A Guide to Coffee Roasting Machines
Coffee roasting machines were originally developed in industrial sizes to help restaurants roast their own coffee, but have more recently started to appear in smaller sizes for home use. Whilst it is possible to roast your own coffee using an stove top or even a popcorn popper, a coffee roasting machine offers the advantage of being able to control how dark or light the roast is, giving you much more control of the overall flavor.
Roasting Coffee at Home Without a Coffee Roasting Machine
However you do it, roasting green coffee beans at home gives you much fresher coffee than commercially roast beans, which are often months old by the time they reach the supermarket checkout. Green coffee beans are also cheaper to buy than their already roasted equivalents.
Roasting coffee beans in a saucepan on top of the stove is the simplest way to do it. The drawback is that it is impossible to get an even roast just by stirring the beans. A hot air popcorn popper produces slightly better results, but roasting coffee beans requires more heat than popping popcorn, which can put a strain on the popper's heating element.
Commercial Coffee Roasting Machines
There is a wide variety of coffee roasting machines on the market, ranging in price from $80 to almost $1000. They work on the same principle as the popcorn popper, blowing hot air onto the beans, but have a timer, temperature control and a device to collect the chaff.
Among the most popular coffee roasting devices are the inexpensive FreshRoast Plus 8, which can roast a cup of coffee in 10 minutes and the much more high end HotTop drum roaster, which can roast up to 9 ounces of beans at a time. The HotTop has a window in the side, so that you can watch your beans roasting.
Home Made Coffee Roasting Machines
For hobbyists who are serious about coffee roasting, it is possible to build your own coffee roasting machine. Home made coffee roasting machines have been built using barbecue gas grills, bread making machines and all sorts of other heating devices. Inventor David Hartkop, aided by his brother Mike, has even created a solar powered coffee roasting machine for the environmentally conscious coffee roaster.
The basic elements that all the home made coffee roasting machines have in common are a heating element capable of heating the beans up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit, a rotating drum to move the beans around (perforated to allow the chaff to filter out) and some sort of cooling device such as a fan to cool the beans once they have finished roasting. The website of the green coffee bean supplier Sweet Maria's has an extensive collection of links to sites detailing how various coffee roasters built their home made coffee roasting machines. It is well worth a look if you want do go down that road.