Small Batch Coffee Roasting Machine

My first experience of home coffee roasters came a few years back when a firm called Bonaverde sent me their “Berlin” machine to review, which was a coffee roasting machine and brewer in one.

The idea of a home coffee bean roaster was quite amazing to me at the time, but the idea of a machine that also went on to brew using the freshly roasted coffee did seem quite incredible.

I wasn’t sure what happened with that machine, they went really quiet after sending it to me to review. I’ve since learned that they had one challenge after another, including an important part being recalled, and unfortunately, the machine never quite got off the ground, which is a real shame.Best Home Coffee Roasters - The First Machine I Tried. Still, I liked the idea of being able to roast my own beans at home, so I did a bit of research and discovered that there are lots of options when it comes to home coffee roasters.

Since then, I’ve learned a heck of a lot about coffee and coffee machines in general, including home coffee roasters, so I decided to compile this list of the best home coffee roasters with lots of relevant info, for anyone considering roasting their own coffee beans from home.

By the way, just in case you didn’t get the pun in the title, the two main stages of coffee roasting are known as “first crack”, and “second crack”.

Raw beans are known as green beans, which is weird, seeing as they’re not beans, and they’re not green…

Best home coffee roasters - photo of green coffee beans.

OK, maybe they have a slight green tinge? To me, they look more like yellowish cream, but that doesn’t have the same ring to it I suppose.

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Small Batch Coffee Roaster Supplies

Home coffee roasting supplies.

Click Here & Use Discount Code COFFEEWORKS for 10% Off!

The one thing you’re definitely going to need if you’re roasting your own coffee beans, is a supply of green coffee beans, obviously ;-).

Small Batch Roaster Supplies have a huge selection of green beans to choose from, in a range of weights – from 150g sample packs right up to 60 Kilo sacks, and they also offer starter packs which come with a range of different sample packs, a flavour wheel, and a coffee tasting booklet.

Re the “not beans” thing, all beans are seeds, but not all seeds are beans, and coffee beans aren’t technically beans, they’re seeds of the coffee cherry, but they’re referred to as beans simply because they look like beans.

You probably already knew that, if you didn’t then you’re now armed with a completely useless fact with which to annoy your friends and family.

So “first crack” is the first time during the roast that the beans start to make an audible crack, I know, I’m pointing out the obvious ;-).

This first crack is really important, it’s what coffee roasters are listening to, and with a light roast – there won’t actually be a second crack, as the roast will stop sometime after the first and before the second.

Anyway, there’s a very small introduction to coffee roasting, I’ve written more about this in the FAQ section at the end of this post.

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The Best Home Coffee Roasters 2023

I’ve narrowed this down to the home coffee roasters I think are worth consideration, and given that most (especially most of the very cheap options) probably aren’t worth bothering with, there are only a handful of options below.

I’m starting off with just a couple of very inexpensive options, which are good for anyone who’s looking for a home roaster just for a bit of fun, or for a very low investment dipping toes in the water type foray into coffee roasting.

After these two low cost options, I’m getting into what I believe to be the best home coffee roasters overall, in price order. I’ll update this post as this changes, so as other home coffee roasters come along that I think belong here, I’ll include them – so if you think I’m missing any home roasters, please drop me an email.

Cracking Beans -The home roaster set

Cracking Beans- Home Roaster Set

Check Price – Cracking Beans

The Roaster

Dimensions: 25cm wide by 9.5cm tall Capacity: 250g Good: Great cheap way to try roasting your own coffee beans Bad: All manual, some effort involved, but to be expected for the cost

My Observations

I’ve seen a few (seemingly lesser quality) versions of this kind of manual coffee roaster, but this one is nicely built for the money, and is being distributed by a UK-based firm with UK stock. They sent me one of these to review (blog and youtube reviews coming soon), and I think it’s a great little thing for the relatively low cost.

If you want to roast up to 250g of your own coffee beans, in your own kitchen – and you want to do it without spending much money, then this isn’t a bad place to start.

You just launch the green beans in, put it on your stove (it’ll work on all hobs including induction), and turn the handle to keep the beans moving. There’s no automation, there’s no sophistication, and it’s all manual, but you can roast 250g of beans in about 10-12 minutes so it’s quite practical, and there’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to get acceptable results, although obviously, you have no feedback on temperature, etc., so you’re not going to get the same kind of results as if you spent several hundred quid or more on a more sophisticated home roaster.

