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    Coffee roasting machines use heat to transform pure green coffee beans into the brown ones we know and love, which we use in our coffee makers and grinders.

    The main aim of roasting your coffee beans is to add to the flavour and taste of the end product. Most are done on a large scale before it even hits the supermarket shelves and coffee shops, but roasting on a smaller scale has become popular over the years.

    Independent and speciality coffee shops may roast on a small scale to experiment with flavours, especially if they serve single-origin blends. Roasting at home also has these benefits, with people able to experiment more with flavour profiles and create an even fresher taste than if they were only to use a bean grinder.

    If you are setting up a coffee shop, or merely want to roast coffee at home as a hobby, you will need a device to do some of the work. These are the best coffee bean roaster machines that we have reviewed:

    Our Top Picks

    The Best Home Coffee Roasters

    Coffee Bean Roaster Buying Guide

    How a coffee bean roasting machine works

    Coffee beans originally start out as green and remain fresh for the time they are this colour, so this is how the majority are transported. They have next to no taste but adding heat changes this.

    Roasting coffee beans alters the chemical and physical characteristics each bean, in turn changing the taste and colour which results in the distinctive flavour. To be more technical, polysaccharide sugars rise to the surface of the bean and caramelise, and they get bigger and lose a lot of their water.

    When the time comes to roast them, they are placed in a machine over a heat source. This can be gas, electric or open fire. The machine’s drum rotates wither by hand or automatically, to give each bean the same attention.

    A machine reaches the necessary temperatures needed to roast the beans. Smaller manual devices are shaped and designed to keep the temperatures consistent, as well as providing a heat proof surface for the heating.

    Price

    Small ceramic and pottery roasters which sit on top of your home hob or above a gas flame can be anywhere between £30 and over £50. Most are the same basic design, but those at the higher end of the scale may have a higher capacity or added safety features such as textured internal surfaces to retain heat or protected handles.

    Manual spinning barrel machines can be around double this price. They usually follow a more traditional design and allow for better heat transfer and control.

    Electric machines at the higher end of the scale can easily be a few hundred pounds. The settings, control and capacities are usually appropriate for small commercial premises, but they can also be used at home if you are serious about your coffee drinking.

    Which is the best one for me?

    Starting out on the coffee roasting journey? A small ceramic or mesh roaster which you place over a heat source will probably suffice. You will have plenty of control over the developing flavours, but the steps are also easy, and it is a small-scale operation.

    If you happen to be quite experienced, you may wish to invest in a larger automated machine which will give you the results you are after with little input, as long as you choose the correct settings. Or, you may want a barrel model which allows you to turn the hopper at your preferred rate and is often a slightly larger capacity so you can prepare coffee ahead of time.

    FAQs

    What beans do I use in a coffee roaster?

    You must use the pure green beans which have not yet been roasted. They will be available in most coffee shops and some supermarkets or independent shops, as well as online.

    There are pure, basic coffee beans available, as well as blends which are flavoured. You may see fruity blends, chocolate flavours or even floral. Where and how a bean is grown has a big impact on the flavouring, but the next stage is up to you.

    Blending the beans at home gives you control over the strength of the flavour, which is great if you have very particular tastes. It also keeps the beans fresher for longer.

    How do I know if the coffee beans are ready?

    A lot of modern coffee bean roasters have a glass or see-through area so you can see them turning brown. The browner they go, the stronger the flavour. If yours doesn’t have one, such as if it is a small ceramic model, practice may make perfect.

    You can also listen to your coffee beans. It may sound strange, but they will make different noises the further along they go in the process, just like popcorn. This is basically them dehydrating. Every bean and device will be different, but generally, if you listen out for the ‘first crack’, which comes after a series of little crackles, they will be lightly done.

    A few moments longer once the crackling has disappeared results in a medium browning. The ‘second crack’ will come once the beans start to turn into a dark roast. There are other signals too, such as the smoke produced and the smells.

    Your roaster may include a guide or instructions, or you may prefer to experiment with all the settings and temperatures depending on the bean you have.

    Can I use a popcorn maker?

    It is something you may have heard before – coffee beans can be roasted in a popcorn maker. While it is true, and many people have had a lot of success with this method, you will only get the full impact of taste with a dedicated coffee bean roaster.

    Can I use the roaster for anything else?

    People commonly also use their roaster for roasting peanuts, seeds and even cocoa beans as well as coffee. Make sure you follow guidelines to see if this is appropriate and won’t cause damage to the device.

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