your own blends and flavors. How well a roaster can handle different kinds of blends, shades, and qualities is a big factor in its evaluation.
Some coffee drinkers go through a relatively large amount of coffee in a short period. Others are more reserved and drink less. But one suggestion is the same for all types of coffee fans: You should never roast more coffee than you’re prepared to consume for five days. Our “yield” factor is based on two criteria: how much a roaster can handle every time it’s used and how well each yield turns out.
Coffee roasters run the gamut regarding how much they can do. Some have automatic heating and cooling cycles; others have a variety of attachments and supplemental tools, and many have timers built in to monitor progress and switch between cycles.
Sometimes a whole bevy of features can be useful; other times, they give the user a false sense of security that the technology will get every roasting session right. When evaluating the features of each roaster, we also try to decide how valuable that feature is.
Value for Price
The bottom-line question, of course, is whether a home coffee roaster is worth the expense. The retail price range is all over the map, from $30 “manual” coffee roasters to thousands of dollars for high-capacity automatic ones. We judge how well each home coffee roaster pays back the user’s expense—in both money and effort.
Coffee roasters are unusual appliances because they come in sizes, shapes, and complexities for every level of expertise and interest in the fine art of coffee roasting. So whether a certain machine is right depends largely on how much coffee you drink and whether you prefer a consistent roast every time or enjoy experimenting with your custom blends.
Becoming a master roaster with one of these devices takes a lot of time and patience, but we’re certain it’s worth the effort.
FAQs About Home Coffee Roasting
How long does it take to roast coffee at home?
The time differs according to how dark you want your beans to get and how many you’re roasting, but generally between 10 minutes for smaller amounts and 18 for larger ones.
What are the different stages of roasting coffee?
The first stage is drying. Coffee beans have a fairly high percentage of humidity, up to 12%, so the initial phase dries them out and prepares them for the energy-consuming final stage.
The browning stage changes the beans’ greenish tint to a more burnt-yellow color. It’s also when the bean starts to develop its individual character and flavors. This phase is also called the “first crack” because you’ll actually hear the beans start to pop when it happens.
Some roasters stop not long after this phase if they’re shooting for a lighter color. The roasting stage is slower than the stages before it, allowing the beans to build deep aromas.
Roasters might hear a “second crack” at this point as the internal oils of the beans start to appear on the outside. This is a phase that those who prefer dark roasts usually get to. The final stage is the cool-down of the beans, which is just as it sounds.
What’s the difference between “drum” and “fluid bed” roasters?
Drum roasters, which are the more traditional, widely used kind, simply hold the beans in a vat and heat them via conduction from underneath the drum. Fluid beds, which first came onto the scene in the 1970s, are more cylindrical in shape and heat the coffee beans by convection: pushing hot air through the beans rather than on top of a stove.
Where do I get green coffee beans?
If you live in a major urban area, you might find green beans available at your friendly neighborhood local coffee roasters. If you live in a smaller town, you have less luck finding a provider with a decent selection, but you should be able to order them from online companies and have them delivered straight to your home.