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Ceramic Handy Coffee Bean Roaster

Check Price – Amazon

Dimensions: 24.3cm long x 13.2mm diameter. 340g Capacity: 30-70g Good: Cheap as chips, small and portable, good for camping trips Bad: Labourious, small capacity

My Observations

There are a few versions of this hand roaster available, this one is by far the best-selling version, but the others I’ve seen in the past do look very similar.

They’re quirky looking little things that look more like miniature Victorian bed warmer than coffee roasters, but coffee roasters they are, and they’re influenced by the traditional Ethiopian method of roasting coffee over a flame.

While traditional Ethiopian coffee roasting is done in a large open pan, these hand roasters are intended for smaller quantities, and from my experience, they’re capable of not bad results, in small quantities.

For me, these are a great hand roaster to take camping, the experience & aromas of roasting coffee with one of these over a camping stove before grinding the beans and brewing the coffee on a cold (but hopefully dry) morning, I think will level up any camping trip!

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But what you need to keep in mind, is that they’re for small roasts, ideally around 50g, and you really need to take your time with them, ideally roasting over medium heat for somewhere in the region of 10-15 minutes or possibly longer depending on the roast profile you want.

You also need to use quite a bit of physical effort, it’s not just a case of moving the roaster from side to side.

The waffle shaped structure in the bottom of these roasters (which is supposed to be a help, but I suspect is a hindrance) stops the beans from distributing all that much from only side to side movement.

To get an even roast, I think you’ll find that you need to do a bit of tossing, for want of a better verb… Flicking or tossing actions with the wrist will do a better job of evenly roasting beans in one of these little hand held roasters.

Manually roasting beans in a handheld roaster like this isn’t an exact science, and I wouldn’t expect perfect results.

Having said that, I do think it’s possible with a bit of trial and error, to be able to get OK results using a little roaster like this – and I think it’s a great bit of fun to burn through a bit of spare time and to make camping trips a bit more interesting.

See the FAQ at the bottom of this page, though, which includes DIY options.

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Gene Cafe Home Roaster

Check Price – Amazon

Dimensions: 49cm wide, 24.3cm tall, 22.9cm deep Capacity: 250g Good: Among the most popular home coffee roasters, so lots of advice to be found online Bad: Needs to use in a very well ventilated room or with ducting

The Gene Cafe is one of the more popular choices for home coffee roasters.

In fact, when I sent an email out to my “Brew Time” mailing list subscribers a while back to ask who has their own roaster and what they use – nearly everyone who replied to say they did their own roasting, replied that they had the Gene Cafe!

There were a couple of replies from people with other home roasters, but at a rough calculation I’d say about 85% of the responses were “I use a Gene Cafe”, and when I replied to all these people to ask what they thought, no one had a bad word to say about it – which was why I then went & bought one.

I have to be very honest and say that I’ve not used the Gene Cafe much at all, just because I’ve had so much else on since I bought it, but I will be spending time using it very soon.

From what I’ve experienced so far with this home roaster, and from what others have told me, it’s difficult to beat this roaster for the price.

Depending on where you buy it from, and whether you can find a deal, etc., you’ll probably end up spending five hundred quid or so, although they do come up on eBay occasionally for three or four hundred.

It comes with a chaff collector, which is a good thing – although you’ll get a bit of chaff coming out of the chamber with the beans too, so you might want to take the beans outside to cool them by pouring them from one container to another while letting the chaff blow away for birds to use as lovely coffee flavoured nest lining ;-).

There’s a short exhaust on the chaff collector, which you’ll want to connect to some ducting to take the fumes outside unless you’re roasting in a room such as a garage with the doors wide open for example.

If you’re looking for a really neat roaster that you can literally just plop down on your kitchen worktop, plugin, and roast coffee without any smoke, and therefore no need for extraction or ducting, then the IKAWA roaster below might be a better bet for you.

If you’re wondering about where to source your green, raw coffee beans from, by the way – then you may have missed what I mentioned earlier about Small Batch coffee roaster supplies. They do a brilliant range of unroasted coffee beans for home roasters and commercial coffee roasters, too. Make sure you use the code below for a discount every time you order.

Click Here & Use Discount Code COFFEEWORKS for 10% Off!

Sandbox Smart R1+C1

Check Price – Amazon

Dimensions: 23cm wide x 25.5 deep 26cm tall Capacity: 150g (officially 100g) Good: Very simple to use with the smartphone app Bad: Small capacity, extractor required

My Observations

At the time of writing, I think this little home coffee roaster is probably the best option (or at least the best-priced option) for beginner home roasters who want as much beginner friendliness as possible.

A quick word on the “bad” bits above.

