Intro to Home Coffee Roasting

home coffee roasting primers from BCT

Are you considering taking up a new hobby in home coffee roasting? This article is a great place to start! Are you ready to roast your first batch? “Home Roasting for Beginners” is the one that you want!

What is Home Coffee Roasting?

Roasting coffee at home is much easier than you might think! There are 3 big benefits:

  1. Fresh coffee tastes better! Unroasted coffee beans stay fresh for a year or more, and require no refrigeration
  2. Green coffee beans are much cheaper, so you can purchase larger amounts of your favorite specialty top lots and treat your friends!
  3. A much more diverse and superb selection of raw coffee beans – far beyond the limited and often already-stale bagged coffees that we find in supermarkets – makes for many opportunities to discover exciting and exotic new flavors!

Many coffee connoisseurs view home roasting as the next level of their love for this “magic bean” – a passionate hobby and daily ritual of close attention and appreciation of nuanced aromas and flavors. A wide spectrum of roast styles can draw different flavor notes out of every freshly roasted batch, and you can taste a different cup every day if you like – more and more people are excited to embark on the flavor adventures of home coffee roasting!

If you would like to roast your own coffee at home, you can get started with only 3 things:

1. Green (unroasted) Coffee Beans

Ethiopean Natural Coffee Beans
Green Coffee Beans

The world of coffee is huge. Cultivated in 50 nations, with often thousands of farms in each, today’s coffee selections encompass nearly 40 strains of Arabica, plus new hybrids and undocumented varietals being discovered every day. Different processing methods produce very different beans to suit everyone’s varied tastes, and the possibilities in your morning cup can be quite infinite!


2. Heat

Heat is essential to roasting coffee. Target internal temperature for roasted beans ranges from about 390-460F, so usually folks use heat sources that go above 450F. This means that there are many options for heating your beans!

roasting coffee in large pan
Roasting coffee in a large pan is much easier on a
gas burner, but even an electric range can suffice –
stir, stir, stir!
finished roasting
Roasted beans go into an open container for a
few days of “set-up”

3. Something to Roast On or In

Parts 1 & 2 are easy, but the challenge lies in roasting your beans evenly without scorching any of them. Fortunately, there are numerous simple and low-tech methods.

Most Americans do not realize that in past generations nearly everyone was a home-roaster! In the 19th century nobody was selling roasted coffee in plastic bags, only green coffee by the pound (just like we still do today!). You can roast your coffee the old-fashioned way too – simply place the beans in any sturdy metal container and set it over/in a flame (in the old days, this may have meant shaking beans in a soup can over a campfire); stir and mix well throughout the duration of the roast. When it is roasted dark enough for your taste (and before it is on fire), remove from heat and cool by shaking in a strainer or placing in front of a fan.

Feeling a little silly roasting your coffee in a soup can? Many find that non-stick pots and pans work well, with heavy cast iron favored because it can be preheated and roast much faster. Mixing is the key with these methods – stir very often, almost constantly. Don’t worry too much if it gets a little smoky, that is normal (but you may need to stir faster!).

Some folks get tired of so much stirring – a Whirley Pop can help with that. Or in the oven, perforated trays produce the least scorching.

For those uninterested in playing with fire, electrical automatic heating devices drastically reduce the amount of work and attention required. Some use old popcorn poppers, rotisserie ovens, electric woks, etc. These devices are rarely advertised as coffee roasting tools, but a quick google or youtube search can yield loads of successful roaster hacks and other creative ideas that make home coffee roasting accessible to all.

Please note that you may need to modify these appliances, adding a thermometer to monitor the roasting temperature. There are also some special procedures and limitations to these methods. If you want to experiment we advise getting a good book on Home Coffee Roasting like the one by Kenneth Davids. He has some detailed tips on making the most of various roaster hacks.

FreshRoast SR500 Electronic Roaster
Fresh Roast SR500 Electronic Roaster

All-in-One: Home Coffee Roasters

For those whose home coffee roasting experience is focused on the luxury of that perfect cup or on the fulfillment that comes with mastery of new skills, consider investing in specially designed counter-top Home Coffee Roasters. We have affordable and easy family-size machines for beginners, and for hardcore coffee fanatics we have powerful and elegant semi-pro machines that can be used at home or as small commercial units. There are two types of roasters:

Fluid Bed Roasters such as the FreshRoast SR models are similar in design to hot-air popcorn poppers. They have a glass roasting chamber that allows you to watch and stop the cycle when beans reach the desired roast level. These popular roasters are very economical, lower priced and able to roast a modest batch in a speedy 7-20 minutes, and they are easy to clean and maintain.

The new Nesco Home Roaster is super-simplified and affordable even on a tight budget, ideal for those who are curious to try home roasting without too much investment of time or money.

Drum Roasters such as the Behmor 1600 Plus and the  Gene Café Roasters have a rotating screen drum that tumbles the beans as they are roasting. These models allow larger batches and roast beans more evenly and consistently, and they give more control over the entire process than the simple fluid bed roasters.

All of the home roasting equipment carried at Burman Coffee Traders is top quality, just different volumes and mechanisms to suit different needs. Please keep in mind that just because it costs more and looks fancier, that doesn’t necessarily mean your cup of coffee will be better. In every roast, the most important ingredients are the beans and the roastmaster – YOU!

For beginners, we recommend the easy and affordable FreshRoast SR540 – if you are considering buying a new roaster, please read our guide to using the SR540 and watch the video demo.

An important note about “set-up”:

Please remember that regardless of what roasting method you choose, freshly roasted beans will be at their peak of flavor only after they have “set-up” for a day or more. Read our primer about roasting styles to learn more.

Are you ready to begin your home-roasting adventure? Read more here!

Want to learn more about Green Coffee before diving in? Follow these links:

What is Green Coffee? What are Green Coffee Beans?

Understanding the Taste Characteristics of Good Coffee: How do Burman Coffee Traders evaluate coffee beans from growers all across the world? What are the characteristics we use to judge quality and how do we ensure a wide variety to suit many different tastes?

Choosing Premium Green Coffees: Our recommendations for beginning to explore our diverse selection: 3 lb Bundles and Sales.

Learn How to Use a Home Coffee Roaster

Learn what to expect from different roast levels and the wide Spectrum of Roast Styles

Learn how the terroirs of Growing Regions, specific Strains or Cultivars, and the Processing Methods used after harvesting – all affect the taste and roast characteristics of each unique green coffee.

Ready to get started?


    • No need to wash them. They have already been washed multiple times to remove the fruit and etc. The roasting process effectively sterilizes them, so no need to worry about bacteria or anything like that. Happy roasting!!

  1. My cafe roaster seems too hot at the temps listed in the manual, coffee comes out much darker than stated. What do you suggest

    • One can look at it two different ways. To get a lighter roast, one can reduce temps by a bit and keep the same roast time, or one can reduce roast time and hit the cool button before it gets darker than you like. Temps and roast times are variable, the manual talks about averages but some may get quicker roast times, others slower roast times.

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