Roasting Machine: Affordable, Capacious, Simple - Want All Three

Recommendations for espresso equipment buyers and upgraders.
jyl

Postby jyl » Mar 17, 2019, 4:57 am

I'm thinking about home roasting. This is only partly because I want a new hobby. The other and possibly primary reason is to save money.

We have four in my household, all are active coffee drinkers, we're going through over 2 lb of beans a week. Which is like $40/week even if I only bought fairly pedestrian, grocery store level beans. In the other hand, my friend is a small commercial roaster and will sell me green beans at a very good price, about 1/4 that price.

I am trying to figure out which home roasting machine I can get that fits my budget - since I'm whinging about $40/week you can surmise I do have budget limitations - and consumption.

A machine that only roasts 250 g would have me roasting 4-5 times a week. That seems like it would get to be too much like work ;-) 500-600 g might be more convenient.

Is there a home roasting machine that is pretty affordable, can roast 2+ lb/week without failing prematurely, and allows a fairly automated process?

On the last point - while I may have ambitions of being experimental and artisanal, my normal tendency is after I get to a certain familiarity with a recurrent thing, I switch to production mode. At some point I'm going to want to simply dump beans in and push a button, then do something else - cook dinner etc - rather than closely monitor and manually control the process.
John, Portland OR
Vintage bicycles, Porsche/VW, cooking, old houses.

maxbmello

Postby maxbmello » Mar 17, 2019, 9:04 am

What budget did you have in mind? "Affordable" is pretty ambiguous. If we know how much you are willing to spend, recommendations will make more sense for you.

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Jake_G
Team HB

Postby Jake_G » Mar 17, 2019, 11:19 am

Heat Gun Bread Machine.

This will let you know whether or not home roasting is for you with a nearly nonexistent entry price.

Cheers!

- Jake

happycat

Postby happycat » Mar 17, 2019, 11:33 am

You can do a few batches in a row... not multiple times per week. Only one warmup that way.

You can also get green coffee far cheaper than you seem to be suggesting, especially if you buy in 5, 10, 20lb bags.

You can automate a larger roaster but you need to set it up with thermal probes and some free computer software. You can also buy a PID box to run it without a computer, but a computer shows graphs that make it easy to see what's going on.

I don't recommend the product, but maybe do some research on a Behmor.
LMWDP #603

jyl

Postby jyl » Mar 17, 2019, 11:39 am

Sorry!

I am hoping to buy something used (my typical practice) and repair / restore it (my preferred practice) and spend no more than $500.

Seems home roasting could potentially save me close to $1,000/year so I could justify spending more. My powers of self justification are well developed. When I add in the benefits of better coffee, more family togetherness, all the money I've saved by not buying a boat, having an affair, or developing a gambling habit, and throw in economic and social justice, and saving the planet, I can potentially justify multiple thousands of $! To myself. Multiply by 0.25 to estimate justification effectiveness on my wife. If her girlfriends support me, potentially 0.50.
John, Portland OR
Vintage bicycles, Porsche/VW, cooking, old houses.

jyl

Postby jyl » Mar 17, 2019, 2:46 pm

Jake_G wrote:Heat Gun Bread Machine.

This will let you know whether or not home roasting is for you with a nearly nonexistent entry price.

Cheers!

- Jake


Oh! I have a heat gun. And a never-used bread machine. This sounds like a good project!
John, Portland OR
Vintage bicycles, Porsche/VW, cooking, old houses.

Jasper_8137

Postby Jasper_8137 » Mar 17, 2019, 2:54 pm

You can also try a stir crazy turbo oven. Typically you can find all necessary parts at a thrift store and build it for under $50. There is a lot of information online about making one. This is another good way to start roasting cheaply to see if it's something you like.

Jasper_8137

Postby Jasper_8137 » Mar 17, 2019, 3:00 pm

Also, regarding "automated roasters", you really have to monitor all roasters closely to make sure the roast comes out how you want it and so you don't start a fire and burn down wherever you're roasting!

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mckolit

Postby mckolit » Mar 17, 2019, 3:15 pm

I have a Behmor and it seems like it would fit your needs. You push buttons to set your roast, is rated for 1 pound batches, but 12 ounces is more in its sweet spot. Although not hands free, you should never leave your roasts, you can do other things in the same room. If you have a good enough ventilation system, you can have it in your kitchen so you can cook while you roast. You can easily do 3 batches in an hour and be set for the week. And brand new they're in your price range. I have mine in the garage and can do stuff in there while roasting.

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spromance

Postby spromance » Mar 17, 2019, 3:39 pm

jyl wrote:I'm thinking about home roasting. This is only partly because I want a new hobby. The other and possibly primary reason is to save money...I am hoping to buy something used...and spend no more than $500.

*(emphasis added)

Just my $0.02 (as someone whose favorite part about the general coffee hobby, is the 'sub-hobby' of roasting), I'd have a hard time recommending you dive in if you're not really looking for another hobby. I guess the main factor at play is how important the quality of coffee is to you? i.e. are you hoping to match the quality of coffee you're spending $40/week on? ($20/lb coffee sounds like pretty darn good coffee to begin with)

I'm not saying you can't match that quality with affordable equipment...but back to the non-hobby issue, part of learning to roast to your satisfaction likely will involve lots of failed/poor roasts. Someone driven by the love of the hobby might learn to live with all the 'bad' roasts until it all starts clicking for them, but if you're just wanting to substitute having to pay $40/week for quality, roasted coffee, I guess I'd want to fire out a fair warning that you might find yourself even more frustrated if you spend $500 and then hate what you're 'forcing yourself to drink' as you progress on the learning curve, because of having to justify your initial roasting gear expenditure.

Fwiw, I started roasting 4 years ago to 'save money.' Like many of us have done with espresso gear, trust me when I say I have spent FAR more than I ever expected to on my roasting setup/equipment (home-built electric) as it has evolved. Here's the upside: do I regret having spent hundreds, maybe a thousand (I'd need to add it up), on modifying/upgrading/overhauling my setup to suit my needs as I developed as a roaster? Not at all. Happily, I ended up falling in love with roasting as a hobby and it's all good now. But, yes, it was way more costly (some money, and LOTS of time) than I ever anticipated.

Not trying to be a scrooge though! I think lots of the advice above is really good: try out a low cost option first to just see if you really do/don't want to involve yourself in another 'coffee process' in life. If you find it worth your time (and money), you can always spend more. But, if you're not getting results close to your desires/expectations, you can just abandon ship without too much sunk cost. Good luck!

P.S.: what roasters / style of coffee do you prefer to drink right now?