The small capacity bit, well that’s comparative – if you compare it to the Gene cafe, it’s a small capacity, but it’s a different kind of roaster aimed at a different kind of user.

If you’re wanting to roast larger batches than 100-150g, then you’ll probably be looking at the Gene cafe above or the Cormorant CR600 that I’ll get to in a min.

Re the extraction thing, this will kick off a bit of smoke, especially at first crack, but unlike the Gene cafe, there’s no hose connection, which probably means you’re going to have to put it close to a window or an extractor fan – unless you’re using it in a garage for example with the doors open.

The Sandbox smart app is genius. You simply select the profile you want, from your smartphone, set it going, again from your smartphone, and then press the button on the phone to let the app know when the first crack has happened, and again for the second crack, for darker roasts.

Creating new profiles possibly isn’t a task for the beginner home coffee roaster, and I nearly put this down in the “bad” highlights above, until I discovered how easy it is to create and share profiles.

This means that if you’re a complete beginner roaster (like me), you can download roast profiles from people who know their stuff. Also, as you start to learn what’s what with this roaster, I do think creating profiles is probably something that will start to make a bit more sense.

Regarding the capacity, the manufacturer lists this as 100g, but Dave Corbey states in his video, below, that he finds 150g is the max capacity, and I’d listen to Dave more than I’d listen to any manufacturer.

You may know Dave Corby as DaveC from the UK coffee forums, or now from the new coffee time forums, and if you do you’ll probably know there aren’t many people around who know as much as this guy does about coffee machines.

If you want a much more in-depth review of the sandbox grinder see: Dave Corbey’s Sandbox coffee roaster review.

IKAWA Smart Home Coffee Roaster

Check Price – IKAWA Home

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Dimensions: 14cm wide, 24cm deep, 32cm tall Capacity: 100g Good: Kitchen friendly (smoke free), user friendly. Bad: Small capacity, pricey.

My Observations

This is the kitchen-friendly home roaster version of the Ikawa Pro, which is a small sample roaster used by professional coffee roasters.

The pro version of this roaster has received some very high praise from people who really know what they’re talking about, such as this review by Tim Wendelboe, also 4 times Canadian Barista champion Ben Put, & Howard Gill head roaster at Grind.

The home version looks amazing, from a user-friendliness perspective.

This isn’t a coffee roaster you have to either use only in the garage with the door open or hooked up to a not particularly pretty-looking ducting pipe.

This is a very pretty looking little machine that can sit in any modern kitchen and roast coffee for you potentially without your significant other even realizing what you’re up to ;-).

Chaff is collected very neatly into a little jar, and the roasted coffee beans are also neatly collected in the glass jar after being cooled by the machine. This is a really clever home roaster for anyone who wants to roast coffee at home in a nice clean kitchen, not in a shed or garage.

If you look around and find that the capacity is 60g, by the way, that was the case until recently, but they recently (at the time of writing) launched their latest home roaster, which has a 100g capacity.

Cormorant CR600

Check Price – Cormorant Roasters UK

Dimensions: 30cm wide x 53 cm deep by 44.7cm tall Capacity: 600g Good: Large capacity, great for the home roasting enthusiast Bad: Requires some roasting skill, not something you can just plug in and press a button

My Observations

I want to start off by addressing and clarifying the “bad” comment above. This really isn’t a negative comment against the CR600 roaster, it’s just a case of who it’s intended for, so this is only a negative if you’re not the person that this roaster is designed for.

For the person who wants a small, user-friendly roaster connected to a smartphone app, which they can operate in their kitchen without any learning, the home roasters above such as the Sandbox & the Ikawa are made specifically for you.

If you’re more of a coffee roasting enthusiast, however, then I think the Cormorant CR600 is potentially a great option, especially not for the price. It’ll set you back about eighteen hundred quid including delivery, in most parts of the UK, which is a very small price for a roaster of this type.

The Cormorant CR600 is a hand-built roaster made to order here in the UK (Polperro, Cornwall), and it’s a gorgeous-looking thing, in my humble opinion, made of African mahogany & stainless steel, and available in a range of colours.

It’s a gas-powered drum roaster, with some features you’d expect on a commercial roaster costing several thousand pounds, including:

  • Auto burner ignition
  • Roasting window
  • Bean trier
  • Roaster LED light
  • Airflow fans gauge
  • Instant bean cooling
  • BT & ET probes (bean temperature & environmental temperature)
  • Compatible with Artisan coffee roasting software.
  • Large chaff removal chamber
  • Adjustable legs
  • Thermocouple gas safety
  • 10-15 minute roasting time (average roasting time 12 mins for 600g batches)

This isn’t a roaster you can order now and have delivered tomorrow, Johan (the guy who makes them) will let you know if you contact them, how long the waiting list is at the time – and you’ll be involved in the process with the ability to personalise certain parts of the build, including the colour of course, but I believe the buyer has more choice than this.

