Help choosing home roaster

Discuss roast levels and profiles for espresso, equipment for roasting coffee.

Postby gouzosara » May 13, 2018, 5:49 am

Hello, fellow roasters. I think I need your help.

I have been using a popcorn machine with pretty good results. What I don't like is the speed at which you go from first crack to second. Also I am not so convinced that air can produce as good results as a drum.

Also please note I am on a budget. (Under 350$).

I've done my homework, but still have some questions:

Are air roasters glorified popcorn machines?
The Gene roaster seems too elaborate to be called that, but still I wonder whether I have to go to a drum to be worth a change.

Why can't the Behmor do dark? Can't you just roast a further couple of minutes?

Is the Nesco really convection with a fan for the chaff? Sweet Maria claims that that's what it is, while others say it is an air roaster.

Can you get an even roast with something manual like the Boca Boca?

Is a used Alpenröst what I'm looking for?



Postby renatoa » May 13, 2018, 6:32 am

"What I don't like is the speed at which you go from first crack to second."
This suggest your popcorn machine heater is not controlled, and in this case you make false judgments about the capabilities of such machines.

"Also I am not so convinced that air can produce as good results as a drum."
The question is if you really know what make a roaster a drum roaster...
Anything smaller than 1 kg without a solid drum of at least 3mm thick wall is actually just a hot air machine using the drum for mixing purposes.

"Are air roasters glorified popcorn machines?"
The real question is if you know how elaborated a well done popcorn machine can be, to roast correctly...
Gene IS an air roaster, not a drum roaster.

"Why can't the Behmor do dark? Can't you just roast a further couple of minutes?"
This remind me the funny Tchibo ad running here in Europe "roasted three times longer for more intense aroma..."
The length of a roast is not so flexible as you think.

"Is the Nesco really convection with a fan for the chaff? Sweet Maria claims that that's what it is, while others say it is an air roaster."
Yes, exactly this is what it is, the others probably call "air roaster" only the machines where the beans are floating in the airflow.

"Can you get an even roast with something manual like the Boca Boca?"
Yes, roasting evenness does not imply rotation evenness too, it can have some degree of random.

"Is a used Alpenröst what I'm looking for?"
Could be, if you are happy with capacity, and understand/accept the limits of control you have.


Postby gouzosara » May 13, 2018, 7:12 am

First of all, thank for the reply.

A couple of answers and/or clarifications:

My machine seems OK. The times I get are more or less what others post too. It just seems you have to be very quick to stop it and there not much room for error, if you want to have repeatability.

I know that you can highly modify a popcorn machine, that's just not something I am interested in. I certainly don't underestimate such machines.

My motive was my couriosity about drum machines, but you are right: I am not sure about that. Any views regarding air vs. drum (yes, I mean with convection, not just as a stirring method) would be very welcome.

Yes, I know the Gene is an air roaster. I mentioned it as an example of a machine which, even though an air roaster, can definitely not be called a glorified popper.

Regarding Behmor, I was asking because, I often read the critisism, that you can only go up to light/medium roast and I cannot understand why that would be.

Basically I tend to regard air roasters (like the Imex or the Fresh roast) as poppers with extra convenience and drum roasters as something different, not sure if necessarily better. I probably wouldn't upgrade just for convenience. But that was my motive for asking. You mentioned drum thickness etc. Is that true? Are all machines which don't have extra thick drums in essence air roasters?

Would you say the Nesco is something different that the other air roasters?


Postby Mbb » May 13, 2018, 7:23 am

Most of the small home roasters have serious capacity issues or control issues.

It's not that they can't make good roast, but they don't make enough most of the time. Or don't make it repeatably. Roasting coffee every day and then having to rest it gets old. If you're already using a popcorn popper than you probably already understand how small the limit is.

Because of this you'll generally find that the behmor is the only affordable home roaster that that's really a consideration for many, doing up to one pound , under $400 But it has a lack of control.

After that the hot top give you some control but it still has serious lack of capacity. At 1200$

That's why people will move up to the Qwest and the huki,etc. When they find that aggravating or limiting, then they move up again to prosumer or commercial roasters.

There's a lot of people out there that wish there was a $400 roaster that was worth a darn. There really isn't. That's why people build homemade roosters like the turbo oven Style. Because it's simply not worth spending the money for home roasters that dissapoint.

The average consumer need the one button device to roast coffee. They do not have the knowledge it takes to roast coffee well themselves . There's also hazards about setting The Roaster on fire if it goes too long and gets too hot that produces very annoying requirements in sone to keep pushing a button to keep the roast going. Manufacturers do not want a home consumer to walk away from a roaster and then have it burn their house down. (Which is exactly what home consumers want to do is push a button and go away and come back)

Many would rather save a couple hundred dollars and put it towards the next step one day. Or possibly skip a step or two ahead in the progression. Once you get in it you'll seek to actually improve your your roasts, to make that awesome coffee repeatably all the time. This will require more control than you're able to get with any home roaster under $1500, at least if you want to be able to roast 8 oz instead of 2.

It's very important to quantify how much you want to roast at one time.


Postby amh0001 » May 13, 2018, 4:15 pm

I have owned

Freshroast 500
Quest m3
Upcoming North.

