Home roasting, why?

Discuss roast levels and profiles for espresso, equipment for roasting coffee.
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#1: Post by Altair »

A few days ago someone here suggested I roast at home instead of looking for consistent roasters, while I do appreciate the advice and passion, my immediate thought is that it adds a level of complexity unnecessarily, as I am unlikely to reach the level of competence an experienced roaster would.

I was curious though, and have been reading up and checking the threads here and elsewhere. Seems there is a world within a world when it comes to roasting. My question to the members of this forum, why do you do it? Is it to obtain a higher quality end product? For the fun of it? Cost? Something else?

Interested in hearing the rational behind each person's investment in time and mine in home roasting.

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#2: Post by rmongiovi »

For me, the primary driver was freshness. Secondary is that it's an interesting process and something you can fiddle with as a hobby. And thirdly I like being responsible for my own supply of decent coffee.

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#3: Post by Capuchin Monk »

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#4: Post by marcism »

As someone who has been roasting for at least 10 years, on various contraptions, both self made and not; I have to say there's many moments where I think I enjoy roasting more than coffee itself.

It is incredibly therapeutic and engaging, in the sense that you must take the time to nurture a product that has passed through so many hands and help it on its last legs of the journey. You become a producing part of the coffee chain and for me, I really feel a closeness to everyone who came before me to help get that seed into my hands. If I mess it up now, I'm doing a massive disservice to them and their work. With that mindset, you must take all distractions and put them aside, one hundred percent engage with the process and be present in those seven to 12 minutes of transformation.

I'm a natural tinkerer at heart and with home roasting I'm right at home. I've built so many things, learned so many skills, all for the furtherance of the craft. I dare say the work I do now with programming had a lot to do with getting arduinos to work a few years back.

What about if you don't know something? A roast isn't working, an origin is just giving you headaches? Then go talk to a fellow roaster and you will immediately be among family. Roasters are a special breed, with what seems like endless patience and care, but also ingenuity that is not coveted. It's a very giving community (look at this board for instance!).

And the other part that really ties it together for me is sharing coffee with my friends. Getting their feedback, trying to roast to their requests, just being able to share this incredible product that I myself really had a concrete hand in creating; that feels so satisfying and rewarding. Sharing coffee really is one of the best gifts we can give.

On that note, I'm off to plug my new RTDs into my Quest and bash out some decaf for my mate who needs a decent decaf in her life. Cheers!
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#5: Post by BodieZoffa »

Will gladly add that once you get in the zone doing it the possibilities are endless. Can be as simple/complex as you want. People seem to get caught up in the burr craze to bring out certain notes, that sort of thing. Sure, burrs make some difference in taste/texture, but being able to source certain greens, dialing things in with roast development can give FAR more control of the end result compared to the equipment being used ever will. No doubt home roasting isn't for everyone, but it can be done safely/effectively/affordably without question. Personally I haven't bought roasted coffee going on years and average roasting around 10 lbs monthly for espresso consumption. My only regret is not doing it sooner than I did.

**For many years I did source roasted coffee from the well respected 'artisan' commercial roasters in the U.S. Of course some offerings were fantastic, most just good and some that weren't worth being given as free. After tens of thousands of extractions I can honestly say what I roast for my taste is easily on par consistently with the very best I sourced from any commercial roasters in the past.

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#6: Post by mathof »

I roast coffees that I cannot from commercial roasters whenever I want. For example, I like to always have some Yemen Mocha Matari on hand, roasted fairly dark (agtron 43). I can guarantee my supply by buying a few kilograms of green beans from a particular supplier I favour when they are in stock.

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#7: Post by boren »

It's fun, and it's the most cost effective way to get coffee that's both fresh and roasted to the exact level that you like.

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#8: Post by Cranked »

I agree with all the comments. It is a very engaging and satisfying process. You have endless possibilities of greens, blends and roast levels. It doesn't require a huge investment in equipment to get started, you can roast a batch in less than 20 minutes, and can drink it the next day.

I think it takes a lot of experience to roast excellent coffee consistently, but it is very easy to roast very good coffee. I am ok, but not great at it. I can probably buy coffee better than what I roast, but I have far greater variety and guaranteed freshness. I burned my first batch, but the second was eye opening. I still buy roasted coffee. Mostly super premium SO, to compare with my roasts.

I'll also add that it depends on your goals...if you just want a traditional espresso without fuss, maybe roasting is not the best choice. If you like to experiment, it is a fantastic hobby.

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#9: Post by LBIespresso »

You may love it or you may find it a chore. It is a hobby not unlike cooking or baking since you get to consume the end result.

I have found that after watching hours of YouTube and taking a couple of classes combined with a conscious effort to "get good" at roasting, it wasn't long before the quality of the green made a bigger difference than the quality of the roaster operator. I have been roasting for around 5 years and for the first time I have taken a break and have been buying some roasted coffee from the more expensive and well known roasters (continuing to roast for friends and family). While it has been fun to try coffee roasted by the "best" out there I am looking forward to re-stocking my chest freezer and getting back to roasting for myself.

TLDR: It is a hobby that you will be obsessed with or hate or somewhere in between. I suggest taking a roasting class before you buy anything and see if it interests you.
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#10: Post by another_jim »

Some people save money. They use larger roasters (1 pound and up), buy green coffee in 20 pound plus lots, and supply their neighborhoods.

Some people enjoy the process in itself. They have home built or heavily modified roasters. Heatguns and dogbowls forever!

Some people like to have a half dozen different coffees on hand, and try different roasts of the same coffee, or order a coffee from a roaster and compare it to the same one they roasted themselves. This group uses sample roasters, sized between 1/2 and 1 pound.

A new group wants coffees even better than the best roasters. They use highly automated small sample roasters like the Ikawa, very high end coffees, and roast profiles obtained directly from the importers or growers.

Finally, there's the usual crowd of "noticed it on YouTube," trying it out, and not really sure if it's their thing or not.
Jim Schulman