And there we go, right now, these are what I believe to be the best home coffee roasters in the UK, for 2023. As I mentioned above, if you think there’s a roaster I’ve missed, please let me know.

Small Batch Coffee Roaster Supplies

Home coffee roasting supplies.

Click Here & Use Discount Code COFFEEWORKS for 10% Off!

I know I’ve mentioned this discount a couple of times now, but this is quite a long post, so I want to make sure this isn’t missed.

One absolute requirement for roasting coffee, is a supply of unroasted coffee beans, of course. The guys at Small Batch Roaster Supplies in Shaftesbury, specialise in supplying home roasters and commercial coffee roasters, with their green coffee beans, and they’ve agreed to offer my fellow coffee botherers a nice – ongoing discount!

By ongoing, I mean you’ll get the discount each time you order (just remember to use the discount code, COFFEEWORKS) each time you order.

Kev’s Home Coffee Roasters FAQ

Why roast your own coffee beans?

It’s a good question. Personally, I’d say don’t bother – buy my coffee beans instead… Hehe. Joking apart, there are a couple of main reasons.

I think the main reason you’d probably want to roast your own, is to develop a new hobby that you could get a great deal from, including your own freshly roasted coffee beans. A hobby like this is very rewarding for more than one reason, and I can definitely see the appeal.

I’ve not gone down the home roasting hobby myself through choice, because I’m just too busy to take on a new hobby. My main hobby – messing about with coffee & blogging about it, became my full time gig, and now keeps me incredibly busy, I really don’t need another hobby, so I have to fight the urge to get into home roasting because I know it’ll take up time I don’t have.

I do sell coffee beans, via my website The Coffeeworks – but I don’t roast the beans myself, I delegate to experts.

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Another obvious reason to roast your own would be to save money on buying roasted coffee beans.

On the face of it, I’d say you probably won’t save all that much on buying green beans vs buying roasted coffee beans from a roaster, once you account for the purchase of the roaster, and electricity or gas.

However, once you add the money that you can save on delivery, I think it’s probably a fairly sizeable saving over time.

To explain what I mean, most people will only order what roasted coffee they’re going to use within a week or two, and with that, comes delivery charges.

Green coffee beans last a lot longer than roasted coffee beans, so what this means is that you can buy green coffee beans in bulk, much less regularly than if you were buying roasted coffee beans, and I’d imagine there’d be a fair saving there over time, on delivery.

So once this is added to the saving on the cost of green coffee beans vs the cost of roasted coffee beans, it’s probably a saving worth having.

But then again, it depends on how much you value your time. If you’re spending time roasting coffee instead of doing something that would bring a bigger return than the money saved, then it’s possibly not such a good move.

As I said earlier, I think the main reason to roast your own coffee beans is the hobby aspect, as there are a lot of benefits to be had by finding a hobby you really enjoy, especially one that results in lovely freshly roasted coffee beans!

Can popcorn makers be used for home coffee roasting?

Many people do or have used popcorn makers for roasting coffee, and they do work to a certain degree anyway.

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They’re not perfect, you’ll only be able to roast very small batches, and they don’t provide much control or repeatability, but it’s a very cheap way to dip your toes in & get started roasting coffee at home.

If you’re looking for a bit of fun, something to churn through a few hours of downtime on a tight budget, but you don’t fancy the labour intensive hand roasting option, then popcorn popper coffee roasting may be for you.

People have been roasting with these things quite successfully for years, if you do a bit of research you’ll find forum threads from the early 00s and beyond from people who use these machines for hobby coffee roasting.

Don’t just buy any popcorn maker though, you need a specific one. You need one with vents on the side, and with a solid bottom.

You need one that doesn’t have a thermostat that turns the flipping thing off every 30 seconds while you’re trying to roast, and you need one which isn’t going to suck in the chaff and set on fire!

The only popcorn poppers I was aware of that meet these criteria was the Severin 117803 and the Nostalgia APH200 which is the same machine that Sweet Marias used to supply in the USA, but I can’t find anyone supplying them in the UK at the moment, unfortunately.

As far as I’m aware, the only real option in the UK at the time of writing if you want to use a popcorn popper for roasting, is to look for a used Prima PMC001. You can usually pick them up on eBay for a tenner or so, many of them have hardly ever been used.

