April 6, 2017

Everything You Need for a Home Roaster Starter Kit


There’s nothing quite like roasting your own beans at home. You get to enjoy the smell of fresh-roasted coffee wafting through your home, and the satisfaction of drinking beans you roasted yourself, to your own preferences.

What’s more, you’ll discover all the notes and flavours you can bring out in a coffee. You’ll find the differences between origins, altitudes, varietals, processing methods, your roast profiles, and more. And this will push you even further.

So if you’re ready to begin home roasting, I’m here to help you out by sharing the essential items you need to buy. Note: there is one more you’ll need that’s not listed here, but you can’t buy it. And that’s because your five senses are key for developing your craft. The rest, though, you can add to an online shopping cart right now. Let’s get started!

Spanish Version: Todo lo que Necesitas para Comenzar a Tostar Café en Casa

behmor roaster

A starter roasting kit ready to use. Credit: Jason G.

1. A Sample Roaster

You have a few different options here, depending on how much you want to spend and what features you’d like.

Some people like to start with a popcorn machine or even give pan roasting a go. These are inexpensive options that won’t give you a lot of control over your roast, but will provide some insight into how the beans react to heat. Once you know you’re committed to roasting, and it’s not just a fad, you can then upgrade.

If or when you’re looking for something with a little more potential, you need a home roaster. These will allow you to control the temperature and time of your roast, as well as offering additional functions.

Take the Behmor 1600 Plus, for example: it’s an affordable machine that allows you to roast up to a pound of coffee, provides pre-set profiles for particular bean types as well as the ability to overwrite them, and has smoke suppression technology. Having been designed for coffee rather than for popcorn, it has a built-in cooling period and a drum that ensures even roasting.

behmor roaster

Home roasting? It can be a fun new hobby! Credit: Brian Kendall

2. Green Beans

You can’t roast coffee without the beans! But remember that they’re not all the same. If you’re at the stage where you want to start home roasting, no doubt you’re aware of the impact of origin, varietal, production practices, processing methods, and more on the flavour. But these also affect the roast profile you need to use.

For example, Bean density is affected by multiple factors – the most easy-to-measure one being altitude. Denser beans generally have better flavour development, and because they’re denser they absorb heat differently. Use too low a charge temperature and they’ll bake. However, use too high a temperature on soft beans, and they’ll scorch.

Fortunately, you can recognise density by looking at the green bean’s centre line. The more open it is, the softer the bean. Alternatively, to compare different beans, you can try this cheap DIY hack.

There are several books and online sources for information like this. Certain home roasters will also come with different set profiles, so you can ease your way into roast profile manipulation.

coffee roasting

Get to know your green beans before you roast them. Credit: roastworks.coffee.co

3. A Scale

Scales aren’t just necessary for brewing. So if you don’t have one yet, get it ASAP. It’ll allow you to measure the weight of both your green and roasted beans – letting you know both how much you’re roasting and how much weight your beans are losing in the roast.

coffee beans

Scales: not just for brewing coffee! Credit: friedricebanzai

4. A Cooling Tray or Colander

This one is only necessary if your roaster doesn’t come with a cooling tray. Since your beans will continue reacting to the heat even after the roast has finished, it’s important to bring down internal temperature as quickly as possible.

Some home roasters already have cooling trays and phases built in. But if yours doesn’t, purchase a tray or colander. It won’t be as reliable, but it’s the next best thing.

home roasting

Cool your roasted beans quickly to avoid post-roast development. Credit: Mark Headrick

SEE ALSO: Jen Apodaca: How to Improve Your Roasting Skills

5. Coffee Bags/Airtight Jars

After the cool down phase, your beans will need to degas. There are many different opinions on how long this takes: Sweet Maria’s recommends 8–12 hours, while other people say 24 hours or even longer.

How you store your beans will also impact their shelf life. Keep your coffee in resealable and, preferably, one-way valve bags to protect them from light, moisture, heat and air. Another good option is an airtight jar, so you can reuse it. Just make sure the jar is in good condition and that you keep the beans out of the light. Otherwise your coffee will quickly become stale.

coffee bags

Good storage will keep your beans fresh for longer. Credit: Jeremy and Farrah

6. Roasting Log/Notebook

Want to know your coffee is going to taste the same way every time? Or to work out why you’re getting unpleasant notes or defects – and how to change it? Then you need to keep a roast log.

You can use the same beans, and the same roaster, and the same basic parameters for each roast. But there are some variables you can only control and replicate if you have a record of them.

coffee roasting

Record everything so you can replicate your roasts. Credit: Risteriet Coffee

Home roasting is a wonderful experience. It will transform your relationship with coffee – and, for some, it may even be the start of a new career! So if you’re feeling even just a little bit curious about it, pick up the items on this list – or, for the first time, borrow a friend’s – and give it a try.

Perfect Daily Grind

Please note: Behmor is a sponsor of Perfect Daily Grind. Perfect Daily Grind is not affiliated with any of the other individuals or bodies mentioned in this article, and cannot directly endorse them.

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