I have tasted coffee from behmors.

In your price range, and for what you want. Go for the freshroast. It honestly does make good coffee in your price range. It will save you money till you are ready to go up to a larger machine like a Quest, Bullet, or bigger.

It looks like you enjoy espresso. I like to take sweet marias new espresso blend to the very first snaps of second crack in my freshroast. made for some really good espresso.



Postby BarryR » May 13, 2018, 8:01 pm

I know almost nothing about it but I think I've read good things. I wonder if you should consider the 250 gm Kaldi. It's only a little bit above your $350 budget.


Postby walt_in_hawaii » May 14, 2018, 8:27 pm

OP, don't let 'em scare you off... the pleasure you derive from coffee, ultimately, is a very personal thing. Sure, there are numerous things you need to learn... but that's the fun part. And beans to try.. that's also the fun part. Its all for fun. so just go and make the mistakes, as long as they are little ones and not committing terminal amounts of personal resources and you learn from them, then fine. that's life and this is your journey. There will invariably be strong opinions about what you should or shouldn't do or buy and they may tend to focus on the serious grease monkey part of it, which is fine for the wannabe technogeeks and wannabe grease monkeys. But if you just wanna have fun and a good tasting cuppa joe, then wade on in. The water's just fine.

I did just fine with a modified air popper for a long time, I think it would do a max of something like 180 grams at a shot. When I started, it was just a watch and my ear to listen for first cracks and my nose to smell. I think the popper cost like $5 at Goodwill. You'll learn from there just fine. Add a good thermometer/thermocouple for a couple bucks and you can hook up your computer and teach yourself to make a pretty roast profile using Artisan, and its free. What eventually moved me off the air popper was the 180g limit, I would have to do a half dozen back to back roasts each time to keep me in a week or two's worth of coffee. I've moved up to a Kaldi Wide, I think it was near $625 ish, and its good, but its limit is 300g and I'm already wanting something a little bigger, perhaps around 600g or 800g or a tad bigger so that back to back roasts are no longer necessary. I don't want it too big, though, because the coffee drinkers in our household like variety, so there are always 3 or 4 different beans to mix and try. Also for espresso the straight shots don't seem to pour as nicely as a mix with brazils or south americans in it. I will agree with the post about cost, though; your selections are pretty limited and you won't find gear that will do what you want at such a low price point unless you build it yourself. You might score a small used drum with about a 500g capacity but those normally go for near $1k. I have a friend with the behmoor and he can go pretty dark, but he has all but given up roasting entirely because of the lack of control, he can't finesse it enough to get a good tasting roast consistently. If you don't mind hand turning, buy the manual Kaldi for like $225 and 300g capacity. Or you can rig an electri drill to turn it or or or... possibilities are endless. Its all you.

Good luck


Postby happycat » May 14, 2018, 9:21 pm

I used a modified popper for a couple years I think. Easy to do. I used a laptop dc brick to run the fan and a router sped controller to control the power. Small batches were not ideal but I had some great roasts... just not all that consistently roasted through. I never got around to adding thermocouples to it but was close...

I studied upgrade options for a long time. In the end, I just could not see the point of spending a lot of $ on something limited in size or power like a freshroast or a gene or a behmor... Just not enough more bang for the buck. so I got a Quest directly imported from the manufacturer with a direct $ transfer and saved quite a bit. I would say it paid for itself in a couple of years if you compare my costs to what a bag of roasted coffee would cost, pound for pound. I was much happier overall with roast quality and batch size.

My wife thought I was crazy then, but definitely not these days (at least not for the Same reasons)

I modified it with spraying the drum black so I can do batches of 300g.
LMWDP #603


Postby Jasper_8137 » May 16, 2018, 1:11 pm

I have used popcorn poppers, SCTO, iroast, Behmor 1600 plus and am now roasting on a huky. The popcorn poppers and SCTO were good learning tools and despite lack of control (I didn't drill and install thermocouples) roasted a decent cup. My iroast was a step up in that you could program heat, but really an expensive air popper. The behmor was a good unit. I often roasted a pound at a time and had no problems getting a dark roast. At that time I was taking my roast into second crack for about 25 seconds. The behmor can do an ok job, but there is a lack of control - you can program it or use preprogrammed settings. If you want dark roasts - you can certainly get it there (I since found that I much prefer lighter roasts and now drop prior to second crack).
For the budget you have listed, I would go with the behmor. If you find you like roasting, you could sell it and move up to something like a huky or quest (or something comparable that allows more control).


Postby Charlene » May 16, 2018, 4:56 pm

gouzosara wrote:Why can't the Behmor do dark? Can't you just roast a further couple of minutes?

The Behmor can and does do dark roasts... so dark the smoke even pours out around the door seals.

I know this because I have done it with my Behmor.

Behmor corporate is concerned about roaster fires (read: lawsuits) and recommends against using it for dark roasting. Possible fire is also the reason they incorporate a shut down timer near first crack to shut down the roaster if you do not turn off that 30 second timer before it expires. That 30 second shutdown timer doesn't give you an audible alarm, just a flashing visual display. They want you glued to that roaster while it is roasting.