I think the Prima PMC001 is the same machine as the West Bend Poppery II, which appears to be regarded as the holy grail of popcorn maker roasters in the States. I may be wrong so don’t quote me ;-).

There’s also the PMC002, which is a slightly later version of the machine, ever so slightly bigger. From what I can tell, the PMC001 is marginally better, which is good as there appears to be more of these available.

By the way, I don’t mean the Prima duck popcorn machine ;-), you’ll see loads of them on eBay but they don’t have the power needed for roasting coffee beans.

Not this one ;-).

Can you roast coffee in a pan?

Yeah! This is what I’d recommend actually if you’re thinking of trying your hand at coffee roasting on a budget. Just grab yourself a non-stick pan, a wooden spoon & a stainless steel colander & a heat source.

Re the heat source, a camping stove is a good idea as you’d be able to use this outside, you could in theory do this on the kitchen stove, but it can get a bit messy, with chaff all over the kitchen, I’d probably prefer to do this outside. You could probably do this on the barbeque if you have a gas-powered one.

Are handmade drum roasters an option?

In theory, yes, as long as you don’t mind a bit of DIY. This is quite a simple idea at least in theory. You get a metal drum (a rotisserie basket for example) attach a motor to it or just use an electric drill, and put this over a heat source (the drum, not the drill, that would be daft).

As with most of the low-cost methods, there’s not much in the way of sophistication here, there’s no temp control, no recording of the roast profile and so on, it’s a bit of a rough around the edges method.

For the heat source, you can use a gas burner, or a gas bbq for example, so this is something that you can do outside.

Check out this video on using a gas bbq and a rotisserie basket:

This video shows how to convert an old metal drum into a copper roasting drum:

Why invest in a more expensive roaster if you can roast in a pan or a popcorn maker?

Taste. While roasting coffee beans in a pan may be the traditional way to do it in countries of origin, including (not limited to) Ethiopia, if you taste coffee roasted this way, you may discover that it’s not quite what you’re used to if you usually drink speciality coffee.

It’s no accident that when coffee is roasted in this traditional way, it’s usually mixed with other things, like sugar.

The simple reason for this is that you don’t have control over the roast, and in particular, you don’t have control over the development stage after the first crack, and you need control over this stage in order to have any control over the flavour profile of the beans you’re roasting.

What is this “First Crack” you’ve mentioned?

When roasting coffee beans, they go through a series of endothermic (heat absorbing) and exothermic (heat releasing) stages.

The first stage is the endothermic phase, where the beans are heating up. The second stage is the exothermic reaction stage, which is known as first crack, which is where the beans are forced to crack, or pop open. This sounds a bit like popcorn popping.

First crack is really important, in terms of how long it takes to get there and what you do after this happens. Regardless of what route you take for roasting coffee beans at home, first crack is something you’ll be paying a lot of attention to.

What is second crack?

This is the third time the coffee cracks. Hehe, couldn’t resist, sorry ;-).

Obviously, I’m being daft, and second crack is the second (and last) time the coffee beans crack, if you take them that far. Light to medium roasts usually end somewhere in between first crack ending and second crack starting, and darker roasts are roasts that are taken somewhere beyond second crack.

Speciality coffee – why make the change?

What is the development phase?

This is where most of the magic happens, in terms of flavour development. It begins at first crack, which is why first crack is such an important waypoint, and it’s a crucial phase, just a slight change in temperature or airflow can make or break the roast at this stage.

Is cooling important?

Yes, very. If you don’t cool your roasted coffee beans quickly enough, they can begin to bake, which will do quite a bit of damage to the cup quality, so you definitely don’t want that.

Is coffee roasting simple?

Heck no! It’s actually really complex, there’s so much to it. This doesn’t mean that a beginner can’t do it, though. It means either that you need to learn about it, or you need to invest in a roaster that you can use without the learning.

Can you roast your own decaf?

Absolutely. In fact, I think decaf is one really good reason to have the ability to roast your own beans. If you don’t drink a lot of decaf, and you just want to buy a bag and keep it in the cupboard, that’s fine – but of course roasted beans go stale much faster than green, unroasted beans do.

So if you have your own roaster, when you want a decaf, or if someone comes round for a brew who’s avoiding caffeine for whatever reason, you can really impress them by not only having decaf in but by freshly roasting it for them, some real brownie points there!

Also see:

Best Decaf Coffee Beans & Kev’s Decaf FAQ

Watch my youtube video:

For more in depth info on coffee roasting see the Hasbean roasting guide, and if you wanted to get into roasting seriously, have a look at the coffee roasting course by Winchester coffee school.